Compost Queen a model of perseverance

She is the Compost Queen and she’s slayed a few dragons.

Lisa von Sturmer is a spitting image of young entrepreneurship in Canada and she’s sending a message to others: If you have a good idea, go with it, and find the help you need to get started.

Von Sturmer currently runs a growing start-up company, Growing City, which primarily picks up compost at corporate offices. It’s currently expanding to deal with recyclables and is now starting to service condominium units in dense urban areas of Metro Vancouver.

Growing City started in 2010 after von Sturmer left her job as an editor. It took about a year to really get going; she worked at a nightclub while still putting in more than a full day at Growing City.

Her talk at TEDxKPU will address avenues that she took to get her company up and running.

“I’ve met a lot of young people who want to become entrepreneurs and I want to share my story to help them,” she said.

Von Sturmer said there are several hurdles to overcome, however, starting a business need not be so overwhelming with an effective game plan.

“A lot of people struggle to start off and move their ideas into actions,” she said.

However, she notes people need to be confident and as long as they can develop a plan, success is bound to follow.

One of the biggest things she advises others to do is find organizations and programs that help entrepreneurs.

“A lot of people don’t recognize the resources that are there available to help them,” she said, noting how the non-profit Futurpreneur Canada helps anyone under the age of 40 obtain a bank loan for their start-up.

“I would say I haphazardly found these organizations,” she said, adding that in her experience banks themselves were rather unaware of such programs.

She also credits Small Business BC for helping her develop a business plan.

Von Sturmer believes private non-profit and government agencies can be better organized to help people, especially young entrepreneurs. But until that happens, word of mouth will have to do.

“It’s like they’re hidden you have to find them,” she said.

Along the way she’s learned neat, new tricks, like online, real-time waste saving stats for her customers.

An opportunistic person and a tireless promoter of herself and her business, von Sturmer was an official delegate for the G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Summit and has won many business awards.

With over 100 clients and growing von Sturmer’s plan of targeting dense urban areas allows her company, which relies on quantity, to be more effective. It doesn’t hurt to cash in on the green craze in the city.

“It’s been an exciting few years for the company, especially with the new Vancouver bylaw that bans organics,” she said.

Her ability to market Growing City spans from an appearance on Dragon’s Den on CBC (she declined their offer) to being a good corporate citizen in helping raise money for breast cancer research.

It didn’t come easy, but the humble von Sturmer believes it’s within anyone to succeed given the right idea.

“I learned a lot by making mistakes for my business. I’d like to share what I learned so others don’t make the same mistakes. And I’d like to inspire more people to take the leap. I’m confident if I can start a business many other people can do it too.”

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Richmond News | Richmond, British Columbia