I love these start ups that aren’t based on a new product for the user, but a new understanding of value for the entire system. All these taxi apps are one example. The user basically wants to go from A to B. Of course there are some bells and whistles that make Uber a more compelling choice such as no need for cash, knowing where the cab is, choosing a driver and the ever important surprise water freebie. But all of those are accessory and can easily be copied by existing taxi companies. What makes Uber special is mostly its business model and has less to do with the product itself.
When was the last time you had a relationship with your garbage company? Or even exchanged with the garbage man? Now what about the business of trash? Who profits from there being more trash to pick up? But how can a company profit from less trash? What about the value of better recycling? Can some company make money from helping you recycle more and send out trash less? YES!
The old model was Waste management who made money from collecting more trash. Then capturing more methane from their privately owned landfills. And as a bonus reducing operation costs by switching their fleet to methane powered vehicles. That’s optimization for higher share value but not for societal value.
Rubicon is looking to upend the traditional business model of trash collection. They plan to make money by maximising the value of recyclables and reducing the costs of hauling garbage. In the words of the wired article: “its entire business is structured around reducing the cost of garbage collection and finding new ways to recycle materials that would otherwise get dumped in a landfill”
Just like Uber, it doesn’t operate truck or own landfills. It’s a technological platform that gives smaller, local players access to a network of clients.
Not only is Rubicon a certified B corp, but they also have articulated their triple bottom line in an interesting way.
Notice how each dimension is actually at the junction of two dimensions.
1) Empowering people to focus on what they do best. Social sure, but also financial efficiency.
2) Making zero waste a reality for the planet. Environmental evidently, but also social consciousness with the expression “making it a reality”.
3) Creating profit through recycling solutions. Economic of course, but also environmental.
To conclude, this budding business model is the better way to go for society and the environment. The challenge is making it financially feasible. Then again, that is the challenge of all start-ups!