Project Repat creates fair wage employment by upcycling your t-shirts into cool accessories.
Today's featured startup, Project Repat, turns your excess t-shirts into more functional and fashionable clothing accessories while creating fair wage employment opportunities in the U.S.
Project Repat works with colleges to turn their excess t-shirts into bags to give out at reunions and we also help brands use the upcycling of t-shirts to create a stronger emotional connection with their consumers. In addition, customers can upcycle their own t-shirts into bags, circle scarves, ties, blankets and underwear. Read our interview with co-founder, Nathan Rothstein.
What inspired you to start your company?
Ross Lohr spent a lot of time doing development work in Africa and one day he was in a traffic jam because a man had fallen off a rickshaw. It turned out the guy was wearing a t-shirt that said, "I danced my ass of at Josh's Bar Mitzvah 1997." It turns out that a lot of the t-shirts that get donated in the US end up getting dumped in the developing world. Earlier this year, Ross and I teamed up to figure out a way to turn all of the excess t-shirts into fair wage jobs in the US.
Tell us something unique about you and your co-founder(s)?
Nathan Rothstein (pictured on the left in an upycled tie) spent four years in New Orleans doing different recovery related work and Ross Lohr (on the right in an upcycled tie) started a non-profit that helped provide educational resources to students in Tanzania when he was 21. Ross and Nathan met in business school at Brandeis (which they both didn't finish).
What problem does your product or service solve?
There are so many t-shirts in the world that people don't wear, but don't necessarily want to give away. We can turn those t-shirt memories into a more functional and fashionable product. Not only can we re-patriot textile jobs to the US by upcycling t-shirts, we can also prevent t-shirts from getting dumped in the developing world.
What are your startup's three biggest challenges to growth?
Once we get to a decision maker, we have a really unique product that adds value to the world, so it is just about finding that right person.
How has Startup America helped you overcome these challenges to growth?
The LinkedIN premium account helps us make a lot of those connections. We usually ask our mentors and friends if we can "shop" their contacts on LinkedIN to find a person that would be helpful for their business, so having access to that service is great! It is also really helpful to get updates about all of the different entrepreneurship events that are happening around the country.
What Startup America Member Benefits have you used?
LinkedIn premium account, the twitter updates are usually really helpful and give information that is useful and would be hard to otherwise find.
Why should startups join Startup America?
It is really helpful to not have to troll the internet constantly seeking out resources for entrepreneurs. The information that The information Startup America provides through social media and the e-newsletters is extremely useful and a big time saver!
What is the startup culture like in your City/State?
We are splitting are time right now in Boston and San Francisco, which gives us access to a really strong mentor network. There is a lot of energy in both places, which is awesome! We were accepted into HUB Ventures- which is a social business accelerator in San Francisco, and have learned a lot from being in the program. We sell to colleges, so it is also helpful to be in Boston where there are so many schools in the area.
Check out co-founder Ross Lohr's TEDx talk.