Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sustainability but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Noel Carroll, CEO of Biofriendly, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Biofriendly was founded with the express purpose of solving the world's air quality problems. To that end, we introduced the Green Plus® energy transition fuel additive to the market. Twenty years later, Green Plus has cleaned over 14.8 billion gallons of fuel and removed enough pollution to take the equivalent of a 270-mile lineup of cars off the road every year. At Biofriendly, our customers are companies that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, increase their fuel efficiency and be better stewards of the environment.
As a part of our commitment to the planet, we've also created Biofriendly Planet, which is a website and network that's based around giving environmental information and education. The overall concept is that it gives you ideas that are actually very easy to implement into your own life, and it doesn't involve all the browbeating that I think sometimes can come in the environmental space. Sometimes it can be a frustrating space because of all the inaction over the years. So, at Biofriendly Planet, we try to take out the emotions of that past inaction and approach people as if they have never really heard that there was a problem before, and get them to a place where they can be willing to tackle this problem with us. And that's the whole reason that we created Biofriendly Planet. We wanted to be that opening intro with a few more laughs, a little more gentleness, and more kindness so that you can feel ready to help us tackle this huge problem little by little.
Tell us about yourself
My background is actually in entertainment, although I've always cared for the environment being an Aussie. We care about the environment; it's kind of built into our culture. We went and accidentally killed a lot of important species on our island, and we realized we have to watch what we're doing and be better about this. So there became an environmental revolution in Australia before anywhere else because we were the test case as to how everything could go wrong. So from childhood, I've always been interested in the environment.
Biofriendly as a company was founded by my family because I come from a long line of environmentalists. My involvement came a little bit later when it was time for my uncle and some other family members to retire. I was working in the entertainment industry, and my friends and I were making a bunch of different web series that we sold to Machinima, which was Warner's digital gaming arm at the time. We had experienced some real success, things were going quite well as we had just finished making a movie, and right around that time, my brother and my family asked me if I would come into Biofriendly and work with them. It was timed just right after the movie was over, and now I've been at Biofriendly for four years.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We have a couple of success stories that I am very proud of, but I think the nicest one is from a bus company in Singapore. There was a school bus company in Singapore, and they were using older buses that were pumping diesel fumes into the cabin of the bus, so kids were literally coughing and struggling to breathe as they dealt with this problem. They all hated it but were also sort of used to it and figured it was one of those things you just had to live with.
Then, this bus company found our product online and contacted us. We connected with them, got in touch, and chatted about their problems, what they were doing and how we could fix them. And so we actually sent them a whole big round of a Green Plus for all of their fleet free of charge to really give them a chance to try it out and see what it would do. The great news is that the diesel exhaust went down so much that the kids noticed a huge difference. They weren't coughing anymore, and they told their parents, and the parents started celebrating and asking, 'hey, what is this stuff?'. It was so great and a great feeling to literally be able to help children breathe on their school bus!
Since then, we expanded the reach of Green Plus to include thousands of fueling stations in Latin America thanks to our United Nations Eco-Label as the world's first energy transition fuel additive. We have also expanded our business to include environmental education with Biofriendly Planet, and we will be rolling out a whole new range of products to tackle some of the world's biggest environmental problems over the next few years.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Our business is a very interesting one because, to some degree, our biggest challenge is the status quo, and I think that's a battle that a lot of environmentalists have. In a lot of ways, our competitors aren't going to be somebody else doing the same thing as us. Our competition is that it's a lot easier to keep doing the same thing even if it's worse for the planet. At the end of the day, for a lot of companies, it's cheaper and easier to do nothing.
The problem is that a person does not want to fix something that they don't perceive as broken, right? Companies are run by people, so they certainly follow that as well. I think our biggest challenge is educating the people who are using fuel, or certainly the companies that are selling the fuel, to the point where they see the necessity of cleaning it and making it better.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Take things one step at a time - I feel like when you get engaged in big projects, and most things these days related to the environment seem to be fairly big projects, you wake up in the morning, and the laundry list of things to do seems impossible. But I kind of look at it as if I got just to do one thing, and then the next thing, and then the next thing, and the next thing. If I find that first thing, the whole project becomes less intimidating, and I can handle it. I developed this habit during my time in entertainment because we had crazy projects that we got in the middle of that I don't think ever would have been finished if we didn't just take it one thing at a time.
- Nothing is impossible - I think that I've been so lucky in the careers that I've been involved in; I say this because all the projects that I have worked on have all been pretty intimidating and pretty huge. And the thing that I've learned in all that time is that really; you can actually do almost anything. If you put your mind to it, if you believe in yourself, and if you put together the right team, you can just go one step at a time.
- Integrity is everything - I'm proud to work for a company that's entire mission is dedicated to helping clean our air, and I truly believe that when you do good, the rest will come.
Where can people find you and your business?
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