Kansas City startup PlanetReuse has been selected as one of 12 recipients of a $250,000 grant from the Chase and LivingSocial program Mission: Small Business. The company, which we last covered in June, was chosen from a pool of close to 70,000 applicants from across the U.S.
During the application process, owners of businesses that had been operating for at least two years with less than 100 employees were required to answer questions about why their business was unique, outline a plan for how the grant money would be used and describe how the business is involved with its community. The contest also included a social media aspect in which each company had to receive 250 likes on the contest’s Facebook micro page, said PlanetReuse partner and chief strategy officer Willow Lundgren.
“There were a lot of people in the Midwest, Kansas City and St Louis areas who applied,” Lundgren (far left) said.
PlanetReuse founder Nathan Benjamin (near left) said the startup will use the money to build awareness of the reuse industry, as well as to promote the company’s most recent endeavor, PlanetReuse Marketplace, which soft launched July 5 and already has one reuse center on board.
PlanetReuse Marketplace is the first project powered by InvenQuery. Also founded by Benjamin, InvenQuery allows retailers of unique items, like art or sports memorabilia, to manage inventory online.
“We have our first (reuse) store beta testing the entire system, using it continuously in their operations,” Benjamin said. “We’re bringing on our second store later in September.”
Benjamin said the PlanetReuse Marketplace is a website where anyone can browse reuse centers’ inventory. That differentiates it from the common approach to browsing inventory at most reuse centers, which more closely resembles garage sale shopping.
“People can browse online just like they shop for new materials before they make a trip to their local reuse center,” Benjamin said.
The company was also recently invited to participate in the SXSW Eco Startup Showcase, a one-day venture capital pitch competition that will be held on Oct. 4 and exhibit a host of green tech companies.
“This just continues the amazing momentum we’ve been getting over the summer,” Lundgren said.
Credits: Photo Benjamin and Lundgren from marketplace.planetreuse.com.