Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Michael Sands, Co-Founder and CEO of Smile Compostable Solutions, located in Darien, CT, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

My business is Smile Compostable Solutions, a Delaware Public Benefit “B” Corporation whose mission is to make the most environmentally friendly coffee packaging and food ware items, including compostable coffee pods, bags, straws, lids, and utensils. Our customers are corporations and consumers looking to limit their plastic and carbon output.

Tell us about yourself

Co-Founder Frankie Schuster and I launched Smile Compostable Solutions due to our shared interest in sustainability and the belief that you can enjoy great-tasting coffee and everyday convenience without harming the environment. We were frustrated with Keurig K-Cups, knowing that millions of people were throwing away single-use plastic every day. I am motivated by the fact that Smile is reducing plastic waste going into landfills with our compostable packaging innovations. The impact of our scalable solution keeps me motivated.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Smile’s coffee pods compatible with Keurig brewers won the first-ever U.S. Plastics Pact Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award. This was a huge milestone for the company and demonstrated to major corporations that our sustainable solution is provided with ease – all they have to do is make the switch. Our home compostable coffee pods compatible with Nespresso Original brewers are currently a finalist for the 2023 U.S. Plastics Pact award!

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The main obstacle I have had to overcome is building awareness of Smile’s solutions. There is only so much time in the day. As a start-up business owner, I am tasked with managing a myriad of priorities on a daily basis.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

First – you must have intestinal fortitude. What I mean by this is that there will be people telling you no, but you have to have the guts to withstand the negativity. Second – you must believe in what you’re doing. This is the “why” that pushes me to do what I do. Third – build a great team. Energy is contagious, and you want to surround yourself with people who will push you to be your best.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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