Alex Reed, Co-Founder and CMO of Truman's
Green/Sustainable Business Finalist
To better highlight the impressive members of the small business community, we sat down with the 2019 Dream Big Award finalists to learn more about their startup stories, the challenges they have faced, and what the future of business looks like to them. We chatted with Alex Reed, co-founder and CMO of Lexington, Kentucky-based Truman's, the company behind a range of cleaning solutions that are harsh on germs – not the planet. Here is what Alex had to say (what follows has been lightly edited for length and clarity):
Q: What inspired the creation of your business? What problem does it help to solve?
Truman's was founded because nobody needs a gazillion cleaning products with harsh chemicals cluttering their cabinets. Truman's offers just four cleaners with refill cartridges — all non-toxic — that safely and effectively clean virtually all of your home's hard surfaces. Because you add water at home, you use the same bottle over and over again, eliminating the plastic empties common in the cleaning industry. Our cleaners feature an auto-dispensing mechanism that mixes the concentrate automatically, ensuring no mess. Because we sell direct, the bottles do not require labels, a purposeful design to encourage them to be placed on counters where you need them, not hidden away in cabinets. That's Truman's – cleaning glass and taking names.
Q: What gets you up in the morning?
Beyond coffee, it’s our belief that changing a staid industry takes tremendous time and effort. We’ve been growing 30% monthly since launching our lineup of cleaners this past February. While that’s inspiring to see, our impact is still relatively small and that keeps us motivated. We’re in a gigantic industry and have a long way to go to truly change the ingrained habits of both big cleaning companies and consumers who are used to the status quo.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you faced while building your company and how did you overcome it?
We're working to change the long-standing habit of buying ready-to-use cleaning products, and that type of shift in behavior across an entire population takes great effort. Ease-of-use, price, availability, performance and customer experience — all these things must be right for the impact to be felt.
Q: At what moment did your business become a reality to you?
Truman’s became a reality to us when the first order came through from a name we didn’t recognize. It was such a rewarding moment, and the excitement has continued to build so much since as it’s now almost a rarity to see names of friends and family given that our customer base has grown so dramatically in such a short time. We also really appreciated that Fast Company honored our efforts as part of its World Changing Ideas awards contest. It was validation that our work presents an easy opportunity for everyday consumers to use less plastic and reduce their carbon footprint.
Q: What impact do you hope your business has on society as it grows?
If just 5% of people choose Truman’s, we can save up to four billion pounds of water from being shipped and 300 million pounds of plastic. Really though, we hope to inspire big cleaning companies to join us in expanding the availability of concentrates. Long popular in Europe, concentrates have made few inroads in the United States because of the mess and hassle of mixing fluids. With auto-dispensing methods like we have developed, concentrate systems are now easy to use. It really makes no sense to ship a solution that is 98% water from factories to distribution centers to retailers and ultimately to homes. It’s a major environmental drain and one that can easily change if industry leaders step up and end the status quo.
To learn more about the 2019 Dream Big Award finalists, click here.