[quote style=”boxed”]Keep a written list of your ideas. Jot down your ideas, no matter how crazy or unconventional they seem. Revisiting them later can yield even more insights and creative ways to tackle problems.[/quote]
Colayco, 34, is a New York City-based Harvard graduate and web entrepreneur. He invented Clean Cubes two years ago, and the product entered the national consumer market in January 2012.
What are you working on right now?
The next version of Clean Cubes, which hopes to incorporate recycled materials, and offer availability in different designs and sizes.
Where did the idea for Clean Cubes come from?
My wife and I were hosting guests in our New York City apartment, when we were frequently running out of trash space. We resorted to trash bags on the floor which was not an ideal solution. I thought there must be a better alternative, such as a disposable trash can whenever you need instant trash receptacles. There wasn’t a solution available at the time, so I invented it!
What does your typical day look like?
Managing orders with my manufacturer and distribution center, keeping in touch with my sales reps, reaching out directly to retailers/buyers, and finding other methods to promote Clean Cubes. I also regularly attend trade shows, which often require a lot of prep and follow-up work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I keep a list of short term and long term ideas and goals for Clean Cubes on a separate document. I jot down ideas here, tweak them and review them with my advisors in the business.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The awareness and willingness of consumers to seek out ‘green products.’ Clean Cubes are currently 100% biodegradable, and we hope to include recycled materials in the near future. It feels better to be involved in a product that also helps people recycle and be environmentally aware.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was a bank teller for a summer – it was difficult in the sense that it was a busy bank branch, the pay was low, and there was stress involved in handling customers and cash. It taught me to detail oriented while working quickly, and always smile even in the face of angry customers!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Find an advisor or mentor who has gone through the process before of inventing a product, working with manufacturers and selling to retailers. Learning everything is hard enough, but doing it without a teacher or helping hand is even harder!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keep a written list of your ideas. Jot down your ideas, no matter how crazy or unconventional they seem. Revisiting them later can yield even more insights and creative ways to tackle problems.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
It took two years to develop a prototype I was happy with – in retrospect, I failed to get any traction with the product during that time, and should have launched earlier just so I could start getting feedback. I quickly realized that the things I was worried about weren’t even a huge concern for buyers/retailers, and I’ve since learned to iterate and ‘ship’ more quickly!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There should be a product that lets you know if you’ve accidentally left your oven or stove on when you’ve left the house or apartment. I can be forgetful so something like this needs to help folks like myself!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would make entrepreneurship a standard part of public school education. I’d like to see kids see and meet real life entrepreneurs in their communities, so they can have a solid example of something to work towards. Teaching math, for example, in a business context will likely get more students involved and interested in the topic.
Tell us a secret.
I don’t know how to drive! I went to boarding school for high school, didn’t have a car in college, and lived in New York City since then. So I haven’t had a pressing need to learn – that’s my next personal project though!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
– Hacker News (great filtering of relevant tech and startup relevant news stories).
– Amazon.com – not only are Clean Cubes sold via Amazon (and doing very well there), I use Amazon’s prime service to order nearly all office related supplies. They even have same day shipping in New York city.
– Facebook – it’s been a great tool for spreading the word about Clean Cubes.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Art of the Start – Great insights by Guy Kawasaki, who speaks plainly and clearly to help get you going (both with inspiration and practical details).
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My niece recently told me a joke: “What’s Beethoven’s favorite fruit? Ba-na-na-naaaa!”
Who is your hero?
As an entrepreneur, I’d say Elon Musk, who’s now working on Tesla and Space-X. As a serial entrepreneur, it’s a testament to his tenacity. The projects he works on are also very visionary and inspiring.
What is your most recent ‘high’ with your business?
We recently closed a deal with Duane Reade (Walgreen’s subsidiary). We’ll be stocked in approximately 195 stores later this year.
What hobbies do you maintain outside of work?
I play pool weekly in a couple of amateur pool leagues here in New York City; it’s a great chance to socialize and take a break from the workweek.
Clean Cubes on Facebook: www.facebook.com/cleancubes
Javier Colayco on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/javier-colayco/1/890/491
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.