The Story Thus Far
By Larry LaMotte, Founder and CEO
ReCapturit® came from within me, a dissatisfaction; I was dissatisfied with where I was in my work life. I
had worked since I was 8 years old. I had built my own house. I had started five startups, been part of a
number of others, worked at countless jobs, and never previously put in the effort (after I learned how)
to dive deep within me and find what I was truly meant to do – until that point of dissatisfaction, blessed
with timing and coupled with the ability to now do what was needed to make that long-desired personal
I was 56 years old and had not yet reached the midpoint of my goaled life span, 120 years. I had plenty
of time. I had plenty of energy. My long-term business was steady, but without vitality. It could go away.
The other business I had joined 27 months prior had not turned out to be what I hoped, and I had done
what I said I would do with it, so parting was without much sorrow. It was time. As to industry timing, it
appeared to me that the industry I would be considering was ripe for getting stirred up. There was
abundant activity on both supply and demand ends, but no comprehensive connection and no fix in
view. Frankly, it was a mess.
On the personal side, it was time – high time - that I do what I was meant to do, rather than simply see a
problem and build a fix, or, see an opportunity and jump on board. No, there was more to it this time;
there needed to be more. It had to come from within: find the inner beast and set it upon the world to
discover its prey.
On the business idea side, there was definitely a market and yet the demand side could not find the
supply. Forces were marshalled in governments and organizations, even laws were passed.
Groundswells of activities popped up across the country trying in piecemeal fashion to move a giant
needle, but that needle would not budge. Entrenched industries with supply chains and codes and
methods and more all chugged along while the hand-wringing on the other side kept on, too.
It was time for a macro-scale solution.
As a founder, it is helpful, even essential, to be able to be in the trenches and know intimately the
details of what you are creating, while you also need to be able to soar up to 30,000 feet and see the big
picture; the trends and context of the thing you are building. Moreover, I felt in this case that a
satellite’s view was in order, to see the entire nation, and how it fit in the world context with regard to
what I was looking to do. In fact, if this didn’t have global implications and impact potential, then I didn’t
want to do it. It had to scare me. I call that the "Sphincter Pucker Factor” (say that fast…).
This had it.
I was going to build a marketplace for the salvaged building materials industry to amplify and multiply
the flow of those materials back into new construction.
For numerous reasons of their own, people asked me for career advice. Soon, and to my surprise, they
sent others, often from high positions in big companies, and from across the country. I decided that if I
was to offer advice for such important matters, I better know that what I was telling them was solid
advice. Turned out, it was. I took classes, conferred with leaders in that industry from all the colleges in
the area, and my alma mater. I read. I asked for guidance and feedback from professionals. I developed
a process and a program which I used many times and with marvelous results. So, when the time came
for me to seek a new career, I put myself through my own program, and vowed to be my own best
That program is a distillation process. You find and put in an immense amount of information, then
channel that into the exercises, and eventually create an intoxicating distillate of your passions, your
strengths, activities that the world will pay you handsomely for, and things that will also do good for the
world. The Japanese have a word for this: ikigai – your purpose.
I had found mine.
Yet, now I had to find something to apply it to, and that, in itself, was a process. I came up with five
scenarios and researched each one extensively, ruling out four as one made itself more and more
prominent. It was a tear-jerking moment. Really.
That one idea became ReCapturit®.
ReCapturit® would become THE central source for recaptured building materials for everyone. It will be
a marketplace in the best sense of the tradition: you can wander and ponder, find experts and
inspiration, and ultimately, source what you need from suppliers all over the country with modern
convenience and efficiency.
I knew I would need help; lots of help. I started mentioning my idea at networking meetings. I built a list
of 400 people and told them all briefly what I was imagining and would they someday like to play a part.
Seventy people said they would. I communicated with all of those people personally and from those, ten
individuals joined me and we formed the loose group of our startup team. I knew that Pareto and his
law (the 80-20 rule) would be easy to see in action with ten people. Pareto’s Law said that of the ten,
two would be doing the lion’s share of the work, two would disappear, and six in the middle would do
varying amounts, from mere attendance to actual work. The results could not have been more precise.
Sadly, numbers one and three left; one for a significant health reason, the other for having inherited a
business from his wife’s father which led to a move to New Jersey. The number two and four slots were
helpful, but I could not find enough for them to do in the early stages. Number two is still with me,
number four found something else.
