Business / Lessons By Leaders / Start-Ups

Circonomy – Turning A Dream Into Reality

July 11, 2023 , 6 minutes
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In June I hosted our fourth DrinkedIn event at Sea Legs Brewery Co in Kangaroo Point. It was another great networking occasion with businesspeople and fractional CMOs from all walks of life who got to hear from two guest speakers, learnt more about the brewery from head brewer {insert name}, got complimentary headshots from photographer {insert name} and of course, wetted our whistles on some fine lagers, ales and stouts.

One of our guest speakers was Yas Grigaliunas, Founder and Chief Evangelist of Circonomy. If you’re unaware, Circonomy was established as a way to make circularity (reuse, repurpose, repair and resource recover) the new normal, while creating opportunities for people of all abilities. They bring together leading retailers, resource recovery partners, resale channels and everyday Australians, to give new life to still useful things.

I managed to pull Yas aside for a sneaky schooner and ask her more about the success of Circonomy.

Simon Dell:

Yas, tell us what motivated you to get Circonomy off the ground.

Circonomy, a word I conjured up back in 2018 when we were a startup called “World’s Biggest Garage Sale,” holds within it the essence of our community-driven vision. In those early years, the humble garage sale initiative was born out of a desire to make a charitable difference without asking for monetary donations. The motivation for creating something that could raise funds was Cancer, which has touched my family profoundly, with my Mum, Nan, and four Great Aunties all facing their own battles with Breast Cancer. As a triathlete, I was no stranger to pushing boundaries and embracing the unknown, so embarking on this journey was exciting, enduring and enterprising.


How did you identify the circular economy of things as a way to raise money?

Circonomy has always been the dream—a people-powered project that has now evolved into a thriving national circular economy success story. A decade ago, I set out with an audacious vision to bring people together and create change. Instead of asking for money, we simply asked for dormant goods, which could be repurposed for the greater good and then sold on.

Ten years ago, the term “Circular Economy” was met with confusion and raised eyebrows. “Circular what?” was a common response during pitch events and conversations with startup mentors, managers and masterminds. Few grasped the concept that would later revolutionize industries and ignite a global movement towards sustainability. We were pioneers, fully aware of the challenges that lay ahead, but steadfast in our belief in the transformative potential of circularity to heal our planet and empower our communities.

From modest beginnings, with limited financial resources, we underwent a radical transformation, emerging as a renowned ‘reCommerce’ retailer. We fearlessly challenged the status quo, championing change and embodying the spirit of innovation while carefully conserving our resources.

Today, I am filled with immense joy as I reflect on the journey of Circonomy, built by an incredible community of passionate individuals. With deepest humility, I share our story, which intertwines the power of people and the principles of the Circular Economy, shaping a sustainable future for all.


An incredible journey! What are some of the marketing and business methods you undertook to build Circonomy to where it is today?


Allow me to share a few of the practical and purpose-driven methods we employed to maximise momentum with machine-like precision, all while preserving cash and capital to the extreme.

“Love is the next disruptor in business.” This heartfelt statement, spoken at the Coralus Summit in 2018, encapsulated our core philosophy. Customer intimacy and genuine relationships have been the driving force behind Circonomy’s growth from day one. When financial resources are scarce, but passion abounds, the greatest value lies in staying true to our values. Consistency and authenticity breathe life into customer intimacy, making it the heartbeat of our business.

GSD – Get Stuff Done! Early in my journey as a founder, I learned the startup version of this acronym: Get Sh!t Done. It became a common refrain, reminding me of the importance of execution (something that ignites and excites me). We often find ourselves getting caught up in perfecting processes or obsessing over performance metrics, but true progress comes from ACTION. When a community comes together to GSD, their collective power becomes truly potent, and their purpose acquires a deep sense of meaning. GSD for the SDGs is the evolved version of this mindset, projected onto platforms that pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Agility + Stability = Capability. Years ago, I formulated this equation to capture the power of people coming together with shared values. When agility—the ability to adapt quickly—meets stability—the strength, precision, and trusted nature of established organisations—our collective capability multiplies exponentially. We move fast, pivot when needed, and exhibit a seemingly chaotic yet ferociously flexible exterior. Simultaneously, we draw upon the stable foundations of established industry stalwarts, who bring their process-driven power and measured approach to every endeavor. Together, with a sprinkle of both agility and stability, we create a potent force for change and innovation, propelling us forward into a better tomorrow.


What is your outlook for Circonomy and the broader uptake of circular economy initiatives?


Circonomy stands as a testament to the boundless potential of harnessing the power of people for sustainable transformation. We have witnessed the emergence of a national circular economy movement, driven by passionate individuals and united in our quest for a more sustainable future. I hope to continue this journey, infusing every endeavor with love, relentless execution, and the balance of agility and stability. Together, we are more empowered to change, innovate, and shape a world that thrives on the harmony of humanity and the environment.

I truly believe this is a movement – so by more people joining us, we can create a powerful legacy of sustainability and leave a lasting imprint on the tapestry of our world. Together, we can harness the power of people and usher in a new era of sustainable transformation.


Any last words to motivate our readers out there?

Let us be the generation that harnesses the collective power within each and every one of us, igniting a flame of passion and possibility that will illuminate the path to a future where sustainability reigns supreme. Together, we hold the key to unlocking a world where the harmony of people and planet drives the winds of change. Now is the time to embrace our power, to unite as a force for good, and to propel sustainable transformation forward, leaving a legacy that will echo through the ages. The future is ours to shape, and with the power of people, we shall transcend boundaries, defy expectations, and create a world that flourishes in the radiance of sustainability.