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105 Gene Homicki – transcript

Circular Economy Podcast - Gene Homicki - getting more from less with MyTurn

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Interview Transcript

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Gene Homicki  03:46

At MyTurn we offer we offer easy to use digital infrastructure to enable circular business models that maximise product reuse, provide a little more background. Many of us have too many things that we rarely use. But now imagine the scale problem for businesses, governments organisations. They don’t just have a closet or a little bit of storage at home. They have storerooms, yards and warehouses full of equipment that’s often just gathering dust. In some ways, I really can’t blame them. Prior to founding my turn, our core team worked with large enterprises and government customers. And we know their legacy legacy systems focus on linear business models, and really depreciating equipment focusing on tracking how much value their physical assets are losing quarter after quarter. So we take a familiar but also a radically different approach with mine, my turn. Our platform has everything you needed from Admin dashboards to online catalogues, maintenance, tracking, reverse logistics and commerce to allow organisations to unlock the value of their equipment and their physical assets. So enterprises use my turn to make their way sources are easy to view and share between departments internally, as well as to generate revenue by renting otherwise idle equipment, social social enterprises and innovative organisations of all types. They use MyTurn to offer products, subscription services, like libraries and things where people can conveniently access power tools, sporting goods, electronics, VR headsets, just about any other type of product for a monthly fee without having to purchase them. So I think that’s a little bit of the intro overview, types of things that our platform is enabling.

Catherine Weetman  05:35

Yeah, thanks, Gene. And that’s really interesting. You know, talking about the way we’ve got systems set up, it’s all good. It was all geared around the linear economy. And that’s something that Barry O’Kane talked about when we were talking about software for the circular economy a few episodes ago. And it’s, it suddenly brings it into focus, doesn’t it that what companies are mostly doing is just keeping an eye on the value of the equipment and when things need replacing, and potentially forgetting all about whether this vehicle or piece of materials, handling equipment, or whatever it is, whether they’re actually getting decent use out of that. And sometimes you might need equipment for one specific job. And then, you know, it falls into into disuse, or it’s only used once a year. So there must be a massive amount of potential for companies to get more value for money, and improve the efficiency of their operations by thinking about things differently. So how did you come to start this? What gave you the idea in the first place? And how did you get going?

Gene Homicki  06:50

Yeah, so my background was in technology, and I’ve always had always had a passion for sustainability. About a decade ago, when I was moving cross kind of moving and cross country, from New York to Seattle. Here in the States, I realised I had been living in my previous place for only about five years and just collected a tonne of tools and items. I mean, it was just like amazing how much stuff I had collected over a relatively short period of time. And it felt great when I moved, I donated and sold most of that stuff off. But I still wanted to be able to access those things without having to purchase them. When I got to Seattle, basically got involved with a neighbourhood sustainability group. And one of our members brought the idea of a cool library to us. And so sort of like a library, but instead of borrowing books, you could borrow tools and even other home items these days, that tool library, the West Seattle tool library would probably be called more of a general library of things we got started now. And, you know, this just seemed like, amazing idea. So provide people with affordable access to things without, you know, having to purchase them. And, you know, they can basically just pay a membership fee, and get access to all these things. So my co founder, Nancy, and I had been working together for a long time. So we’re like, Okay, well put together a little, little project to get the inventory online. So that way, people can actually see what’s available, which really get some excitement about it. And that no balled into, like, oh, well, we often need to manage members or customers memberships. Items going out to people, so loans or rentals. And so, and then people typically, if they want to depend on and make these things more convenient, they need to know that it’s going to be available, when they need it if they’re not going to own it. So that out of the idea of reservations. And so this sort of snowballed, and we we knew that. It’s like, there are going to be some other use cases, we were originally thinking things like traditional rental or higher shops. And we’d see, you know, maybe look at that market. But really that first little community level programme, that programme that really tied together environmental, social, and economic, positive outcomes, and it was kind of amazing community building, helping people in the community. This is a little bit in after the financial crisis. So people still out of work. So people were able to repair their homes, start new jobs, start new businesses, and so really saw that positive, that positive output and at the community level, so and that really that became the core or have the monitoring platform. You know, so our first couple of customers, so we sort of put the platform out there website up. It’s our background was custom software. So we had some SEO, first couple of customers were other tool libraries, libraries are things that we’re just getting started then as well, I’m sensing something interesting really happened. We started having businesses and even large enterprises coming to us to manage their equipment internally. These organisations that had enterprise asset management systems, but as I kind of mentioned earlier, they were difficult to use. And they were focused on depreciation on what they had, but not necessarily. Who’s using them right now? How often are they being used? What’s their utilisation? And what’s, you know, how can we increase the value of those assets? And how can you even see them across departments. So, you know, some of the issues, it’s like, as you mentioned earlier, it’s like something would be purchased for one project, it’s kind of put in the storeroom, someone goes and has a similar projects, they don’t really know what’s there, because it’s not easy to find, purchase a few more. And next thing, you know, one of those customers that came to us, they had six or seven copies of essentially the same. Same piece of equipment worth 10s of 1000s of dollars. And they didn’t know did they really need this many. And in this case, they didn’t. But we were able to show them for a little bit, to working with our platform that yeah, they didn’t need six of them, but they did actually need for them. And so that’s that’s how many, you know, might be in use at one time. And so really just kind of expanded from this community, social environmental aspect, also into businesses and really seeing that need for the sort of legacy systems that are linear, linearly focused, rather than sort of reuse and more circular focus

