I’m the founder of a zero-waste toothpaste company that was featured on Shark Tank. Here’s what my day is like managing a team of 9 remote employees.

Bite founder and CEO Lindsay McCormick.
Bite founder and CEO Lindsay McCormick.

  • Lindsay McCormick is the founder and CEO of Bite, a sustainable toothpaste tablet company.
  • Since a video of her product went viral on Facebook, McCormick says her business has taken off.
  • Here’s what a day in her life looks like working from home and managing nine employees.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

No matter when I go to bed, I try to get up around 7:30 a.m. We have a lot of late nights (hello, startup life) but I feel like waking up around the same time helps me perform my best, even if it means a little less sleep.

Every morning, I scan my texts and emails in bed to make sure there are no emergencies before starting my morning routine. I spend a few minutes in bed cuddling with my rescue pup, Nemo, before I get up to brush my teeth.

My company, Bite, makes toothpaste tablets, so a lot of the time I’ll be trying out a new flavor we’re working on. I keep a notebook by the sink so I can jot down thoughts and changes I’d like to make while I brush.

I try to meditate for about 30 minutes and spend another 30 minutes either reading and drinking tea or going on a run and listening to an audiobook before digging into emails at 9 a.m.

My boyfriend Asher and I run the company out of our apartment in Marina del Rey, California, where we converted two of the bedrooms into office spaces and one room into a content studio.

Since we’re right on the ocean, I love being able to go for a walk on the beach when I take calls or need to clear my head.

Once the team logs in around 10 a.m., we’re fully locked in and it’s nonstop work until 7 p.m..

We have a small team of just nine employees, so there’s a lot to get done every single day.

Asher and I touch base around 8 p.m. to recap our work day and tackle whatever tasks we need to work on together. Around 9:30 p.m., I usually go on a run (I love running on the beach at night) or I’ll read or watch TV until going to bed around 11pm.

We have a tableting machine in the middle of our office, and I still use it to test out our seasonal flavors and new products. Our tablets are now made in an outside facility here in Los Angeles, but I created our toothpaste and mouthwash formulas (with the sign-off from some dentists and chemists that we work with) and still do our development in-house, so at any time there are various scents and oils wafting around the apartment.

I started Bite in 2017 in order to create a sustainable toothpaste product.

Bite toothpaste products.
Bite toothpaste products.

After learning about the harsh chemicals that are in a lot of commercial toothpaste and the millions of toothpaste tubes that end up in our landfills and oceans every year, I wanted to make a difference. I’ve always been passionate about conservation and the environment, so I started taking online chemistry classes and reaching out to every dentist and dental hygienist I knew to get their advice.

The idea was that the toothpaste tablets would come in a glass jar that could be kept and refilled – that way there would be no plastic toothpaste tubes and none of the harsh preservatives needed to keep bacteria growing in the wet paste.

While working full-time as a TV producer, I started making the toothpaste tablets on a hand-press tableting machine at night.

I labeled and filled the glass bottles in our living room, then I’d pack up every order and drop them off on my way to work in the morning.

That all changed overnight in 2018 when a video about our product went viral on Facebook, and our sales skyrocketed.

Both my boyfriend and I left our jobs to work on Bite full time. We launched new products like a bamboo toothbrush and mouthwash tablets, and quickly grew to an 8-figure business.

We’re bootstrapped, so instead of raising money through traditional investors, our business is powered by our customers and their support. I spend 30 minutes to an hour each day connecting with our community, often on social media through comments or DMs, and sometimes on the phone.

Being on Shark Tank in February 2020 was a wild experience.

The morning of our shoot, we had an issue pop up with our manufacturer and were literally on the phone up until it was time for us to walk on the stage – running a business never stops! We had spent a ton of time preparing beforehand but even still, I was floored by how well it went. I was so nervous, you can see my hands shaking during our pitch, but the Sharks were extremely kind and receptive to our business and growth which was amazing.

We received two offers, one from Mark Cuban and one from Kevin O’Leary, but we didn’t end up taking either. I think anyone who has their own business should run through the thought process of what they would say if they went on Shark Tank; it’s a great way to practice your elevator pitch and showcase your business strategy from the inside out.

We were fortunate to not feel the brunt of the pandemic as our team has always been small and operating from home.

Lindsay McCormick in the early days of developing Bite toothpaste. Early days   In Lab (1)
McCormick in the early days of developing Bite toothpaste.

