Garry Cooper, Jr., PhD (Chief Executive Officer/Co-founder)
Dr. Garry Cooper is the CEO/Co-founder of Rheaply, Inc, a Chicago-based resource management and exchange technology to scale the circular economy. Dr. Cooper is also a Scholar at Google for Entrepreneurs and an Adj. Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Department of Physiology. Before Rheaply, Dr. Cooper was a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young, LLP in the Life Science Advisory practice where he worked in performance improvement and supply chain for pharmaceutical clients.
While at Northwestern University, Dr. Cooper received several awards for scientific merit and presentation, was published in high-impacting peer-reviewed international journals, and participated in a drug development effort that led to a US patent. Dr. Cooper graduated from Indiana University completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Chemistry.
Rheaply Asset Exchange Manager
One-line project summary:
Rheaply is reducing GHG emissions by making the world’s used materials & resources more discoverable and transferable through technology.
Present your project.
To rise up and overcome the dangers and challenges of climate change, we must revolutionize the circular economy, where our material outputs become the inputs in new or resilient products. It is our belief that the circular economy cannot become a revolution unless it first becomes a digital revolution. At Rheaply, we have built the technology to optimize and maximize use of and resources by improving material flows within large, resource-intensive organizations. We address sustainable material consumption by using technology to reduce waste within organizations by facilitating the selling, trading, donating or sharing of equipment and material resources that might otherwise go to waste.
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What specific problem are you solving?
By improving the visibility and sharing capacity of existing resources within large enterprise, government and higher education organizations, Rheaply is addressing the technological and accessibility limitations of existing legacy asset management systems, which are built to track resources and not necessarily measure the most economic uses of those resources across business or department units, teams, or offices or nearby facilities/buildings. Organizations use Rheaply to make better purchasing decisions based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of existing assets in inventory so they can better utilize existing resources and advance the long term health and vitality of society, economies, and the planet. GHG emissions linked to material inefficiency (value sent to landfill) makes up 45% of overall GHG emissions. Unlike other GHG mitigation options such as renewable energy, materials management is heavily influenced by businesses and federal/state/local and communities, and thus is best positioned for immediate change through resource optimization, operational resilience, and collaboration.
What is your project?
Rheaply’s Asset Exchange Manager (AxM)™ makes it easy and efficient for organizations in key industry verticals that include technology, government, retail, healthcare, and higher education to track and utilize the assets they already have before making a purchasing decision. The platform allows users to list items they wish to share/sell, claim listed items, request items within and between organizations, and strategically circulate resources by taking into account various economic archetypes including departmental needs and geographical dispersion to locate the most likely restorative and regenerative for a particular resource. Rheaply is unique in its ability to prompt users about items that may be of interest according to their user role/organizational affiliation, directly connecting users in need of items with other internal users who may be able to fulfill that demand within a dedicated messaging center. To further harness value, Rheaply generates reports associated with the number of transactions, total value recaptured, and waste diverted from landfill, giving departments and businesses transparency around the effectiveness of reuse within key business units, as well as waste diversion metrics by category and department.
Who does your project serve, and in what ways is the project impacting their lives?
Rheaply is taking an urban circular economy approach to keeping high-value resources in use for as long as possible, directly impacting the business and diverse surrounding communities in need of those resources. By helping build more resilient organizations through technology, Rheaply creates a more connected network of self-sufficient organizations that can extract the maximum value from their own resources for as long as possible, but also adhere to their civic responsibility to sustainable consumption activities. After a predetermined number of days, Rheaply’s technology enables organizations to alert individuals operating local nonprofits, donation centers, underfunded research centers, incubators, entrepreneurial centers and other “takers” to available resources.
To understand the broader resource needs of the surrounding businesses and community, Rheaply captures critical insights and data upon user onboarding, including resource needs by category & building location, and important user attribution data to improve “matchmaking” as it relates to shared resources. Rheaply enables team creation, customized requests, search and discoverability, resource tagging, and real-time messaging to improve the traceability and effective monitoring of resources no longer wanted or nearing the end of their life, helping organizations make connections by closely related categorical interests.
Which dimension of The Elevate Prize does your project most closely address?Elevating understanding of and between people through changing people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors
Explain how your project relates to The Elevate Prize and your selected dimension.
How did you come up with your project?