Catherine Weetman  12:07

And I guess, the ability to reserve things, and you know, to be able to be able to know that you’ve got a future need or a regular need for something, and to be secure in the knowledge that you’ll be able to book that piece of equipment and use it, then that can be the key, couldn’t it because I can imagine, you know, lots of teams who might need a power tool or, you know, whatever, from time to time, but the thought of it not being there, when they need the critical, the critical piece of equipment means that you just make sure that, you know, we’ll have our own in this team, and then we don’t need to worry. So that the means of of doing that, and knowing that you’ve got enough in the system to deal with the peak demand. But you haven’t got, you know, one for every possible, you know, non simultaneous use is really powerful, isn’t it? And I guess there’s also the potential, I’m kind of thinking back to my early days at work and doing doing stocktakes. And, you know, things that you could see on the system, and you’re kind of thinking what on earth is this going to be when we when we find it? And so you know, you found the the number of the of the inventory item, but then the description that somebody puts in when they bought it, you kind of thinking why, but why would you call it this? So I guess there’s all that going on? Isn’t there where, you know, people have named things according to what made sense to them, or that they were in a rush or whatever. So they’ve not really named it. And then that makes it impossible for anybody else to even know that it exists in the system.

Gene Homicki  13:50

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s absolutely true. So it’s like, basically, just to go back to one of the things you said on so reservations are booking equipment. Absolutely. So that way people can know that that equipment is going to be available for their use or their team’s use. And it makes it a little bit easier for them to let go a little bit. It’s even whether it’s in business, or personally, we don’t want to let go of things. It’s what if we might need it for that one project six months from now, but if we know that, we can actually book it for our own usage, then we can really track when others can use it. And it makes it a little bit easier to get over that bump of we have to sort of control this ourselves to make sure we have it for our own our own use cases. And so I think that’s apps. Absolutely. Critical bits was your second point there. Sorry.

Catherine Weetman  14:51

Yeah, the the inconsistencies around describing things on the system. So absolutely, yeah.

Gene Homicki  15:00

So, and most, you know, sort of like more enterprise asset management systems, it’s like a small name of an item. Whereas with our platform, people can, can add photos, descriptions, embed videos on how to use those items. Attach, yeah, whether it’s safety manuals or product spec sheets. So that way, even if someone names something a little different, we can do basically full, obviously, full searching of anything that’s entered about those items to make them easier to find, even if they’re Miss named, or miscategorized. within the system, and really just sort of surfacing the equipment within your organisation or between organisations. And making it much more visible, then also makes it easier to find so with one of our customers was internal use at a health care provider doing an innovation library, and someone in a different department of VP and a different department got access to basically a system so they could see what was available. And they’re like, Oh, this is great, I could use this piece of equipment, they reserved it. And even though they definitely say this was early on, and we had fewer, fewer ways for our customers to control who can see and reserve equipment, we fully have countless or role based access controls now that are finer grained, and so that up, it’s like, Well, why didn’t the show up on my desk. And so because they were actually able to see it, and then their department also came on board because they’re like, Okay, this is a great idea. And let’s scale we have equipment that we can offer as well. And let’s actually do this reciprocally. Let’s now collaborate internally, let’s break down some of these silos internally. And so it’s a little bit of step by step of taking these steps towards greater reuse, greater circularity. Potentially starting with a department and going between departments, your next step would be okay, we’re confident and comfortable with how we’re using the equipment within the organisation. We have partners, and some sometimes this happens now, unofficially, we’re we might share equipment with one of our partners or another business. And now that can, you know, expand even further out to other businesses, other organisations?

