Under his ownership and the leadership of Stew Lawrence (who joined as CEO in 2016), CleanWell has made a dramatic turnaround. Revenues increased 66% year-over-year between 2016 and 2017, and projections indicate that CleanWell will be profitable in 2018 for the first time in its history. Plus, the company recently formed a strategic partnership with Simplehuman, a luxury housewares supplier.
Resnick spoke with Happi for this month’s Indie Inc. profile.
I was drawn to CleanWell because: I have always had an interest in sustainability and environmental causes. After I graduated from Columbia Business School in 2009, I was looking to shift away from my experience in commercial real estate. The opportunity to invest seemed like a perfect way to jumpstart the next phase of my career.
When I came on board, I didn’t realize: How prevalent harmful and toxic chemicals are in our everyday life.
The smartest decision we have made so far was: Hiring Stew as CEO. I do not have a CPG background, and after a series of missteps, I knew that it was time to bring in someone who has both a deep experience in the space and an entrepreneurial outlook. A related smart decision was to move the company to Colorado and bring on a highly motivated and passionate group of people to help the company grow.
Customers love CleanWell because: They don’t have to expose themselves to potentially dangerous chemicals in order to eliminate germs from their houses and hands.
Joe Cloyes and Greg Gonzalez, founders of Youth To The People, want to know “How many products or new business ideas did you come up with before joining your company?”: When I bought CleanWell, I had no CEO experience, and frankly was not looking to be an entrepreneur. Rather, I was looking to invest in businesses that focused on environmental sustainability and health and wellness. I became an accidental entrepreneur after I purchased the company in 2015.
The hardest part of this business is: Dealing with the rapidly changing retail landscape. Between Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and the domino effect of that transaction, we have seen a massive shift in how retailers buy. The effect is compounded by the increased competition in the natural grocer space. Growing players like Fresh Thyme, Fresh Markets, Spouts and Lucky’s Market, have dramatically changed the landscape as well.
2018 is the year that CleanWell: Will reach profitability. It has been a long road to get to this point. However, we are finally at a key inflection point in our history. This is the year that we can, hopefully, establish ourselves as a leading brand in the space.