Rheaply’s beginnings trace back to when I was working towards my PhD in neuroscience at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and contributing to the ongoing Parkinson’s disease drug discovery efforts. During my time at Feinberg, I discovered silos within the university when it came to sharing physical assets, at a time when governmental budget cuts for research were at an all-time high. Some departments had a surplus of materials and would discard the excess assets that were perfectly appropriate for reuse. Other departments were using outdated spreadsheets and incomplete listservs to source needed materials from peers, but due to a lack of asset location and quantity knowledge, they purchased new ones instead. This observation sparked my idea for Rheaply, the name of which is a combination of the words “research” and “cheaply”. The platform began as a resource for higher education/research institutions. It was about a year later that I realized this problem existed in many other industries and was tied to supply chain inefficiencies within a linear economy, and that a climate positive solution linked to a trillion dollar economic movement was already underway (the circular economy).
Why are you passionate about your project?
Circular projects today are focused on improving material efficiency and building more resilient & environmentally-friendly products to address waste issues (for example, using principles of biomimicry to create biodegradable products). While these solutions present us with important sustainable alternatives to our unsustainable consumption habits, there remains a significant hurdle to address operational inefficiencies that exist within organizations - particularly procurement departments in dire need of modern approaches and strategies for tracking and managing existing assets in inventory, whether that’s R&D resources, salvage building components, electrical parts and components, furniture, etc. We turn our natural resources into an extraordinary and unnecessary number of products. It’s estimated that, moving forward, it would take 4 Earths to sustain our present level of material extraction and consumption.
At Rheaply, we are particularly passionate about improving resource exchange and solving the challenge of scaling reuse through technology. We believe the modernization of resource management through technology can be a catalyst for socio-economic change and further our vision for building social enterprises within the cities in which we work. On Rheaply, we connect dissimilar industries and companies to each others byproducts - building more resiliency in the system and more economic opportunities in nearby developing communities.
Why are you well-positioned to deliver this project?
As a scientist and a scholar, I am uniquely qualified to continue to grow Rheaply into solving the problems associated with our circular economic solution. Much of our growth can be attributed to observing a problem, designing a solution, being conscious of bias and continually testing our platform under different scenarios. Under this defined approach, we have been able to run a lean team that uses both capital and time efficiently when helping our partner organizations.
Provide an example of your ability to overcome adversity.
Rheaply first began as an idea between friends who started a company to solve a major issue of waste in academia. In the early stages of building Rheaply, we were attempting to source seed funding all while working on building the platform and maintaining full time jobs. In order to get our first round of funding, we needed a client who was willing to test Rheaply. To our excitement, my alma mater, Northwestern University was willing to support a pilot test of our technology within the labs in which I conducted my post-doctoral research.
Long story short, we received the first round of funding, we quit our jobs and when we sat down for the first day with our new client, we were informed that Northwestern needed to punt our engagement to a later date due to contracting delays. This was a moment of great uncertainty that I took to heart and forced me to step up as a CEO on day one managing investors' concerns, leading more client focused conversations as well as strengthening my resolve that there needed to be a better software solution for managing assets.
Describe a past experience that demonstrates your leadership ability.
Even with a rigorous schedule as a CEO, I continue to offer my time as a mentor to young talent and as a consultant to minority owned businesses. I would like to think that it is because of my involvement in my Chicago community that the Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team approached me with regards to helping the cities’ small business community during this Covid-19 crisis. In response, I led our team in creating a marketplace that allowed small businesses to source protective resources from local suppliers. This created a local supply chain that not only delivered resources efficiently but also supported incomes across our community.
How long have you been working on your project?
Rheaply has been operating for four years.
Where are you headquartered?Chicago, IL, USA
What type of organization is your project?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
What is your business model?
Rheaply follows a service as a software business model charging an implementation fee, monthly subscription and transaction fees.
We allow organizations to immediately manage and redeploy value across an employee base, departmental silos or connected networks.
Rheaply allows an organization to immediately achieve sustainability goals, create a financially viable reuse community and impact local communities.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Rheaply is a for-profit company and will continue to drive growth through sales and investment capital. By closing late stage deals, Rheaply looks to be profitable by Q2 of 2021
Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?
Part of the challenge in the startup sales process is getting the first meeting with a large organization with hopefully the right champion who will understand the mission. We know that the Elevate Prize will continue to validate the work of Rheaply’s team and introduce us to passionate people.
- Dr. Garry Cooper CEO, Rheaply