Catherine Weetman  17:34

And are you going down the sort of ratings route with with users, I mean, you know, if somebody consistently put something back, dirty or broken, or whatever, you know, would, would, would people be able to see that and either at, you know, flag it up that their behaviour needs to change or, you know, decide that they, they won’t be the person to follow that, that user having the vehicle or whatever,

Gene Homicki  18:05

there are some, there are some ways to do that. And platform. In more professional environments, especially that tends to be a little bit less, less of an issue, but that can be flagged, they can then be given more limited access. Basically, maybe that person can no longer borrow certain items. We also have features like buffer time between uses. So that way, if something does come back, and maybe it needs maintenance, even after every time, it comes back or on a on a scheduled basis, that’s all built into the platform as well. And those buffer days, so if something does come back dirty, or you know, there, it needs some sort of repair, how do you say again, how do you help make sure that it’s gonna be available when that next person needs it? So we tried to actually build some of those back Best Practices right into the platform. So there’s a little bit less of the, you know, what’s doing people and just really make it so that way we can handle those situations that are where our customers can handle those situations, just to kind of be clear, which I should have done up front. We at my turn, we don’t own any of the equipment. This is all basically, we provide that digital infrastructure for our customers and try to make it as easy and convenient as possible. Our whole roadmap is making things you know, making reuse easier and easier. Over time.

Catherine Weetman  19:39

Yeah, amazing. And I guess even things like being able to compare one manufacturer’s piece of kit with another in terms of how well something stands up because this is one of the things isn’t it with with shared assets. I was doing a bit for the for the book the other day and using car Sharing as an example, and thinking that, you know, a car that’s suitable for car sharing needs to be very intuitively user friendly, you know, who wants to hire a car for half an hour? And have to read the manual as to you know, how do I get this this bit to work? Or how do I, I had a courtesy car the other week and had to get the book out to find out how to open the boot. Things like that way he sort of thinking this is ridiculous. So all those all those kinds of things, and the you know, the whole monitoring of ease of maintenance, and how much does some something need maintaining? So and that’s all going to become an element of differentiation, isn’t it for those companies that want to put their equipment into these kinds of systems?

Gene Homicki  20:47

Yeah, no, absolutely. So items that are durable and repairable, are become much more valuable, and reuse type systems. Yeah, and it becomes, you know, there can be we have traditional manufacturing, that’s a little bit more along the lines of planned obsolescence, as opposed to reuse. But, you know, so for example, in the Bay Area tools, professional level tools are actually meant for use day to day, and constant and they’re also more of a joy to use. And so those more durable repairable items, they cost more upfront, which people often it’s like, oh, I just don’t gonna go and buy something inexpensive. But those really durable and repairable items do become much more valuable, and reuse situations. And they’re also often more of a joy to use. That’s, you know, that can be true of cars, but yet cars, it can true tools, or just about any item, usually those professional level items are, are much, much better in these shared use and reuse type situations. But the other thing, as you mentioned, sort of user experience, and user interface of whether it’s software or of items, is critical. And so basically making things as easy to use. So even when it comes to ease of use, easy to access. So that’s true, both the items as well as things like our platform. So what we also do is we bring that what you think of more as consumer level? Well, I kind of hate the word consumer. But yeah, I got user level ease of use, as opposed to traditional enterprise software use and you know, we bring the bad and the easy searchability the ease of use to software. And then we’re also working with partners to how do we how do we make, you know, product use even more convenient. So we have a partnership with organisations started as one of our customers, Reiki, the tool library. Now building out circular library network to do electronic locks and lockers and locker systems to make accessing equipment even easier, whether that’s at a at sort of a library of things level at a community level or in business. So to be able to essentially, add some convenience 24/7 access so that way people can easily just go use an app to log in on lock a lock, or get access to either something that’s always there or that they pre planned and pre reserved to pick up. And so basically, that convenience and ease of use is critical in these systems, especially in getting adoption, or getting people to switch from basically I need to purchase everything and own it, assuming I can afford it to moving to those access type systems

Catherine Weetman  24:03

is the kind of under on demand aspect of it. Yeah. And that reminds me a bit of the Thingery in Vancouver, which was the kind of concept of a library of things in a in a shipping container. Solar powered, so it didn’t even need to be on the on the grid.