We’re also made in the US, right up the street from “HQ” (our living room) so our supply chain wasn’t impacted. And because so many people were buying online and thinking about their health and the planet, we were exposed to new customers and were able to grow.

We also started new projects to keep our spirits up with the team, including making hand sanitizer to donate to organizations here in Los Angeles on Skidrow. We channeled our formulation background into tracking down the supplies and began manufacturing in-house, strictly to donate. It really helped us bond as a team and to focus outside of ourselves when the world felt upended. It’s been a wild ride, but every challenge has helped us grow and improve.

My advice for fellow entrepreneurs is to get used to the feeling of being on unsteady ground.

It never goes away, so you might as well embrace it from the start. What I’ve learned about business so far is to be successful, you need to look for the opportunities that others don’t see and that usually means you’re one of the only ones on that path. Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable and know we’re all figuring it out as we go along.

Lindsay McCormick is the founder and CEO of Bite, the all-natural, zero-waste, and cruelty-free toothpaste tablets and accessories on a mission to become the world’s most sustainable personal care company.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Plastic-free and low-waste startups say they saw a massive spike in sales throughout the COVID-19 pandemic

Blueland's products.
Blueland’s products.

  • Companies that prioritize low-waste or zero plastic use boomed alongside single-use plastics during COVID-19.
  • Blueland, a green cleaning products maker, grew 800% year-over-year during COVID-19.
  • These eco-friendly companies predict this growth will continue.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The demand for single-use plastic-based products like takeout containers has skyrocketed throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but as this plastic use rises, so have sales for companies focused on low waste and the elimination of unnecessary plastic use.

According to a report by CBS in August, environmentalists are concerned by this uptick in single-use plastics and plastic waste during the global coronavirus crisis. A microplastics expert has even gone as far as to say that this resulting damage could “last forever,” according to a report by BBC published in September 2020.

During this time, zero-waste traditionalists also started using plastic again. This includes Lauren Singer, CEO of Package Free Shop and a self-proclaimed “zero waste environmental activist,” according to her Instagram profile, who published a 10-slide Instagram post in March 2020 describing why she decided to purchase plastic items in late March as the coronavirus pandemic started taking hold of the US.

“For eight years, I have lived a zero-waste lifestyle, meaning I have not sent anything to landfill and, over that time, I have made every effort to be a near-perfect pillar of my values,” Singer wrote in her Instagram post. “But two weeks ago, when the reality of COVID-19 set in, I made some choices that went against the way I have lived my life for almost a decade.”

Read more: 3 women leading the zero-waste movement reveal how they’re managing to change the world while making a profit

Like Singer, several companies also started shifting towards single-use plastic items again. Starbucks, for example, stopped accepting the use of reusable cups, and some states and cities began banning the use of reusable grocery bags in grocery stores, according to a report by Today.

Despite all of this single-use plastic bombardment, companies focused on decreasing waste and plastic use – like Blueland, EcoRoots, by Humankind, and Wild Minimalist – started seeing an increase in sales.

A surprising surge in sales

Blueland's products.
Blueland’s products.

Blueland, a carbon-neutral company that creates “environmentally responsible” cleaning products without single-use plastics, saw an increase in demand by over 300% in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic’s arrival in the US, according to Blueland’s CEO and co-founder Sarah Paiji Yoo in an October 2020 email interview with Insider. Overall, the company has grown 800% year over year.

According to Paiji Yoo, Blueland had already been seeing rapid growth before the pandemic, but this growth was then expedited with the onset of COVID-19 and the boom in both e-commerce and sustainable living. And so far, the increase in demand has stayed steady during the pandemic.

Blueland has also received several certifications – including B Corp and EPA Safer Choice – to maintain its eco-friendly title and combat the trend of “greenwashing.” According to Paiji Yoo, it’s the company’s “environmental mission” that’s been allowing the company to both retain and attract new customers.

“While the e-commerce boom can be credited as an element of our growing audience base, our ability to maintain the business says something about people shifting their priorities to become more conscious consumers, specifically on matters of sustainable living and the benefits of planet and people-friendly products,” Paiji Yoo said.

Even though the company was expecting an increase in demand for its products during the coronavirus pandemic, the rapid growth caught the Blueland team by surprise.

