Startup Tips from Founder, Mare Van Dyke
Recently, I went scuba diving in Redondo Beach, California and was looking forward to seeing fish, crabs, lobsters, and some interesting sea snails. But that wasn’t the case. This time, I dropped down into the ocean, and there was a sea of garbage.
I can’t say I was that surprised. ABC News reported that, “approximately 1 billion seabirds and mammals die per year by ingesting plastic bags” and an article at The Mother Nature Network states that, “80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away.”
I was sharing this story with an associate and discovered that she is actually doing something about it. Meet Mare Van Dyke, founding partner of Aqwastream™ and what she had to say during our interview…
Tell us about Aqwastream and why you started the company.
In a nutshell, we are developing a system of personal, water-bottle refill and digital media-stations that dispense free, filtered water on college and corporate campuses. The program for universities will be funded by corporate sponsors and provided to them at no cost.
Aqwastream™ stations include a micro-broadcast network where videos play to promote sponsor sustainability efforts to a targeted audience. Our goal is to partner with sponsors, schools and corporations to attack the issue of plastic-bottle waste one refill at a time.
I’ve worked continuously in various education and marketing related positions for over 40 years. During that time, I had the privilege to learn many facets of business, both B2B and B2C and felt strongly about becoming involved in something that could make a difference in our world – some small action with an educational twist that had a long-term benefit. I’ve been carrying a refillable water bottle for more years than I can remember, so the opportunity to create Aqwastream was a perfect fit.
What makes Aqwastream unique and why do you think it will be successful?
Aqwastream™ is unique because of the total system solution technology we’ve incorporated in our network of stations to educate and engage users. We are taking the idea of the prehistoric “watering hole” or more contemporary “water cooler” concept where users quench their thirst, and get caught up on the important news of the day.
Our broadcast network is designed to display content directly related to issues around sustainability – produced by corporate sponsors or creatively designed by students – and shown in an environment where education and company loyalty can increase engagement and action.
We’re also utilizing M2M (machine to machine) technology to manage all mechanical and technology systems on the station. Sponsors and hosts (corporations and schools) won’t have to worry about maintenance or service calls. We handle it all, having developed a proprietary remote monitoring system.
What has been the most difficult part about starting a new company and becoming an entrepreneur?
From a personal perspective, there’s a lot of buzz around young entrepreneurs taking their great idea to market. You see them on TV, in social media and on magazine covers. The excitement of their risk is buffered by the time they have in life to re-group if they lose all their money or that of their investors.
We don’t hear much about professionals who later in their careers, take their beliefs, experience and savings and combine them to start something new in what’s supposed to be a winding-down time. With everyone “working toward retirement,” you only hear warnings that you’ll end up as Wal-Mart greeters if you fail. In actuality, according to a December 2012 article in Inc. magazine, “Older Entrepreneurs Get a Bum Rap,” those starting businesses later in life have a pretty good shot at success.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far starting Aqwastream?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to get outside of your current network. Fresh opinions and perspectives open your mind to possibilities and new connections. One particular new contact gave me advice that proved to be most valuable. She advised me to take advantage of my years of experience and connect only with those at the top level in each organization. She stressed the importance of “owning the start-up space” and adding value in every category by working top level players.
As a marketing expert, how are you marketing and promoting your new business?
Since becoming a founding partner of Aqwastream LLC, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and green movement professionals are communicating to their constituents. There is a tight network of those who already “get it.” Expanding our concept to broad and targeted audiences will happen through expansive efforts of social media. It’s where we all look to learn.
What tips do you have for other entrepreneurs just starting out?
My tip to new entrepreneurs is to create value right from the beginning by acquiring assets for your business. File for trademarks, create systems with technology, apply for patents, establish your brand standards, set up a solid accounting system, and add equity partners to your team. Put your ego on the sideline and skip the fancy office, address and business expenses that do not add value to the business you are building.
That’s great advice Mare. Is there anything else you would like to add?
One of the most poignant statements that I heard about building a new business or even running an existing company goes like this. “Everything a company does should be done to make it more successful. Everything else is just a waste of time and resources.” For entrepreneurs like me, this is timely advice.
Thanks for your insights Mare, and we wish you all the best with your new business. If you’d like to contact Mare, visit www.aqwastream.com.
Do you have comments or a good, startup story to tell? Please write to us below.
And if you need help with your PR and SEO content strategy to boost sales, please write to me at www.rembrandtwrites.com.