Additionally, I knew that this company would not be a traditional, pyramidal company with lots of
employees and everything done in-house; quite the opposite. I would out-source nearly everything,
while creating key positions to be core to what we do. We would do what we do best, others would do
what they do best for us, and we would create an ecosystem of trusted partnerships. I had done this
before, so it was familiar.
From Birth to Crawl:
I formed a company, made a logo, got the trademark process started for my first name choice,
Salvitecture. That one died in the trademark queue. I bemoaned that for fifteen seconds then began to
discover a new name. I came up with five, cut that to three, and sent those out to ten people to tell me
which one they preferred. All but one chose ReCapturit®, so it was back to the USPTO with that.
I use a design process quite naturally. My Architecture background served well to begin to piece
together a comprehensive solution to a complicated set of problems across a mostly unconnected
industry. I began to build the machine. After many conversations with the supply side players, I
determined that salvage stores were to be integral to the beginning of ReCapturit®, as Sellers on the
marketplace. They had the goods and were already selling them. Plus, many if not most had dabbled
with the idea of selling online, and all who tried had done poorly at best. They had problems.
Problems to be solved are an entrepreneur’s delight!
Their stores were not set up to inventory, bar code, track and sell electronically. In fact, many used
masking tape and a Sharpie® as their inventory technology. Granted, there were a few with inventory
systems, some had Point-Of-Sale systems and most could accept credit card transactions. Yet, the
physical layout of their stores was not set up for gathering and inputting the information that search
engines crave. I put together a templated merchandise intake layout, and on the other end, a shipping
preparation process and place.
Next, we dealt with the thorniest issue they faced: shipping. Pareto’s first began the interviews with the
salvage stores, and then began to research and interview shipping companies. We learned a lot. She left
due to serious health reasons and moved to southern California. I took up the task. From there, I began
to look not so much at the shipping companies, rather at technologies that would enable our Sellers to
ship, but more essentially to our marketplace, afford our Buyers the ability to see and select shipping
options instantly for the myriad and multitudinous unique products we would be selling; none of which
was new, branded, described, named, or in any way ready for ecommerce. Happily, after months of
searching and interviewing, several excellent options emerged. Now, we are partnered with these, and
through API technologies, these companies’ services are available at our shopping cart for Buyers to
select what they need, see on a map where it may come from, and choose their shipper and shipping
method. As Texan billionaire and former presidential candidate H. Ross Perot liked to say: "Problem
Websites: if these salvage stores had websites, they appeared to be vintage 2000 or before. A small
percentage sold a few products on Craig’s List, albeit not well displayed nor described, and no one had
the ability to actually sell online. No, you must travel to the store to secure your purchase.
Finding a way to build a monster marketplace was a project in itself. I talked with local development
shops. They all assured me they were building marketplaces, or that they could, but none had anything
to show in the way of examples. Moreover, none could begin to peg a price on one. And, all would have
to start from scratch. Not an ideal scenario. I chose rather to seek a company that specialized in
marketplace technology and creation. They were to be found but were not in abundance. I spoke with
representatives all over the world: France, Finland, India, Argentina, even Austin, Texas. I chose a
company in India who showed examples of their work, gave references and working sites, as well as an
online mockup in which you could act as a Buyer, Seller, Admin, even as an Affiliate. Their pricing was
stated clearly, both for their tiered offerings, and their hourly pricing for custom work, and for owning
the code or not. Plus, they had manuals of instruction for how to use their marketplaces.
So, I would have to deal with language differences and a twelve-and-a-half-hour time difference. We
came to terms and I purchased their modest off-the-rack model so that I could dig into it far from others
and learn how to use such a website. I did. I went through all six manuals and set up many profiles and
products, learning along the way the well-thought-out features, and their limitations. Next was to design
the features and modifications specific to our untapped market and marketers. After months of back
and forth we settled on what was to be our MVP. I told a friend that building an MVP may mean building
a limited-feature edition of what we *really* want, but that does not mean we build crap. No, we build a
first-round working version, replete with the minimum features, plus perhaps a pleasant surprise.
That website is in progress now.
I hope you'll join me there, as we continue to write the story together.