“As a result, we decided to strategically double down on our direct-to-consumer channel, add a subscription model to make receiving refills seamless, and shift our timeline for a larger entry into wholesale to a later date,” Paiji Yoo wrote.

Why sustainability-focused companies grew

EcoRoots Produce Bags
EcoRoots produce bags.

By Humankind – a carbon-neutral personal care products maker that also doesn’t use single-use plastics – doesn’t attribute its growth amid the coronavirus pandemic to just one aspect.

“Maybe people are looking for meaning in new places,” By Humankind’s co-founder and CEO Brian Bushell wrote in an email interview with Insider in November 2020. “Who knows? The important thing is, it’s happening.”

By Humankind, which is almost two years old, has been growing five times year-over-year pre-coronavirus, and this growth did not drop off during the pandemic.

“Because we’re a small company, we’re able to be nimble and create products where we see customer demand while being true to the mission to eliminate single-use plastic,” Bushell wrote.

This includes the roll-out of its plastic-free moisturizing hand sanitizer, which was launched in April 2020.

“When the pandemic arrived and with it the spike in demand for hand sanitizer that won’t dry your hands, we accelerated our launch timeline for our hand sanitizer … ahead of some of the other products we’re working on to meet demand,” Bushell wrote.

According to Bushell, the plastic-free hand sanitizer bottles were also launched in response to the growing number of small sanitizer bottles that were being used and tossed. However, the company’s hand soap has remained a consumer favorite.

EcoRoots – a zero-waste company that sells products with sustainable packaging – also saw an increase in sales for its eco-friendly soaps, as well as its beauty products, EcoRoots’ co-founder Antonia Pitica told Business Insider in an email interview in November 2020. However, sales for the company’s reusable coffee cups dropped.

Pitica attributes this increase in demand to elements like the growth of the zero waste movement and conscious shopping, marketing, and the explosion of online shopping, especially for personal care items.

But like other companies across all industries, EcoRoots ran into order fulfillment issues this year, specifically with shipping and delivery problems.

“We have to place orders ahead of time, sometimes months ahead, to be able to satisfy the demand, and that puts a lot of pressure on cashflow,” Pitica wrote. “USPS is and will continue to be the e-commerce business’s biggest proverbial Achilles heel as this transition to online shopping keeps growing.”

Growth so big, a company had to move facilities

By Humankind.
By Humankind.

Wild Minimalist – another online plastic-free and sustainability-focused business that also has a brick and mortar store in California – “essentially doubled overnight,” Wild Minimalist co-founder Max Cameron told Business Insider in an interview in October 2020.

Wild Minimalist had been at least doubling its growth annually since it was founded in 2017, but sales during the coronavirus pandemic allowed the company to hit its 2020 targets almost immediately.

“As soon as we got into April 2020, [we got to] the point where we had to move into a new facility that was triple the size because we had to hold more inventory and the demand was increasing,” Cameron said.

During this time, the company started struggling to meet orders due to delays and backlogs, which also happened in part because of supply chain issues. However, this initial boom in sales has since tapered off and “come back down to manageable levels,” according to Cameron.

During this time of growth, Wild Minimalist saw a specific uptick in sales of its cleaning tools and “food preservation product line” as more people started grocery shopping more and eating out at restaurants less. To accommodate this change in purchasing behavior, the company began looking into extending its product line.

Demand for certain products stayed so strong throughout COVID-19, Wild Minimalist recently “signed long-term agreements with some vendors to guarantee increased supply,” Cameron told Insider in May.

“Another thing that’s been really important for us is picking up new vendors that are owned by [people who are] Black, Indigenous, and people of color, and we’ve heard that loud and clear from our customer base,” Cameron continued.

Growth is not dependent on the pandemic

By Humankind.
By Humankind.

“I think that as the movement grows, larger companies will probably start re-thinking their goals, their ideal target customers, and the ways that they create new products,” Pitica wrote. “And frankly, it was about time for the old ways of doing business to change.”

The companies agree that this boom in sales isn’t just a COVID-19-related trend and that demand for sustainable, eco-friendly products will not drop off after the coronavirus pandemic.

“People will continue to clean more frequently and consciously, and there has been a permanent acceleration to e-commerce for buying cleaning products,” Paiji Yoo wrote. “For Blueland specifically, we feel well-positioned for long-term success beyond the pandemic, as we’re continuing to build a strong foundation for the business that will benefit us post-COVID.”

Read the original article on Business Insider