Our founder and CEO, Patrick Triato, sat down with Authority Magazine to discuss entrepreneurship and social impact in the Goodwell universe. Read more below and find the original interview over at Authority Magazine.
Social Impact Heroes: Why and How Patrick Triato of Goodwell Co. Is Helping To Change Our World
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Igrew up as the middle child (older sister, younger brother) in a very blue-collar family in a little town just outside of Cleveland, Ohio called Garfield Heights. My dad had 2 jobs to support the family, he was a police officer and an electrician. My mom got a job as a secretary at St. Monica school in part to get a discount on 3 tuitions to put us all in private school, K-8th grade. The best memories of my childhood were the days my friends and I would spend riding our bikes in the “dumps” — Garfield Heights has a huge landfill, and my house was maybe 4 blocks away from it, and the jumps and ramps that the machinery carved out made for pretty epic bike riding. Skateboarding and music was also a huge part of my early adulthood, skateboarding wasn’t really a cool thing yet, so I identified with a small group of people who were into things like skateboarding, vegetarianism, punk rock and art. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, and the first person in my immediate family to move out of Ohio. Maybe all that time spent by a landfill subconsciously fuels my ambition to clean up the way we design and consume things?
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is making a difference for our planet. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Simply put, the mission of Goodwell Co. is to be the household name in sustainable oral care. When I started looking for a new place to put my drive for problem solving and design, I was shocked at the statistics I found around land and water pollution contributed by oral care products. The toothbrush caught my attention immediately, because unlike a bottle or other container commonly used in personal care, the toothbrush is a tool, and the tool was getting thrown out every 3 months. This was the trigger point that ultimately contributed to my decision of designing a better toothbrush.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I spent the first decade of my career as an industrial designer working for companies and developing products, before I came to the existential dilemma that I was part of the problem. So in 2013, I started looking for a new way to use my knowledge and skills to incorporate a holistic approach to design and product development, and that’s what led me to create Goodwell Co.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. As soon as I could push a lawn mower, I started hustling and that first summer I ended up cutting enough lawns to buy a new bike (for those epic dump jumps). My drive started because I wanted things I didn’t have, but that mentality matured into wanting to do things and make things for a larger purpose than just making money (although I’d like to do that as well!).
Many people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
The best things I’ve done or built in my life have been things that if you told me how long it would take, how hard it would be, and how much money it will end up costing, I would have probably passed on the opportunity. “Expert-itis” in my experience seems to lead to a kind of cultural disease inside and outside of organizations that more often than not, is the silent killer of innovation. I chose toothbrushes because I knew next to nothing about them, and the day that I think I know all there is to know is the day that I go do something else with 90% naivete. The great thing about Goodwell, is that I’m not just learning about oral care, I’m also learning how to run a business, raise money, hire a team, manage expectations, speak in public and the list goes on and on. So, I guess to answer the question, just pick something that interests you for a reason (and ideally a purpose), and set an audaciously large goal and then start to take small steps that may or may not get you there.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Okay, so when the first idea for Be. Brush came to my mind, I thought the first step should be taking it to Kickstarter because it just seemed like a product that people were going to either love or totally ignore. Having a background in product development I knew that a product like this would take a lot of time and a lot of money to develop, so Kickstarter seemed like a great litmus test to quickly vet the idea and potentially fund it too. About two weeks into the Kickstarter is when one of the most interesting things happened. On the very same day, 2 multinational conglomerates sent inbound emails directly to me with interest in the technology we developed and wanting to set up meetings to check out the product and learn more. At this point, I had been developing products for about 15 years, and receiving this much acknowledgement and interest from such large corporations was flattering, but also a huge indicator of the impact of what we had just built. It was a turning point for how I started thinking about this company and its overall mission and potential scale.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
I don’t know if I have a good story about one funny mistake I made, as the mistakes I’ve made for better or worse, are usually pretty serious and impactful. I can tell you that inventory and purchasing has always been somewhat of a mistake magnet for me, personally. But, you learn and grow and remember what not to do again, moving forward.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
We’ve got a great and tight knit investor and advisor group that has been extremely helpful in the hard times over the past couple of years. Before starting Goodwell, raising money felt like something you do on Shark Tank and then have to give up 40% of your company for a couple hundred thousand dollars but, we learned the reality is much more founder friendly than that if you have the right product, the right traction, and a good motivated team.
Are there three things the community, society, or politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Evaluate your lifestyle choices. Start to make changes in your community on a local, state and even national level. Encourage and support others to follow. We can all make a difference, starting by making small changes to our daily routines. If everyone chose to do 1–2 things a week to lessen their carbon footprint and practice more eco-friendly habits, together we would make a huge impact to strengthen and protect our communities and our future.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Yeah, I mean there are examples everywhere of how you can be more sustainable and create more profit at the same time. As a trained industrial designer, this is at the core of what we do as a career. Taking waste and inefficiencies out of products and the process is the essence of what it means to be a good industrial designer.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
It’s a little cliche but it doesn’t make it less true, the fact is that everything is connected and we’re still discovering just how wide and deep those connections are. We don’t really know the absolute extent of the long-term effects of what we’ve done and what we’re doing, but it’s pretty safe to say that we need more people committed and involved around saving and reviving the natural environment. We absolutely need to focus more effort on the oceans. I think because it’s out of sight (for most people) and literally underwater, there needs to be much more education and awareness about the constant threats to the health and protection of our oceans.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” It’s a quote from Einstein and it brings me joy because most of my ideas tend to be pretty “out there” with regard to conventionality.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
Well, in case the people I know and know me really well read this, I have to start off by saying I don’t really partake in breakfast or lunch for that matter — I basically snack a little through the day and then enjoy a well-deserved supper. I started doing this back in 2004 when I was putting myself through university, and initially found that my focus and ideas were much clearer when I wasn’t thinking about food and my body wasn’t busy digesting food. Since it would be about a decade before Keto or any of that was even a thing, I guess I’ve been in a constant state of ketosis for almost two decades now. That being said, I’d love to hang out with Elon Musk because I have some ideas around how we might try to change the climate.