There is much to despise about traveling, from packing and unpacking to airport congestion and jetlag. Ann Riphenburg wanted to make at least one thing easier for travelers: recycling. She found herself collecting recyclable items used during her family trips because she could not bear to throw them away in the hotel room garbage cans. “Recycling has been ingrained in us; we recycle at home, in public places and in the workplace. It felt wrong to now just throw all of it in the garbage.” Nine years ago, Ann decided she wanted to design a product that was simple and provided a small step towards a larger purpose. And the reCollect2® recycling receptacle was born.
The unique product, the reCollect2 receptacle, consists of three parts: a base and two removable bins, which allow for the separated materials to remain so during disposal. The reCollect2 receptacle is made from a sturdy material and is itself completely recyclable. It can be rinsed out easily, so there is no need for a separate liner inside the product. The reCollect2 is proudly made in the USA and can be individually customized with messages or company logos.
Ann was initially intimidated by creating her own product and starting a small business, but her husband, Jason, now co-owner of reCollect2 Company, gave her the final push of encouragement. Jason said, “We talked a lot about this idea. Then we created a prototype and finally said, ‘Okay, it’s time to do this or don’t.’ ”
The couple followed their dream and opened for business but found running a small company comes with its own challenges. Since Ann and her husband oversee all departments, the couple quickly learned they are limited in time and resources as entrepreneurs. Overcoming these challenges, though, has proven to be extremely rewarding.
They started with nothing more than a dream, but Ann and Jason have seen tremendous growth year after year. They have clients in every state except Hawaii and have shipped internationally to Canada and London and will soon ship to Central America as well.
Accomplishments with Southeast WI SBDC
- Financial projections
- Funding resources
- Expansion strategies
Several years into their business growth, Ann and Jason realized that their existing tooling was deteriorating. With new tooling, they developed an improved product design that would be integral to their company’s growth and success; however, without the right lender they knew they would not be able to secure the funding necessary to produce the new design. Ann and Jason met with a business consultant at the Waukesha County Center for Growth, a partnership with Wisconsin’s Small Business Development Centers.
Lucy Waldhuetter with the Center for Growth saw Ann and Jason’s vision, understood where they came from and recognized where their business was heading. Due to the type of tooling needed, there were some tricky obstacles to consider, but Lucy provided the two entrepreneurs with financial projections and connected them with the right lender. Due to Lucy’s help, reCollect2 Company is now able to sustain their growing business. Ann and Jason recognized they did not have the expertise necessary to tackle this problem alone. “Without the help of the Center for Growth, it would have taken a substantial amount of time, energy and resources to find the right lender for our business,” Ann noted.
Her recognition of a recycling need in her own life was a catalyst to something bigger and greater. “I would rather try and fail than not try at all,” Ann explained. She knew that something small like the reCollect2 would matter not only to herself, but also to others and to the health of the planet. Ann exemplifies the real difference between a dreamer and a doer; she became an entrepreneur who turned her values and vision into a viable business.