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Meet Camilo Giraldo of TAINR

Today we’d like to introduce you to Camilo Giraldo.

Camilo, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I grew up spending most of my weekends outdoors running around in my family’s farmhouse on the outskirts of Medellin, Colombia. I gained my love for the outdoors making a playground out of these remote places. My family and I migrated to South Florida in the early 2000s, when my father was murdered by the guerillas and fell victim to the violence that was shaking Colombia in the early 2000s. I started my first business right out of high school, fixing iPhones, which paid for most of my education at the University of Florida.

While majoring in Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida, I took an internship in Los Angeles working on a water recovery project and was amazed at the sustainable initiatives the city of Los Angeles was putting in place. After going back to Florida to finish my undergrad, I met Kathy, my then study buddy and now life, adventure, and business partner. We both shared a passion for the outdoors, sustainability, and a desire for pursuing a life path that could incorporate our technical background with our passions.

After graduating, I moved to LA and worked for the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, an innovation campus where I curated a prototyping center aimed at providing tools and technology to hardware entrepreneurs. A couple of years later, Kathy and I decided to found Lotus Elevated, a product development firm focused on creating sustainable products from concept to pre-manufacturing. For the past five years, we’ve developed a wide range of impact-driven products for both startups and fortune 500 companies, but our goal was always to create Lotus’ own portfolio of products. Through our journey with Lotus, we developed close relationships with local LA designers, engineers, and customers that would later flourish into partnerships.

A few years ago, Kathy and I had an unpleasant experience when doing our groceries. We hate plastic waste, especially single-use plastic used for food packaging so we always went out of our way to avoid plastic when we could. One way we did this was by bringing our own jars to the bulk aisle. It was a very inconvenient process, to say the least. We had to find pens, tare our container, remember to write the PLU, and hope the cashier knew how to handle our purchase. One day, when checking out at the same grocery store we always had gone to, the cashier flipped out on us. She started yelling at us for bringing our own containers, yelling very loudly. We tried to explain that we did this all the time and that someone always helped us. She did not listen. She poured the contents of our jars into plastic bags, weighted the contents, put them back in our jars, and then threw away the bags. It was demoralizing. We brought this event up in a conversation with our friend, engineer, and inventor- Philip. Since we were all in the business of creating products, we all quickly drafted a concept for an automated refill dispenser. However, the project was not pursued because we realized that the market was not ready plus we had plenty of work with Lotus at the time.

Fast forward to 2020, the grocery store experienced a wake-up call when online orders soared because of COVID and all bulk sections shut down. This left many people who relied on the bulk section to refuse plastic with no options. Now that we are seeing the light of the tunnel, the grocery industry has transformed and is now on its way to full automation. We are also seeing more awareness around hygiene, user experience, and sustainability. That’s why last year. Kathy, Philip, and I decided to found TAINR, a smart refill ecosystem that makes plastic-free groceries simple because something as important as refusing plastic at the grocery store should be easy. We have always envisioned a future where it’s easy to make more conscious decisions, and now we are on our way to building it. We are currently finishing the prototype and are really excited to pilot our refill kiosk in local LA grocery stores.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It goes in cycles but isn’t that life?

Kathy and I have been working together for almost six years now. Learning how to balance our work and personal relationship is something we continue to evolve and learn from. It’s not easy working with your life partner but it is one of the most rewarding experiences. We share the wins and struggles. We support each other in such a beautiful way and bring out the best in ourselves. I could not think of a better person to start two businesses with 🙂

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
TAINR is bringing the smart plastic-free aisle to the grocery store.

With TAINR, grocers and CPG’s can offer a simplified plastic-free shopping experience for dry foods through our ecosystem of kiosks powered by a digital platform. By eliminating unnecessary packaging waste, brands can build loyalty that matters with eco-conscious shoppers. With TAINR retailers can gain insight into shopper trends helping them provide a personalized and transparent shopping experience across all sales channels. On the backend, TAINR provides real-time inventory data that helps retailers achieve smooth truck-to-shelf operations. Our space-efficient kiosks can be restocked within minutes compared to prepackage and eliminate product losses due to abandonment or transient traffic-related events.

What’s special about TAINR is the contactless and seamless user experience we offer to the shopper. We’ve experienced the difficulties when buying plastic-free firsthand so we are building an easy intuitive self-serve experience. Shoppers are able to order from our app or directly from our kiosk in quantities they understand. They can select whether they want $5 dollars worth of nuts or simply choose to fill their container where they want to. They can check out at the kiosk so no need for making the line. We are also launching our own line of reusable totes that are easy to carry, wash, and refill.

We are currently finishing the buildout of our prototype and will be deploying a pilot at a local grocery store. We would love to get feedback from shoppers, so follow us on social media so you can be the first to try the plastic-free shopping experience at our next pilot location.

What matters most to you?
Mind, body, and heart connection. This connection drives the actions that lead us to connect better with ourselves, others, and our surroundings.

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