Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dinner Plates from....

Entrepreneurship is about finding the pain in the marketplace, and then finding an aspirin to cure that pain. Take a look at this article from Reuters today by Deborah Cohen about an entrepreneur who took something he saw in a different country, and applied that notion to a problem here in the USA. From the article:

(Michael) Dwork found himself marveling at the sight of the makeshift plates local peasant women were hand-crafting from fallen palm leaves, which they pressed in crude ovens along the side of the road.

"They looked absolutely horrible, covered in mold," recalled Dwork. "I totally fell in love with them. There was no design, there was no sanitary production, there were no 50 other things, but at the end of the day, the concept was really cool."

The natural process gave Dwork the idea to start VerTerra Dinnerware, an eco-friendly maker of compostable plates, bowls and serving dishes. Fast-forward to today and VerTerra ( is a growing, Brooklyn, New York-based startup that produces a million pieces of disposable dinnerware in its India factory every month. The company supplies these products to wholesale customers, such as hotels and caterers, as well as food service operators, including those serving meals in the box seats at Cowboys Stadium and the U.S. food tent at the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

In the past year, retail customers have joined the mix. Half of Whole Foods' U.S. stores now carry the plates, which retail at 50-75 cents per piece, and VerTerra has been promised distribution throughout the organic grocery chain's full system by early next year.

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