New York 2010

The kids in NYC

Kim &  I had a great all day meeting with some super smart folks. Meanwhile, Fynn & Harper enjoyed the best of the city on this warm (nearly summer's) day with Jared – our Manny(!). I used to be a Japanese teacher at high school in Sydney (perfect preparation for any diaper executive). Most teachers teach co-curricular things too. So I coached rugby and cricket but also did Theatresports (Improv comedy – also important in running a start up, especially with investors. "Look at the shiny bright light"…)  Jared was in those classes and his team actually won the State Titles – how very Glee of us…

Anyways, Jared is now in NYC doing the acting thing. So a week of actual paid work was very welcomed.


On Sunday, we ventured to Toys R US / Babies R Us. Did a quick check of the gDiapers set and then stumbled upon the new version of hackysacks – ones for the hands, called Myachi's…kids are obsessed.  

Harper preparing for his dream job – Veterinarian / International Spy (seriously).

Fynn bargained his way down to $5 for these sunnies from a street vendor and then checked out the Zoo.

The boys had their "Big" moment at FAO Schwartz. "Dad, who the heck is Tom Hanks?"…oy vey.

Fynn "chillaxed" (his word not mine) out in Central Park…


He really is obsessed by these hacky sacky things…

Harper FINALLY has a shower…you can lead a horse to water…


Getting to scale: the Entrepreneurs curse

As Kim and I spend the week noodling on our 3 year strategic plan (more golf, less work??) this just in from John Hamm, from my local Sydney paper. A great read for entrepreneurs. The short version is here:

One of my favourite articles on the topic was by the academic John
Hamm in the Harvard Business Review earlier this decade. His
classic piece, “Why entrepreneurs don’t scale” should be mandatory
reading for business owners. A friend recounted his own inability to
scale the other day, and said he ticked each of the four boxes that Hamm
says stop entrepreneurs scaling. They are:

Loyalty to comrades: the excessively loyal
founding entrepreneur is the growing organisation’s worst enemy because
they will not make the tough staffing decisions.

Task orientation: the entrepreneur is the
organisation’s weight-lifter – brilliant at executing short-term
projects, but lacking in long-term strategic ability.

Single-mindedness: the entrepreneur is too
insulated and does not communicate well enough with staff or accept
opinions different to their own.

Working in isolation: The brilliant, isolated
entrepreneur struggles to present his venture to the world. They don’t
enjoy leading the sales effort or being their enterprise’s public face.

I’ve got my own thoughts about why so many entrepreneurs don’t scale:

Scale tales: Business plans are full of material
about where a venture can grow, which is all exciting, though rarely
happens. Hardly any business plans I read have detailed information on
how scaling can be achieved. They are too light on execution.

Poor systems: Strong systems and structures
provide the foundation to scale ventures. They make it easier for
entrepreneurs to work on, rather than in, the business. Too many
entrepreneurs chase growth first and worry about systems later.

Lack of self-understanding: Some entrepreneurs
love repeating their business idea everywhere possible and stick close
to their core product. Others find running a large organisation, with
more staff and bureaucracy, stifling. It feels like a job. They can’t
make the transition from entrepreneur to chief executive, or don’t want
to. They should have sold their business to a large player as it took
off, and moved to their next start-up.

Capital: Some entrepreneurs wait too long to
access capital. Being well-capitalised at the start, even if it means
giving up more equity, can be advantageous for businesses that want to
scale. Sometimes you have to let go of equity to get a smaller piece of a
much bigger pie.

Relationships: If want to scale a venture rapidly
you need a business partner on the same page, an understanding life
partner, and a willingness for a different work/life balance.

Hawaii landfills

Hawaii drowning in its’ own waste


This story (in the New York Times this morning) is so frustrating to read. It is like a scene out of Wall-E where the humans have generated so much waste, they have to leave and find another planet to buggar up. It reeks (pardon the pun) of one part stupidity and one part arrogance.

Is it really smart to spend millions of taxpayer dollars exporting waste? Toronto ships all its' solid waste to Buffalo. Most east coast states ship their waste west, where there are more landfills. Just the concept of burying your waste and hoping is dumb. Yet we continue to do it while viable alternatives exist.

Other countries are emulating what nature does: making a resource out of waste by establishing commercial composting infrastructure. But that would involve changing peoples behavior: German households separate their waste (shock, horror). Their compost bin is twice the size of their (tiny) trash can. If you want to toss more trash you have to BUY more (expensive) trash cans so you are financially incentivized to reduce landfill-bound waste. Lo and behold, manufacturers start making products that can be composted. But after 5 years in the US, I have figured out that that is never going to work here. A behavior change violates the Constitution. It violates every man, woman and child's right to toss garbage wherever they want to dab nab it. And I can already see Waste Management's lobby rushing to the Hill in protest (How the Supreme Court allowed unlimited lobbying dollars into the system earlier this year beggars belief). In Hawaii,  the winning trash export bidder low balls their competition, fails to deliver and the island is now drowning in its' own waste and killing off its' only industry: tourism. Bravo.

And the reason this annoys me so much is because it is directly related to why Kim and I moved 10,000 miles to the US to start gDiapers 5 years ago. When it comes to waste, disposable diapers are the third biggest contributor to landfill yet only 5% of the population use them. 20 BILLION disposable diapers are put into holes in the ground across the US every year where they stay for 500 years. Each. It takes a cup of oil to make a disposable oil. A cup. Of oil. The stuff currently gushing into the Gulf Coast. The two major brands of disposable diapers say they are all over it: their new and improved diapers are getting thinner, so take up LESS landfill. Terrific. 

We can put a man on the moon, cure a bunch of previously incurable diseases but we still bury our waste? Can we evolve a little here? Please?


Why Portland?

Kim & I are often asked why we chose Portland, Oregon to launch gDiapers. We looked at other cities: Austin, Boulder, the State of Vermont. But Portland won the day and this flick shows why. I will say they did a nice job editing out the rain but as they say "no rain, no rainbows"…(With thanks to Miyako K!)

National Small Business Week

Celebrating National Small Business Week

Our friends over at 7th Generation reminded me this morning that it is National Small Business week next week. Here are three ways to get involved. Small business stats always amaze me:  In the U.S., 27 million small businesses create more than 60% of all new

Below is a pick of gDiapers first office – the garden shed back in Sydney 6 years ago! We're still small today – just 15 employees but back then we were really, really small! Kim, me, 1 year old Fynn, Mohican the dog, a business plan and whole lot of hope! More gory details of our start up story are here.


On the daily

Cradle to Cradle product design standard to be at the core of consumer products safety certification

gDiapers was the very first Consumer Packaged Good to receive Cradle to Cradle certification three years ago. I am happy to report that yesterday, Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart – the brains behind C2C opened the Green Products Innovation Institute in San Francisco. It will help establish standards for product safety that will be used by
California regulators when they begin enforcing a state law that
requires manufacturers to find safer ways to make consumer products. Details from the WSJ here.