Closing the loop on coffee shop waste
Written by Scott Kennedy, Co-Founder of Revive Eco
“There are two words in ‘Circular Economy’, and one is no more important than the other.”
These simple words were spoken to us during the Ellen MacArthur CE100 event in Reykjavik in 2017, and they have remained at the forefront of our thinking ever since. We set up Revive in 2015 with the mission of garnering maximum value from used coffee grounds, and creating global impact through our work. This idea of being hugely impactful and using business as a force for good has always been our main driver, and as a result, we sort of stumbled our way into the circular economy, and have never really looked back.
Our journey over the last few years has been much like that of all start-ups: up and down, and round and round. We’ve gone from an idea of cycling around Glasgow to collect coffee grounds from cafes to turn them into fertiliser, to now developing an innovative process to extract the natural oils from coffee grounds, on an international scale. We’ve learned so much over the course of the last couple of years, and our willingness to learn as much as we can from day 1 has definitely stood us in good stead to overcome the many challenges that have arisen. Here a couple of things we’ve learned during our journey so far:
Scotland is an incredible place to start an impact business.
There is a start-up ecosystem in Scotland that we have not really seen anywhere else. From academic institutions, grant funders and support organisations, there is a wealth of support, knowledge and resources out there to assist in the early stages of the business journey. There is an increasing focus on impact businesses, which is fantastic, and we have been fortunate to have received support from many of these organisations, competitions and public bodies which has been incredible in helping us develop.
You don’t need the answer to everything, you just need to know the person who does.
We don’t come from a technical background, but now run a very technical business. We didn’t start out knowing exactly what to do with used coffee grounds to extract value, but we had a feeling it could be done, and didn’t let that lack of scientific knowledge stand in our way. Building a strong network has been key to our progress, and surrounding ourselves with people who can plug the gaps in our knowledge has been absolutely pivotal to our development. Identifying our knowledge gaps, and finding the right people to fill them has been of immense benefit to us. Scotland is a really wee country in the grand scheme of things, which really does make it easier to build valuable connections quickly.
Communicate your vision.
We had a clear mission when we set up Revive, and spent a lot of time translating that into a vision for the company. We’ve learned that the why of a business often trumps the what of a business. If we can communicate why we founded Revive, and why this drive to create impact remains at the core of everything we do, people can ‘buy in’ to what we are doing. Communicating our vision has been pivotal to us in terms of raising funding and gaining customers, which is otherwise very difficult to do in the early stages when there is less traction and credibility. From day 1, it is so crucial to create your vision, maintain your vision, and communicate your vision.
Scott Kennedy is the co-founder of Revive Eco. To find out more about the business: