Addressing Plastic Waste via the RBC Co-Op Entrepreneurship Program
Welcome to my first blog post! This is the first in a series that will document my experience working for a startup via the RBC Co-Op Entrepreneurship Program. This post will give you a brief introduction to myself as well as the company that I’m working for this summer.
I’m so excited to have been given this opportunity with RBC, and am even more excited to drive the growth of Poly over the next few months.
To start off, my name is Carter Barrett, and I am entering into third year as a Commerce student, with a specialization in Management Information Systems and Analytics. With this being my first co-op placement, I recognize that I have an unique opportunity that not many students in my position have; the opportunity to play a key role building and growing a startup.
I was first exposed to the world of entrepreneurship a few weeks after I started my first year of university. Entrepreneurship was always something that intrigued me, but it took until first year to realize that I could be actively practicing entrepreneurship and using it to address issues that are important to me.
Shortly after starting at uOttawa, I joined a social entrepreneurship club called Enactus. Enactus runs a handful of projects and social enterprises that are essentially student-run businesses. Over the last two years, I’ve dedicated countless volunteer hours to running and growing our projects towards the goal of becoming sustainable, profitable businesses. This club not only allowed me to realize my dream of entrepreneurship, but it allowed me to use entrepreneurship to address important social and environmental issues in our world.
One of these businesses is Poly. Poly is a social enterprise that manufactures and sells small-scale plastic recycling systems that allow anyone to create their own business making products out of recycled plastic. Poly gives entrepreneurs and institutions the infrastructure needed to produce recycled products, as well as the tools and supports that are needed to successfully launch and manage a business. Not only does Poly allow entrepreneurs to easily launch their own business, but it diverts plastic waste from landfills at the same time.
Poly has been operating in Enactus for nearly two years now, and over that time I’ve been able to contribute to the development of the business, albeit as a part-time volunteer. Balancing a full-time course load on top of Enactus projects like Poly can take up more time than you’d imagine. Over the last two years, I’ve seen Poly go from a simple idea, to a sustainable, profitable startup. The only thing holding it back right now is a lack of time.
Starting any business can be a very long process, and Poly was no exception to this. It has taken many hours of hard-work and focus to reach where we are today, but we are finally approaching the point that Poly becomes sustainable and fully operational.
Despite the amount of time it has taken for Poly to reach this stage, now that we’re almost there, our growth can easily become exponential. The only thing holding this back is a lack of full-time commitment. That’s where the RBC Entrepreneurship program comes in. This program has given me the opportunity to dedicate my entire summer to operating and growing Poly into the best that it can be, and it has allowed me to do this while making a salary, meaning that my dream of working in entrepreneurship has finally come alive.
As excited as I am to grow Poly over the next few months, I know that it won’t always be easy. That startup world is fast paced and stressful — you never really know what the next day is going to bring. Despite this, I am ready to put my all into this company. I want to see Poly become the successful, responsible, profitable company that I know it can be.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post! Check back in a few weeks for my next post, where I will discuss the biggest challenges that I have faced in my time working on Poly.
Read the next installment of my summer journey here.