Gene Homicki  24:20

Absolutely familiar with them, they’re another one of our customers

Catherine Weetman  24:24

Ah, right. Oh, brilliant. That’s good. So great. So we’ve talked a bit about how you’ve made it easier for users and asset owners. And I’m guessing the software is a bit of a kind of, you know, a solution in a box. So the setup is all quite quick as well.

Gene Homicki  24:44

Absolutely. I mean, it’s, you know, so literally go sign up, create your site, we’ve had customers that they’ve gone, they’ve created their my turn site. They’ve imported their inventory since they already had it either in another system or spreadsheet. And up in lending within a few hours, I wouldn’t say that’s typical. But that we do have some of those customers that really can get up and running very, very quickly. So this isn’t like, oh, you need to put in a massive implementation. It is a b2b, white label software as a service platform. So you can sign up for your account, enter in import your inventory, do some configuration, you know, assuming you want to offer reservations, you want to configure different fulfilment methods. So to pick up a lot, a lot of our customers are very local, which is also a big benefit for when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. So you’re doing reuse at a local level, so you’re not doing a lot of transportation, so but we do have other customers that will ship or deliver sometimes the knees, electronic lockers, so you can configure those different fulfilment methods, configure your open and closed days, you know, everything that you typically do, as well as your maintenance schedules, mentioned sort of stock takes or inventory checks, that’s all in there as well, if you want to do one of those initially, or quarterly or yearly. So really, it’s a complete platform. And you can dig in deeper, but you can get started with the basics. be up and running really quickly. And then sort of sort of dig as go deeper as you need to with the platform.

Catherine Weetman  26:38

Yeah, and we’ve, we’ve talked about a few of the kind of psychological barriers to using these kinds of systems, like, you know, the psychology of ownership and feeling more secure, that you’ve got 24/7 access to the tool you might only need once a year. But what other kinds of barriers are you coming up against? And how, how are you overcoming those.

Gene Homicki  27:04

So I’ll actually go back to sort of an early, the prize we had talked about a little bit. But one, there’s always there’s always converting from an existing system or adding another system on so. So when someone’s entrenched, but we’ve been really actually sort of surprised by how many of our customers don’t know, kind of don’t know what they don’t know, they don’t know where their equipment is right now. And so you know, getting them on board getting their inventory, their assets entered, they have to, in some cases, find them, they might know at some of those descriptions, and their systems might not be up to date, some of the equipment might be gone. And so really getting them getting them on boarded, and getting them to change procedures, if any, you know, software really is only going to be valuable, it’s only going to give you those benefits if you actually use it, but making sure that they’re actually using it. So we do offer things like especially for our larger customers that might need it with more complex use cases, training and onboarding. And, you know, we were just kind of surprised and almost taken aback at such, especially the larger enterprise customers that kind of don’t, they don’t have a good idea of their own internal utilisation. So to try to so it’s been more of a challenge, where we’ve had to do a lot more implementation of taking those old linear software systems and really making them you know, more adapted to a circular system system. But as opposed to being able to put a layer on top of the old systems, it’s just hasn’t worked. So we’ve really had to build out a lot more of that back end infrastructure than we ever, ever thought we would early on. So it’s yeah, they’re always surprises. That’s, that’s been kind of a big one. But then to sort of get them over the hump, get them over, you know, over moving from those more linear systems and the psychology there. So some of it is their customers or pushing them with ESG efforts, climate efforts. We’ve seen like the UN resource panel is basically we had a report out a few years ago that reuse can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 99%. So over essentially, new products and in some sectors, so we have sort of those environmental, social reasons. We are also seeing and we saw during especially the worst of COVID Supply Chain disruptions. But I don’t think those are going away. So we’re seeing more onshoring of manufacturing. So, prices going up on certain equipment, so getting more use out of that equipment, as well as inflation. So getting more use out of your existing equipment is going to be critical. And then also, you can’t just, Okay, well, we’re used to just buying more and new stuff all the time, whether this is that household level or at a business level, it’s just not going to, you know, it’s not going to work out that’s not even to mention going into the whole resource constrained world and biodiversity loss and how we can’t basically we can’t keep on this consumption level as as a society, but just from the economic point of view, and supply chain disruption point of view, we’re gonna need to basically do more with the things that we already have. So that’s going to be internally at a business and then also, between other businesses and in other business groups.

