Two UNC students are about to make being sustainable easier for Triangle-area restaurants, with the help of a few worms.
Kirstie Moore and Mallory Turner founded the startup Full Circle to leverage the buying power of many small restaurants to secure low prices for compostable containers. The company also provides the service of picking up the compost from the restaurants, and may eventually offer to pick up compost from people’s homes.
The restaurants will pay a membership fee, and then if the residential part of the business comes to fruition, the households will also pay a membership fee. Though, Full Circle would look into getting the households discounts at partnering restaurants as part of their membership benefits.
Moore, a senior in UNC’s Kenan-Flagler undergraduate school of business, and Turner, a PhD student of public health in the department of maternal and child health, seem at first glance like an unlikely pair. But the two have been able to build an “equal partnership” over time, bonding over valuing the environment and social-justice issues.
Says Turner, “Our primary interest in the environmental aspect is that single-use plastics disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities, basically at every stage, from the sourcing of the raw materials for the plastics, to the manufacturing of the plastics, to their disposal—all of that disproportionately pollutes Black and Brown communities. So for us, it’s really a social-justice issue.”
From Class to Compost
The two met in a class called Startup UNC in the fall of 2019. Turner joined the class because she wanted a way to actively impact her community, and she had a few ideas prepared of her own. Moore joined the class as a free agent. She was interested in how business could impact people’s lives and was ready to help with other’s ideas.
After moving past the ideas of cloth diapers and a zero-waste grocery store, the pair landed on their current idea and have been working on it ever since.
The company was a part of Launch Chapel Hill’s Summer 2020 Cohort, where they did a customer-discovery workshop and really built out the specifics of the startup. Moore and Turner talked to local restaurant owners in the Triangle about their sustainability concerns and used the findings to perfect their pitch. They later used that pitch to compete in two pitch competitions, winning a total of $2,000.
As of now, they’re planning on launching a crowdfunding campaign early next year.
Moore plans to continue working on Full Circle full time when she graduates, and Turner plans to give her full attention to the company as well, though the two agree that they will be “hustling” at first.
The duo is also always open to connecting with anyone in the Triangle who is interested in any aspect of the environment or their business, so feel free to reach out to them.
You can also watch their (winning) pitch from last month’s Carolina Challenge Pitch Party: