Part 17 in a series where Krates Ng (co-founder of Mokugift the ecard service) interviews fellow ecopreneurs. Today, Krates interviews Tom Cannon, the CEO and co-founder of BungoBox. BungoBox rents reusable plastic moving bins as an alternative to cardboard boxes.
1. Why did you start your company?
We started our company because we realized the need for an alternative to cardboard. Surprisingly, until now, there really hasn’t been a good alternative. Weʼve been using the same environmentally unfriendly materials for the past several hundred years. And, unfortunately only half of the cardboard Americans use actually gets recycled. The rest gets tossed into the garbage. If it’s up to us, though, that will all change. Who knows, maybe 20 years from now cardboard will be a thing of the past.
In a nutshell, here’s how BungoBox works: Let’s say a customer decides to move from a three-bedroom house, BungoBox would make a free delivery of the stackable moving boxes, which come in 3- and 4-cubic-foot sizes. The customer pays $1.75 for a large BungoBox for a week, but if it’s needed longer, the price is cut 50 percent. Customers get free labels. After the move, the moving boxes are picked up at the new residence for free.
2. Is there a story behind the name of your company?
I came up with the name PungoBox one day. Pungo means move in Latin, so it seemed like a good fit. I told my cousin, Bob, who co-founded the company with me, and he thought I said BungoBox. Turns out, we liked that name even better and it stuck.
3. What was the toughest challenge in getting your company through the most recent growth stage and how you overcame the challenge?
Everything will cost more and take longer than you expect. No matter how conservative you are on the front end, no matter what cushion is built into early numbers, they will be wrong. This occurs because everything is just a guess, most numbers are pulled out of thin air and massaged into some sort of artful projection. If you have remodeled or built a house, you know exactly what I am talking about. The thing is, you cannot leave your home half remodeled, and you cannot leave your company half built either. Money is the key to solving these problems. Most start-ups fail because of lack of capital, not because of the idea. I learned that you must always be looking at least 3 to 6 months ahead, and if you need money in six months you better be aware of it and be working to solve that problem, with investors or loans.
4. Can you describe the moment when you knew that your company hit full stride as a business?
I’m not sure any business owner ever really feels like their business has really hit full stride, however, we knew that we had a solid business when we became profitable in our first office in the first year of operation. It was further validation for us was when others decided to partner with us, invest in our idea and become part of the BungoBox family by purchasing franchises.
5. If you had to pick one product in your lineup, which one would you showcase and why?
Our business works because it’s a comprehensive system. If we take one element out, it is not as viable. However, our showcase product is really the combination of two products, which forms the perfect solution. It is the Large BungoBox and the Custom fitted 4 wheel Dolly called BungoWheels. These two products together make moving a snap. In other words, we say “you can pack, stack and roll them right out the door.”
6. How is your company going to grow in 2011? And how can other ecopreneurs help?
We are growing rapidly, even quicker than we could have dreamed of. We launched a franchise option late last year and have already opened three franchise locations (South Florida, Arizona and Tampa) this year. We will be announcing our international expansion into Canada soon, too. For more about our franchise options, visit www.bungobox.com/about/franchise. Other ecopreneurs could certainly help by spreading the word about BungoBox. Once people know about us, they tend to become raving fans because it’s an idea that just makes sense environmentally and economically. Word of mouth has been huge for us.
Ecopreneurist Interview: Orontas
Ecopreneurist Interview: Sustainable Life Solutions
Ecopreneurist Interview: pure citizen