February 4th, 2010
In 2002, Marty Metro ditched corporate America to sell used moving boxes. Customers flooded his eco-friendly Los Angeles store, and Metro rushed to open three more locations, hopeful he’d soon be franchising the business throughout the country.
Only thing was, Metro couldn’t figure out how to turn a profit.
“The sales weren’t the problem,” he explains. “It was the operational costs. We couldn’t get the boxes, inventory them, store them and sell them in a way that actually made money.”
Three years later, Metro’s green business was still in the red and he was forced to shutter it. Saddled with $300,000 of personal debt, he found himself selling his office furniture on the sidewalk and back on the market for a day job.
While some would be discouraged, Metro doesn’t consider his failed business a waste of time or money. The lessons learned, skills acquired and contacts made have since served him well. So well, in fact, that he raised enough venture capital to re-launch in 2006 as UsedCardboardBoxes.com–a web-based version of his original business.
Like Metro, you may not walk away from a venture with any cash in pocket. But that doesn’t mean you’ll leave empty-handed.