Noel Carroll, the CEO of Biofriendly, tells us how the company finds and implements green solutions to save our planet.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you joined Biofriendly.
Noel Carroll: My background is actually in entertainment, although I’ve always cared for the environment being an Aussie. We care about the environment. It’s kind of built into our culture. We accidentally killed many important species on our island and realized we have to watch what we’re doing and be better about this. So there became an environmental revolution in Australia before anywhere else because we were the test case for how everything could go wrong. So from childhood, I’ve always been interested in the environment.
My family founded Biofriendly as a company because I come from a long line of environmentalists. My involvement came a little later when it was time for my uncle and other family members to retire. I was working in the entertainment industry, and my friends and I were making a bunch of different web series that we sold to Warner Brothers. We had experienced some success, things were going quite well as we had just finished making a movie, and right around that time, my brother and my family asked me if I would come into Biofriendly and work with them. It was timed just right after the movie was over, and now I’ve been at Biofriendly for four years.
Do you have any small habits that make a meaningful impact on your life purpose?
Noel Carroll: For me, taking things one step at a time is the big thing. And that’s kind of where most of my habits are built around. Because I feel like when you get engaged in big projects, and most things these days related to the environment seem to be fairly big projects, you wake up in the morning, and the laundry list of things to do seems impossible. But I look at it as if I just got to do one thing, the next thing, and then the next thing and the next thing. If I find that first thing, the whole project becomes less intimidating, and I can handle it. I developed this habit during my time in entertainment because we had crazy projects that we got in the middle of that I don’t think would have been finished if we didn’t just take it one thing at a time.
How does Biofriendly market your brands specifically online?
Noel Carroll: One of the things that we got involved in when I took over the company was an initiative we call Biofriendly Planet, which is a website and a network-based around giving environmental information.
The overall concept is that it gives you ideas that are very easy to implement into your own life and doesn’t involve all the browbeating that I think sometimes can come in the environmental space. Sometimes it can be frustrating because of all the inaction over the years. So at Biofriendly Planet, we try to take out the emotions of that past inaction and approach people as if they have never really heard that there was a problem before and get them to a place where they can be willing to tackle this problem with us. And that’s the whole reason that we created Biofriendly Planet. We wanted to be that opening intro with a few more laughs, a little more gentleness, and more kindness so that you can feel ready to help us tackle this huge problem little by little.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Noel Carroll: We’re focused on media because of our entertainment background, but you really need to have a good team. And I know that may not be the answer you’re looking for because it isn’t a particular software tool or something. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to have the right people. You have to have people who know what they’re doing and who have the same passion and goals that you do. And when you find those people, and then you empower them with what they need to get the job done, you’ll be able to manage and achieve all of your goals.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain employees?
Noel Carroll: Well, I think for us, the process is designed to be a little more open. For example, we don’t put in a limiter for college degrees, and for a lot of positions, we don’t even put in experience limiters. Our goal is to talk to as many people as possible because we believe that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, what your experience is, if you are the kind of person who cares about what we care about, and who is willing to put in the effort, work hard, and do the job, then we want you. So our big effort in hiring is to find people with the right attitude and goals because everything else can be taught. So that’s really our focus.
In terms of getting people excited and keeping them, I think that the battle that has gone on over the last 100 years between unions and employers has jaded employers into thinking that you have to be mean and that you have to be unwilling to give anything or do anything at all costs to help your employees. And we’ve tried to, again, kind of similarly with Biofriendly, take away the history and say, you know, if you want good employees, you’ve got to treat them well and give them as much as you possibly can. So we work very hard to have a really good benefits package. We work very hard to give people ownership in the company so they can take the same advantage as the stockholders have in the company. And then we try to be generous with things like vacation time, sick time, and whatever else we can be generous with.
How are you funding your growth?
Noel Carroll: Well, we’re kind of lucky in this regard. So back when my uncle started the company, they actually had to go out and get investors. He founded the company in 1997, well before it decided to care about the environment. When it came time for me to take over the company, the first goal was to expand the business, which we did. We actually scaled up since I took over in terms of our revenues.
We now take that revenue and reinvest it in other projects that benefit our company and the planet. As we advance, our focus with this company is to try to develop the next technology that will make a difference and help our planet. So that’s where we put the money from the revenue we earn from Green Plus®, our emissions-reducing energy transition fuel additive.
Who are your competitors?
Noel Carroll: Well, you know, it’s an interesting business because, to some degree, our competitor is the status quo, and I think that’s a battle that many environmentalists have. In many ways, our competitors aren’t companies doing the same thing as us, but our competition is that it’s a lot easier to keep doing the same thing even if it’s worse for the planet. At the end of the day, it’s cheaper and easier for many companies to do nothing.
And generally, I found that humans like to do as little as possible, right? And companies certainly follow that as well, so I think our biggest competitor is changing the minds of the people who are using fuel or certainly the companies that are selling the fuel to the point where they would be agreeable to cleaning it and making it better.
How do you plan to stay in the game?
Noel Carroll: Look, just as with anything else, you can’t stay in the game if you’re not ahead of the game. You’ve got to plan for what’s coming before other people are looking at that. And one great thing about having Biofriendly Planet as part of our business is that it allows us to always look ahead at the next problem and solution.
We’re trying to find out what’s wrong, what’s happening next, and what aren’t we looking at. One of the problems that climate change presents is that it’s a great excuse for people to point to as the cause for everything. Yes, we absolutely have to do something about climate change, but that does not address every single existing problem. So part of staying ahead of the game and relevant is knowing what’s next. And then actively planning for it and creating solutions for these problems.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Noel Carroll: We’ve got lots, but I think the nicest one is from a bus company in Singapore.
There was a school bus company in Singapore, and they were using older buses, and the buses were pumping diesel fumes into the cabin of the bus, so kids were literally coughing and struggling to breathe as they dealt with this problem. They all hated it but were also sort of used to it and figured it was one of those things you just had to live with.
Then this bus company found our product online and contacted us. We connected with them, got in touch, and chatted about their problems, what they were doing and how we could fix them. And so we actually sent them a whole big round of a Green Plus® for all of their fleet free of charge to give them a chance to try it out and see what it would do.
The great news is that the diesel exhaust went down so much that the kids noticed a huge difference, they weren’t coughing anymore, and they told their parents, and the parents started celebrating and asking and saying, ‘hey, what is this stuff?’. It was so great and a great feeling to literally be able to help children breathe on their school bus!
Your final thoughts?
Noel Carroll: I’ve been so lucky in the careers I’ve been involved in. I say this because all the projects I have worked on have been pretty intimidating and huge. And the thing that I’ve learned in all that time is that really, and you can actually do almost anything. If you put your mind to it, believe in yourself, and put together the right team, you can go one step at a time.