Interview With Matthew Mead
Describe your product or service:
We manufacture and distribute biobased building materials derived from industrial hemp. Our flagship product is HempWool, a batt insulation product suited for residential and commercial construction projects.
Describe your company culture:
Empowered to be progressively sustainable.
Describe your company values in one sentence:
We provide better materials to build a better world.
What are you ultimately hoping to achieve with your business?
Create a new normal for building materials and how they are evaluated.
How are you funded?
Bootstrapped. Currently raising seed round via Reg CF.
How big is your team?
Tell us about your team:
My cofounder and I went to highschool together. He graduated from Princeton and found a career in institutional banking unfulfilling. We joined together to bring my background of architecture and sustainability together with his background in finance and startups.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I have always been an entrepreneur. When I was in high school I started a t- shirt company that supported me financially through college. It's in my DNA, I guess!
How did you come up with your startup idea?
In college I studied architecture and environmental sciences. I was amazed to find out that 40% of our carbon footprint originates in the built environment. I wanted to change that.
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
It's a synthesis of Hemp + Architecture.
What is something that makes your company unique?
We have been leading the natural building movement in the US.
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
Hemp was illegal when I started the business. We imported hemp building materials to build some of our first projects. It was a huge barrier but we crossed the barrier.
Is this your first business? If not, how did your experiences with past businesses influence your decision to start this new business?
No, I had a small startup that I abandoned to create Hempitecture. I also worked for a short period of time with a non profit organization in college as a member of their board of directors.
Who is your product or service made for?
Residential and commercial construction.
What's your marketing strategy?
To make building materials like insulation sexy, beautiful, and highlight their sustainability benefits.
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
Lots of hard work in growing an industry from nothing.
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
Gross revenue. Number of sales. Social growth.
How has your approach to managing your business changed from when you started to now?
It's been constantly evolving and each year is radically different than the year prior, every time I give myself the chance to reflect.
What’s the #1 resource you rely on for success?
The idea that I am building something bigger than myself.
What is the biggest lesson you learned during your journey?
Failure is necessary. I have failed and been told to give it up, to go a different direction, and persistence through this was required.
Who is your support system?
Family, my business partner, and my girlfriend.
Who or what inspired you to start your business?
A calling to make a change in our built environment to solve the problem of the built environment carbon footprint.
What motivates you?
Benefitting people and the planet.
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success?
I had to increase my ability to organize myself and others.
How do you define success?
Success is difficult to achieve and even when you have it, you don't realize it, so just be grateful for today and be hopeful that tomorrow brings more opportunity.
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
Being named Forbes 30 under 30.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don't give up, unless you really need to give up, then pivot instead. Keep the fire alive!
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