Catherine Weetman  31:06

Yeah, that’s really interesting that suddenly, a lot of those, you know, it’s kind of the way I look at it is that, you know, we’ve now reached quite a few tipping points in terms of the competition for resources, not just materials. But you know, competition for low cost labour, competition for availability of transport, you know, competition in terms of buying for microchips, and all that sort of stuff, which sector has got most most power and can afford to pay more. And so the knock on effects of some of those things that seem to be quite niche, then extend out into all sorts of other supply chains. So this whole mindset shift around being frugal with resources and trying to be more self sufficient, in terms of, you know, local, and knowing what’s in you in your own supply chain that you can use over and over again, I think those are going to be becoming more and more important as time goes on. And is there anything that you particularly struggled with over the period of building up my turn?

Gene Homicki  32:22

Like I said, the big one is just really realising how big of an issue this is, and having to go back and build out more of that infrastructure. And more of those, you know, what we considered, you know, sort of back end tools that we didn’t necessarily think we need. We also can’t, you know, come out of enterprise software development. So we did large projects for ABC News during the State National Science Foundation. So enterprise government, and so we take a little more careful approach. And so we might seem to move a little bit slower than most organisations, we take really security into every step of the way. And so sometimes we kind of feel like, Oh, we’re, we’re falling behind, we can’t just throw stuff out there and make it work. There needs to be petition, but I think that’s really served, it has ended up serving us well, given, we’re ready for things like GDPR, or other privacy related things. And just now with how important and critical security is we hear about. And this becomes such, such a big, a big focus and making sure that our platform is secure is protecting, providing good data protection. And then I’ll say one area where, you know, we’re focusing now that we haven’t done as good a job as I wish we wish we had had is on accessibility. So basically easily, which comes down to both ease of use of the platform, which we’ve done a pretty good job on, but making sure people with disabilities, whether it’s state type issues, making sure they can really use the platform as easily as anyone else and making sure that anyone can vote from for our customers, customers, as well as for our customers. And so we have a sort of a big, big push, push there right now to us it is it is critical to be as inclusive as possible for these types of services, so I’d say those are two areas that we’ve done a lot of work and yeah, and we have still have more to go.

Catherine Weetman  34:37

Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. And it’s something I’d not thought of, but I was immediately thinking back to the you know, filling in the old text or whatever it’s called on when you putting images online. And then, you know, I think it was a while before I’d properly understood what that was for that it wasn’t just for SEO. It was because you know, people could hear it and then think you know, be able to do a better job on how I’m describing this this image?

Gene Homicki  35:04

Where, yeah, where the screen readers and yeah, that’s an that’s a good percentage of people and their primary primary interface. And so but most of those things, things that you’re doing to help with for accessibility also tend to help everyone else because you’re really making things clearer, easier to use. And so it’s really, it’s really a win win.

Catherine Weetman  35:28

Yeah, yeah, just gets you thinking more about, you know, what, what, what’s the important thing to say here? Doesn’t it instead of just going to go in with you first thought on how do I fill in this box? And Gene? Are there any exciting developments in the pipeline that you want to tell us about?

Gene Homicki  35:48

Oh, yeah, so we have a pretty huge roadmap, one of the ones that’s coming up, is we’re going to be releasing, basically greenhouse gas emission, reduction recording, so a climate reporting on reuse of products over purchasing them now. So really looking at, you know, instead of someone you avoided purchases of this product, what are your savings there, and then also improvements to sort of our cost savings. So again, over reuse over purchasing additional products. So that’s, that’s sort of some of our more exciting stuff on the KPIs. And then as kind of discussed, more integration with things like electronic locks lockers, to make things much easier to access 24/7. That’s, they are now but you know, additional improvements there. And so on, we established kind of a great roadmap, long roadmap. So but everything, any anything we can do, to essentially make reuse, easier than purchasing new. That’s, that’s on our roadmap and showing the importance of it.

