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Turning Waste into Green Energy
On Earth Day in 2013, Jendell Duffner launched Green Scoop, the first business in the United States to turn pet waste into electricity and natural gas, with the help of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Columbus-based micro lender Economic Community Development Institute. By offering to clean people’s yards and providing a green way to dispose of pet waste, Duffner capitalized on an increasingly hot topic: clean energy.
“I’ve always been environmentally aware and tried to recycle and reuse items,” she said. “This business is a reflection of my passion and serves as a role model to other businesses to be smart with the Earth’s limited resources.”
After collecting pet waste through her bucket service and yard cleaning services, Duffner takes the waste to a third-party waste processing plant. There, the methane gas from the waste is turned into natural gas and electricity. The remaining solid matter is turned into a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Before starting her alternative energy business, Duffner sought advice from both SCORE, an SBA resource partner that provides mentoring to small business owners, and ECDI counselors.
“Through the resources, knowledgeable staff and affordable classes, I was really able to plan out my business,” Duffner said. “Writing your plan down helps you put your business idea into perspective.”
Duffner was careful in her preparations to begin her business. She made sure to have a strong support system and took advantage of the resources available to her to get her business off the ground. Along with using ECDI and SCORE, she also became a member of the Women’s Business Center, taking advantage of access to conference rooms, computers and printing services.
“I think a lot of people get excited about their idea, but they need to slow down and think about what resources they need to make that business successful,” she said. “I didn’t enter into my business full-time until I knew that I could pay myself the same as the job I was leaving and still run the business.”
Although Duffner will admit that running the business hasn’t always been easy, she has also met a number of successes. Through her participation in ECDI’s Individual Development Account, a match savings grant program, Duffner saved $500 over six months and ECDI matched with an additional $1,000. She was also the Women’s Business Center’s 2015 Member Business of the Year and received a Green Spotlight Award in 2015 from the City of Columbus.
“Use all of the resources that you have available to you,” she said. “And in the future, think about reusing those resources as well.”