Chris Scott and Jeeni Criscenzo met when Chris demonstrated a building system he had designed that would make it possible to construct temporary sleeping cabins in a matter of hours. Together they had tried to convince local decision makers that sleeping cabins could be a valuable part of their efforts to house people. But the visionaries hit a brick wall when building codes and zoning rules were used to block their proposals.
Chris had spent most of his life trying to convince the lumber & building industry that his building system, which routs grooves in boards so they fit together like “grown-up Legos,” could reduce the overall number of trees that need to be harvested by 30%. This could make a significant impact in reducing the CO2 in our atmosphere. Chris has invested over a million dollars into his non-profit, Treecycling, Inc. (Treecycling.com) but like Jeeni’s idea to build sleeping cabins as temporary shelters for homeless folks, his idea hadn’t caught on.
Turning lemons into a bloomin’ lemonade stand
Over lunch, they decided the best way to gain acceptance for a new idea is to create a demand for it. Chris showed Jeeni dozens of items he had constructed with I WOOD, from tables and benches to mini-greenhouses and wine racks that were put together with a few screws. It wasn’t only ingenious, it was downright simple! “Why don’t we sell kits with the wood already routed and cut, so people can just build their own stuff, exactly the way they want it?” Jeeni asked.
Chris lit up! He’d brought the first 5 IKEA stores to North America and he knew that people were not only open to building their own furniture, but the number of IKEA hacks being promoted on the web, proves that people want to be able to personalize their creations. I WOOD kits, made from real wood, would be much easier to assemble and offer limitless customization possibilities.
Building a business that’s good for everyone.
Both serial entrepreneurs, they knew there was a lot of mountain climbing between a good idea and a successful business, but they also knew this was a damn great idea! Chris was experienced in retail and Jeeni’s expertise was in online sales and marketing. Beyond bringing a perfect balance in experience to the effort, they were both determined to build something that was congruent with their shared values and goals. That means climate consciousness is a priority in every decision. In addition, if they want to end homelessness, they needed to make certain that their business model is socially responsible. Conspicuous consumption should never be the reason to purchase their product – instead, they are offering something that makes life better for their customers as well as our planet. Their manufacturing strategy makes it possible for woodcrafters to earn a good living in their trade. And their orders can be produced by the woodcrafter located nearest to the shipping address, to reduce the cost to our planet as well as our business. Find out more about turning your woodcrafting hobby into a business.