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It's Hip to Upcycle

Thom Ruhe One of the genuinely rewarding parts of my job is working with entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. Recently I had a chance to meet Andrew Sell, the founder and “Chief Hipcycler” of Hipcycle, an e-commerce site that sells upcycled furniture, housewares, and other items. Andrew first hit our radar when he won a competition hosted by our Startup America Partnership, winning a trip to the Kentucky Derby.

The first question I had was . . . what is upcycling? In short, it's the process of taking materials that would otherwise go to the landfill and repurposing them into new products. According to Andrew, the upcycling industry is small, but growing quickly. With his site, which isn’t a marketplace like or since everything on it is sold directly by Hipcycle, Andrew hopes to bring together the best products from a diverse and scattered industry.

It’s exciting to come across cool new startups, but this one especially got my attention because of the impact it can have on the environment. Issues related to our planet have always been a passion of mine (I’m on the board of directors of Fabien Cousteau’s Plant A Fish foundation) and when an enterprise seeks to grow its business while also helping to improve our environment, I give it a second look.

Yes, Hipcycle sells stuff (I have particularly enjoyed my bench made of wood from a demolished house and a cutting board upcycled from used wine barrels . . . another ‘hobby’ of mine), but they are not only about e-commerce. They have an educational blog, which covers upcycling issues and tackles upcycling DIY projects. They also have an active social media community. And they even try to have a little fun.

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