Catherine Weetman  37:04

Yeah, brilliant. And I can imagine that being really, really useful for lots of companies, as everybody tries to get better at reporting on carbon and showing that they’re making a difference. And so gene, when you’re talking to other startups, and particularly those companies that are thinking about doing something circular or going more circular, what’s the lesson learned that you, you’d like to share with them?

Gene Homicki  37:31

So that they can get get going, there’s really, there’s really nothing stopping, especially when it comes to reuse, if they have any sort of equipment, they have any sort of resources that at a minimum using internally, how do they track them and make the most use of them? That’s like, there’s, there’s really there’s a lot of low hanging fruit when it comes to the circular economy. If they’re ready, they’re a startup, they want to offer a product subscription service. Yeah, yeah, just, you know, kind of just do it also, really get get your platform out there. Yeah, this was a tough one to learn, especially coming out of the enterprise space, in that launch before you’re ready. Launch before things are perfect. You know, aside from I’ll say, on the security side, that’s actually a pretty security and data privacy side. But aside from that, get, get something out there, get an MVP out there. Don’t reinvent the wheel, if you can, if there’s a platform, whether it’s ours or some other one that can solve most of your problems, at least for your MVP. Start there. You can always build there. And then, you know, if you find that you’re outgrown that platform, or you need something, want to work with them, CFO expand the most important thing, and we really need to move on circularity on climate on reducing consumption. Consumption really drives also a lot of climate crisis. And so we can really reduce that and move as quickly as we can work together as opposed to necessarily trying to compete, like how can we actually my it’s like, work together, we’re where you tried to do that we’d rather partner than compete, a little bit of cooperation can be great. But let’s let’s kind of like work together and use the platforms out there. Let’s improve them. And just the scale and speed we need is critical, especially right now, latest IPCC report out last week that our time is shorter things are kind of, you know, more critical. And so moving faster. Now. So let’s, let’s kind of just let’s get a little bit.

Catherine Weetman  39:48

Yeah, I think I think you’re right. And certainly the minimum viable product is really good. I’ve just been reviewing some grant application And a lot of those had cut, we’re kind of going from, here’s our idea. And then we want all this funding to kind of build the product. And nowhere was there was there any kind of, you know, testing of of this as to whether people actually said they wanted it and, and what you know what kind of thing they were looking for. So even though it it feels like it gets mentioned all the time and how to start your business, and people still miss it out, don’t

Gene Homicki  40:27

do that MVP talk to go talk to as many potential customers as possible for building your product, make sure there is make sure people use it. People don’t always know what they want. But yeah, present and user testing. Absolutely. No, you’re, you’re absolutely right. It’s, it’s critical. And then do your MVP, learn and learn from that. And then yeah, so we’ve had a number of essentially, we almost consider our platform can be for experimentation and incubation. So a lot of the time our customers will stick with us, sometimes they’ll go off, and it’s like, they’ve done their MVP on our platform. And that’s great. If they’re doing anything around reuse, we just want we want to see them succeed. Because there is so much work to do, this is such a big market, that it’s like just do what you can to kind of get going

Catherine Weetman  41:20

that yeah, that that’s really, really inspiring, you know, kind of just helping people fledge into this new system, whether it whether they stick with you or kind of go off and do their own bespoke thing. But the important thing is, the mindset changes in it and seeing a different way of getting value from the equipment and assets that you’ve got. And Gene, is there somebody that you’d recommend as a future guests for the programme?

Gene Homicki  41:49

So I don’t have a specific recommendation. But I’d actually recommend sort of expanding out into areas that are related to the circular economy and also that are sort of foundational to what’s the circular economy trying to solve. So, you know, sort of touched on this, but climate is a huge, huge issue. And, you know, if you look at it from a consumption perspective, with resource extraction, global supply chain, so manufacturing, transportation storage, a lot of these are the big components that other people are working on. So energy use transport, transportation, and what’s all that stuff worth often for consumption? And so how do we sort of you know, so yeah, circular economy, we really need to reduce consumption, reduce consumption. And so how do we tie in? Energy, so on sort of on the climate and energy side, Dave Roberts says, the volts podcast, he has been in this for a long time. So it might be somewhat interesting, sort of cross pollinate the ideas of circular economy, climate behaviour changes and other you huge, huge issue, because that’s, that’s one of the reasons I’ve been in tech for a long time. And one of the reasons I got into tech is looking for what are the what are the biggest challenges did a lot of cutting edge technology, but the thing that is a much, much bigger challenge is cultural and behaviour change? And so how do we pull those levers? So talking to people in those areas, I think getting them and introducing new audiences is really, I think, going to be critical.

