Monetizing Waste

I did some consulting for a major industrial chemical company 20 years ago and one of the interesting lessons I learned was to use my waste.

Each chemical process they ran generated the desired output and some waste products. But, they thought of that waste as just another chemical compound that could be the input to another process. A big part of the business was designing and selling products that made use of waste that was being produced. For that new product, the waste had negative cost because they would have had to pay money to dispose of it.

Using waste helped me start App-o-Mat. I bought the domain as soon as the AppStore opened in 2008 because I thought it was a cool name. I didn’t do anything with it, but kept paying for it every year.

In 2013, I decided to leave my job and do consulting full-time, and I was hired to write an app using Cordova (PhoneGap). At the time, the online documentation for it was pretty bad, but I had figured it out and made my own template for projects that brought together and configured the most useful plugins I found to make Cordova apps look and act more like native ones.

But, I still thought that Cordova too hard to learn, so I made a YouTube tutorial series showing how to use my template and build a minimal blog reader app. I put it all up on App-o-Mat.

App-o-Mat has been valuable to me in two ways:

  1. It has generated leads for my consulting business
  2. The site itself is written in Django, which kept me sharp in Python and web development during the time I was doing iOS full-time.

But I might not have done it if I didn’t have some waste product I could use to get it started.