CleanTechies Podcast

#137 Scaling a Logistics Heavy Business, Bootstrapping, The Rigatoni List, The Recommerce OG, & More w/ John Fazzolari (Revivn)

December 01, 2023 Silas Mähner (CT Headhunter) & Somil Aggarwal (CT PM & Investor) Season 1 Episode 137
CleanTechies Podcast
#137 Scaling a Logistics Heavy Business, Bootstrapping, The Rigatoni List, The Recommerce OG, & More w/ John Fazzolari (Revivn)
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

🌎 In this episode, Silas Mahner (@silasmahner) speaks with John Fazzolari (@fazz), the co-CEO and co-founder of Revivn, a hardware lifecycle management company that helps corporates repurpose their used electronic devices.

John has a fascinating story of building this company and despite us only recording for about 30 min, we covered a lot of ground. From why they bootstrapped the company, to his Rigatoni list for hiring purposes, to using operational complexity as a moat, to ensuring your 3rd party contractors care as much as you do about customer success, it's a great episode.

Let us know your favorite part by reaching out.

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**2:20 Intro to John
**3:00 Why the un-used hardware space
**4:05 Creating the Category 
**6:05 The Story of How They Built
**7:35 How they work
**9:10 Cost Savings 
**12:20 Logistics - Their Moat is Complex Coordination
**14:45 How to scale logistics company business 
**16:10 How to control customer quality experience 
**18:45 Examples of their impact
**22:00 Why they bootstrapped 
**23:55 Advice on Fundraising 
**27:10 Advice on Hiring | The Rigatoni List 
**30:00 How to understand if someone has potential 
**31:58 Advice to Young Entrepreneurs in Climate
**34:38 Other Ideas 

**Connect with John
**Check out our Sponsor, NextWave Partners:
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**HMU on Twitter: @silasmahner

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Silas Mähner (27:44.074)

Interesting. Now, I appreciate that. That's a pretty good insight, I think. Thanks for that. In terms of, I guess we're kind of coming up on time here, in terms of advice to other climate founders, people who want to make an impact in the space, what would your general advice be to them as they're kind of determining what to do and just getting started?

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (28:04.818)

Yeah, so I love unsexy ideas. I love things around waste. If I wasn't doing Reviving and I was in climate, I'd probably be working around another type of waste stream. And I think about it as, how can you use software? I think that's important. Software is a big part of every business, maybe not right in the beginning, but over time. How can you do it globally? Can you do this anywhere in the world? How big is that market for it? And then also, I think it's just like every company.

Don't give up, you have to keep going. You have to have inspiration, perspective, and positive affirmation. And I think as a company, whether, you know, especially in climate where it could take longer to build a lot of these things, and it's a bigger problem, which is also really exciting to solve. In the beginning, it's impossible, then it becomes unlikely, but then success becomes inevitable. And if you can go along that path and just keep going forward, I think that you make a little bit of your own luck and things happen. I think...

reflecting back seven years into reviving, we were down to 10 people during COVID with product managers in our facility, cleaning stickers off laptops to keep the company alive. So you don't know what's gonna happen. You're dodging grenades along the way. It's really, really hard. But if you believe in yourself and you can just keep going, I think really good things happen. I think there's so many problems to be solved in climate. The other thing I would say is that not to take any...

single piece of advice from an investor or somebody else too seriously. I call it like an end to the one thing where I ask like 50 people for their opinions and I kind of formulate that into my own thought. And if I had listened to what everybody had told us about Revive and early on, we definitely wouldn't be here talking today.

Silas Mähner (29:45.622)

I think that's a really important thing. I need to write this down, but I think that's a really important aspect because I see this with graduates that I talk to. A lot of them, they want to work in climate and they have no measurement as to which company to work for because they're like, oh, they're doing great things. They must be good, right? They're in climate, so we'll go work for them. But when you speak to 30 or 40 of them, you get an idea like, hey, there's only a couple of these that are probably going to work, right? So I think that general...

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (30:11.531)

Yeah, exactly.

Silas Mähner (30:15.738)

creating your own thought. I think you said creating your own thought after you speak to many people, right? That is really valuable for many people, for job seekers as well as builders. So I think that that's a good one. I guess, I don't know if I asked you this to prepper this, but do you have any specific ideas that you would go, like things that you think could be built in climate today, other ideas to build startups in the space right now?

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (30:38.002)

Yeah, so to be honest, it's hard for me because when I look at other companies and ideas, I just pay much more attention to the people than the idea. And I think it's just because of the way Reviving was formed. So for example, I don't even feel like I'm qualified to speak on a lot of these other climate ideas. I just have been obsessed and know so much about what we do and our waste stream that I haven't really explored outside of it.

