The Download: Justin Senkbeil, CEO & Co-Founder, CompostNow

Justin Senkbeil is CEO and Co-Founder of Raleigh-based CompostNow Inc., a company that offers subscription services and products for composting. Since 2012, Justin has championed CompostNow’s mission of empowering community members to divert their compostables from the landfill and, instead, use those nutrients to build fertile soil. Justin is a dedicated social and environmental entrepreneur who is passionate about building and uplifting organizations and entrepreneurs in his community. In 2022, Justin was listed in the MO100 among the Top 100 Impact CEOs in the world demonstrating exceptional growth and commitment to positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

  1. What is in your pockets?

I have a phone and I have five cards; credit cards, insurance card, and license. I continue to try to go with just my phone, but there’s still several places where you cannot pay with your phone.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

CompostNow collects food scraps from individual households and businesses such as universities and school systems. We turn that into compost for community gardens and urban farms, and a lot goes back to our members as well. We have a fleet business with warehouses and facilities and we drive around picking things up, dropping things off. We’re 10 years old now. We started in Raleigh and now operate out of six facilities in four states with a little over 50 vehicles and 100 staff.

One thing that’s very exciting is we’ve made it through a pandemic. The last couple years have been especially hard. We operated through the pandemic while much of our customer base, universities and offices closed down. So, we were facing massive loss of customer revenue during that period, while also looking at how do we maintain an operation and keep our employees safe and paid and taken care of. So happy to report that our first goal has been achieved, and that was to make it through the pandemic. We actually saw some growth last year and we’ve seen growth this year.  We’re rebuilding momentum and feeling optimistic and more in control of our future again.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

My go-to coffee spot has been the Optimist in Raleigh. They’re also one of our recent members to sign up for composting. I like to bounce between the different groups and support the businesses that are using our services.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

I think still of being a company that’s growing that has taken investment, has a burn. I think it’s hard to feel settled when you are not currently profitable. As much as it’s planned, and we’re following our plan, we’re achieving our goals. We have the budgeted burn. We’re deploying the capital. It’s still nerve-wracking for me, and always has been.

It was only around four years ago that we switched from being a cashflow-based business, growing ourselves, to taking investment and growing the company a lot faster by making those investments. So that’s still something that I have not gotten used to being in a position where you’re burning (cash) every month.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

Stanbury is my go-to anytime they’re open. Come as you are. Great food, great service, relaxed. I like to say you can show up in your pool shorts or in your tuxedo, and it doesn’t feel like anyone cares. You get the same service. Same great food. Awesome place.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

We have a big vision around how individuals and businesses deal with food waste and compostable products. We’re constantly working to build more scalability into our business, refine how we’re going to market, how we’re expanding both in terms of our sales and marketing around that as well, the financing of the business. So, lots to continue to learn, continue to apply.

We’re still pre-series A and our future, very soon, will be finding the right partner to make the investments to take us to the next level. We have officially become a middle-market company and see a lot of opportunities further within our supply chain, as well as in other markets. The future is doing more of what we’ve been doing and investing more into our process for growth and expansion.

About Brooks Malone 106 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.