Biography of Terracycle Founder
& CEO Tom Szaky
Tom Szaky, 29, is the Founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Inc, one of the world’s foremost leaders in eco-capitalism and upcycling. In 2006, Inc. Magazine named TerraCycle, “The Coolest Little Start-Up in America!” That same year Tom was named the “#1 CEO in America Under 30″. However, the rapid growth and success of TerraCycle is no surprise to those who have known Tom his whole life.
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1982, Tom emigrated with his family as political refugees from Hungary to Holland and eventually to Toronto. At age 14 he started his first business, a Web design company called Flyte Design, which employed three associates and earned its young proprietor a five-figure income, while landing clients as big as Roots clothing company. Flyte Design also earned a number of Canadian national design awards. That earlier entrepreneurial success motivated Tom to engage in the start-up of three small, but successful ‘dot.com’ companies.
Tom came to the United States in 2001 when he matriculated as a Princeton University freshman. In 2002, he took a leave of absence to dedicate himself full-time to starting TerraCycle, which began as a two-man outfit in a dorm room in Princeton. Despite being on the verge of bankruptcy only one year into starting the business, Tom turned down a million dollar grand prize from the Carrot Capital Business Plan because the investors wanted TerraCycle to become less focused on being environmentally responsible.
Even without the investor’s money, TerraCycle had its breakthrough in 2004, selling its little-known fertilizer to The Home Depot and Walmart – two of the world’s biggest retailers. Today, after doubling in size for four straight years, TerraCycle occupies a 20,000 sq. ft. factory in an Urban Enterprise Zone in Trenton, NJ, where it employs over 20 workers in its labor force and is a second chance employer as part of its pledge to being socially beneficial.
TerraCycle works with major companies such as Kraft Foods, Kimberly-Clark, Frito-Lay, Mars, Kashi, Stonyfield Farm, CLIF BAR and Honest Tea to sponsor the collection of post-consumer packaging. With the help of these sponsors, TerraCycle pays schools and non-profits 2 cents for every piece of packaging they collect. TerraCycle upcycles the collected ‘waste’ material into affordable, eco-friendly products. Today over 70,000 organizations have helped collect over 2 billion pre- and post-consumer wrappers.
In April 2009 Tom released his first book, Revolution in a Bottle, published by Portfolio to critical acclaim. The National Geographic Channel also did a 4-part documentary about Tom and TerraCycle called, Garbage Moguls.
In 2011, TerraCycle will run it upcycling fundraisers in 11 countries including Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, the UK, France, Germany and Sweden. Last year TerraCycle was named the #288 fastest growing privately held company in America by Inc. Magazine.
CONTACT: Albe Zakes, 609-393-4252 x3701, Albe@terracycle.net