I think just because of the demands of what I have to do on a day-to-day basis and just my general interest in it. But overall, there's just so many problems that need to be solved around this space. And again, I just love the waste part of it. I think of garbage as a very interesting thing in terms of it. And I know at one point, me and my co-founder were looking at things and we're like, how does garbage actually work? Like all types of garbage. And I know recently I was somewhere and I heard a founder speak about

waste from porta potties, I think it was. And I thought that was really fascinating and interesting as like a very unsexy, dirty problem that nobody wants to touch. And I believe those things are usually tremendous opportunities that can have tremendous outcomes. So those are things I'm biased towards that I encourage founders to get involved in versus the doing something similar to what already exists. There's a lot of companies that, and again, a lot of them are doing good work, but.

Silas Mähner (31:52.686)


John Fazzolari (Revivn) (32:04.118)

or putting out things like dashboards around climate statistics and stuff like that. I think that everybody needs to have that on top of what is the problem you're solving. No, versus just statistics.

Silas Mähner (32:15.11)

I think that's quite interesting. This is something I was thinking about. I'm reading through the Elon Musk book and then I also just saw the product announcement from Humane. I don't know if you saw that. That went pretty viral. But basically, these types of innovations where you don't just make an improvement to something that exists, but you kind of change things substantially at the base level, they don't happen that often. And I think we should be thinking about it right now because it's not just about making a better widget.

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (32:26.187)

No, I haven't.

Silas Mähner (32:43.906)

with climate, it's how can we really fundamentally kind of change our society and how we consume things and how we use them. And I do think the waste one is interesting because if you go from this mentality of just, hey, I want to have my first experience, like my user experience, my opening experience, be great, but I don't care about the end product, that's not very good, right? We can take into account a lot of these things. So...

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (33:07.25)

Exactly. And totally. Even in just like New York City, I look at like garbage and recycling and like most people, the stuff gets mixed up. It's not even separated properly. And solving that type of problem is really, really hard. I mean, I don't know how to do that. But like, it just starts with somebody saying like, hey, how am I going to tackle this at small scale and then kind of growing from there. But imagine just like in Brooklyn, Brooklyn's a huge area, if just Brooklyn was doing that correctly. And I feel like when you look at other cities globally.

A lot of people are ahead of a place like New York on this. And there's things that can be learned around it. And when I think about Revive, and one of the things we thought about is like, you know, when you have a garbage bin, it's like usually black paper, recycling's maybe green. And when we talk about electronics, we're like, it's orange. But that never even existed prior to Revive. So again, I don't know what that next waste stream is or what that is. But I just know there's so many opportunities around these problems for the people that want to get their hands dirty and solve them.

Silas Mähner (34:06.754)

Yeah, I do think about the fact that it's extremely... It's not necessarily... We have the idea of what these things can be used for because these waste products are essentially inputs to some production process somewhere, but it's a matter of getting them separated properly, right? And how can you change human behavior? Yeah, that's very difficult. You can do it with incentives, but the incentives need to be relatively high.

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (34:25.922)

Consumer behavior, yeah, which is really hard.

Silas Mähner (34:33.63)

in order for people to be interested in it, right? If they're not already intrinsically motivated. So I think it will be interesting to see how this develops. Because I really believe that, I don't know, I just think it's the most exciting time to be alive. Obviously, there's the climate challenge is a big one, but to see that everybody's looking through this lens of how can we be extremely efficient with everything, I just find it really fascinating. It goes back to growing up, working for my dad in his cabinet job. He tried to make sure that he would measure out and...

to design his cabinets in a way that there was literally sawdust as leftovers. There wasn't pieces of wood, it was just sawdust, I mean, to the point where he was very good at it. And I just think that we could kind of take that mentality to everything in the world. So this has been awesome to have you on, man. I appreciate this. Any final thoughts on where people can reach you?

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (35:14.892)


John Fazzolari (Revivn) (35:20.33)

No, I mean, I think the biggest thing is I was just really excited to be here, talk about the story. Anybody that's interested in reviving, I'm always happy to talk with people. And again, I just love people and paying it forward. Founders, people that are looking to get into tech and startups. I think a lot of people that are just want to work in climate. You can reach out to me, email me, Twitter, whatever. I'm always happy to help.

Silas Mähner (35:41.102)

Awesome, thanks so much, man. I appreciate you coming on.

John Fazzolari (Revivn) (35:44.058)

All right, great talking. Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Intro to John
Why the un-used hardware space
Creating the Category
The Story of How They Built
How They Work
Cost Savings
Logistics - Their Moat is Complex Coordination
How to scale logistics company business
How to control customer quality experience
Examples of their impact
Why they bootstrapped
Advice on Fundraising
Advice on Hiring | The Rigatoni List
How to understand if someone has potential
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs in Climate
Other Ideas