Catherine Weetman  43:32

And I think that ties back to what you were saying about the sort of mindset shift, particularly after the last recession, and, and after COVID, as well, that people are sort of seeing hiccups or, you know, big issues in their businesses around availability and supply chain disruptions, and so on. And then realising that sharing and and better utilisation of the same assets, helps them with that, and also helps them with these bigger issues that perhaps feel a bit more nebulous, and it feels harder to understand what you can do to influence those. So I think you’re right, that, you know, tying circular strategies and approaches into the bigger picture so people can see here are the direct benefits for our day to day business. But look what else we’ve achieved on the way. I think that’s that’s a really good suggestions to, you know, kind of frame the bigger picture around things. So thank you. And Gene, if you could wave a magic wand and change one thing to make a better world, what would that be?

Gene Homicki  44:38

Yeah, so this sounds also also tough. I don’t think there’s like one sort of technological or economic fix that can really address the challenges were doing. But what I’d probably do is just give everyone a little more empathy. So really, to understand what other people are going through people not that are part of their tribe, and how other things, how the decisions they make, the things they purchase, the way the services they use, how does that impact other people, and really trying to think about the world from their point of view. And I think that would be something that could sort of get to the root of a lot of these problems, whether it’s environmental issues or social issues, when people really understand and can feel when other people are feeling, I think that’s kind of that I think could really help. I wish I had that magic wand. But hopefully, through some of the work that we’re doing, we can make some of that happen.

Catherine Weetman  45:37

Yeah, and it’s another it’s another one of those mindset shifts, isn’t it that sometimes it just takes one story or one experience to give people a different window on how what they’re doing in their everyday life without questioning it, you know, how they can suddenly look at things differently. And, and sometimes, and I’m trying to think, think of an example. But it’s probably going to be a long story. But sometimes you you suddenly discover something. And that changes your whole outlook on doing that thing again. You know, maybe I don’t know, kids, apparently. Yeah, one of one of my podcast guests was was helping children in school understand what was in their clothing. And kids were shocked to discover that oil petrochemicals, were in most of what they were wearing. And that suddenly made them think completely differently about the clothes they were buying. So yeah, all sorts of ways to, to trigger that. So Gene, how

Gene Homicki  46:45

those emotional changes, it’s really tugging on the emotions to get people the changes.

Catherine Weetman  46:50

Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. So it’s, it’s finding those leverage points, isn’t it? And those stories that, you know, that don’t, we were talking before the podcast, weren’t we about people’s individual journeys. So you don’t want to kind of shock somebody and switch them off entirely, by making them feel that they’re being blamed for the entire consequences of the world that we live in now. But seeing things that they perhaps didn’t realise, and giving them an easy way to do things differently, just as you’re doing with the, you know, you can share all of this stuff, and it’s, you know, makes the company more efficient. And that might mean, you know, slightly higher wages or better customer, you know, whatever it is. So, you know, finding ways to unlock that. So, finally, Gene, how can people find out more and get in touch.

Gene Homicki  47:41

So, best place is to visit our website, And so kind of, definitely reach out. If you are looking to sort of do something basic or do a whole circular transformation of your business or starting your startup, whether your community whether you’re an enterprise, we are happy to work with you and get you started on that journey to more circular and sustainable business models.

Catherine Weetman  48:12

Fantastic. Well, thanks so much Gene, for taking the time out to share the story so far, for my turn. And it’s great to hear about a business that’s helping people get more use out of underused objects, and finding ways to make useful and, and fun stuff more affordable and accessible. So I look forward to following progress over the next year or so.

Gene Homicki  48:34

Great, thank you so much, Catherine, and it’s been a pleasure.

Want to dig deeper?

Why not buy Catherine’s award-winning book, A Circular Economy Handbook: How to Build a More Resilient, Competitive and Sustainable Business. This comprehensive guide uses a bottom-up, practical approach, and includes hundreds of real examples from around the world, to help you really ‘get’ the circular economy.  Even better, you’ll be inspired with ideas to make your own business more competitive, resilient and sustainable. 

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