Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Scott Kennedy, Co-Founder & Director of Revive Eco

Scott Kennedy is the Co-Founder & Director of Revive Eco, a company redefining waste and inspiring a sustainable future.

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To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m a co-founder of Revive Eco, based in Glasgow, Scotland. We are developing processes to extract high value, sustainable ingredients from used coffee grounds to be used in cosmetics and food and drink products. Our ingredients are also sustainable alternatives to the likes of palm oil, enabling us to create a truly positive impact in the world. 

We founded Revive in 2015, the week after graduating from the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University. We had created the initial concept for Revive in around 2012 as part of an entrepreneurship class when we had to come up with a business concept that was environmentally motivated. 

I was also working at the SEC and the Hydro in Glasgow at that point, which plays host to some of the biggest gigs and conferences in the UK. With large amounts of people in one place, there tends to be large amounts of waste created as a result. Our experiences in this sector led us starting to view used coffee grounds as a resource in the wrong place rather than a waste. 

Prior to founding Revive, I didn’t have a huge amount of career experience, aside from a couple of internships and placements and 6 years of experience in hospitality. Understandably we’ve been on a huge learning curve with Revive, and not having a huge amount of prior experience has maybe hindered us at times, but in many ways I see it as a positive as we have never had pre-set ideas on how things should be done, and we think almost anything is possible. 

What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I know it sounds like a cliché, but the nature of being co-founder of a growing early stage company really does mean no two days are the same. My days tend to be split between working from home or being in our lab with our scientific team. 

On the days I’m working from home my time tends to be split across speaking with the team and fine-tuning plans for the weeks and months ahead. I spend the first half hour of the day going through emails to keep on top of them before getting on with the fun stuff. 

I’ll always go out for a walk at lunch for some fresh air and a stretch of the legs. I’m lucky to live very close to Queens Park which is great for a walk and a change of scenery. Working from home has its obvious perks, but getting a change of scenery is so important and breaks the day up from looking at the same walls morning, noon and night. 

What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’ve always endeavoured to have a solid perspective on what is really important, and what just feels like it should be important. Balance for me is incredibly important and making time to do the things I enjoy is essential to me, be it travelling, beers with friends, going to the gym or playing golf.

It’s as simple as taking aside time to make a nice meal for a weeknight, or taking 10 minutes to enjoy a coffee – I’m a big fan of the idea of Fika. In many ways I see my work/life balance the same way as I see my diet – balance is essential and if you eat and do the same things everyday and don’t make time to explore and do the things you enjoy, well that’s quite frankly a bit boring and probably not that good for you.

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In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

We have been almost exclusively focussing on raising investment over the last year which has made getting into routines incredibly difficult as you need to be reactive during the investment raising process.

A couple of helpful routines that stayed constant were getting to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, and a daily Duolingo class. Hardly groundbreaking, but nonetheless very helpful at creating some form of routine where it was difficult to manage routines in other aspects. 

One change I did make at the end of last year was having a longer break away from work, spending three weeks in Australia and Indonesia. It’s always difficult as a founder to have a decent break from the work that always needs done, and even when I am away usually, it’s so easy to keep an eye on emails etc making it incredibly difficult to truly switch off and come back feeling genuinely refreshed. 

It was really interesting to observe the work life balance in Australia which to be quite frank felt a whole lot better than here. A big part of that, in my opinion, is thanks to the weather and the outdoor living.

Having seen this down the west coast, and hearing stories from friends and family living on the east coast, I feel like the work life balance across the whole country really is great. Maybe it’s just the case that the grass is always greener, but I am very confident that the climate and surroundings can make achieving balance that bit easier.

A couple of simple routines that have been really helpful are all around planning and knowing that if I have an objective written down I’m much more likely to achieve it. On Friday afternoons I’ll make a plan for the following week, including both urgent and non-urgent tasks, ensuring when the next week starts there’s a clear plan to follow. I also try to plan my day’s tasks out as best I can at the start of each day to avoid getting side-tracked by less important things.

Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

One book I take a lot of inspiration from is Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia. One of the key premises of the book is centred on life/work balance, with the title being inspired by the notion that we have no control over external elements e.g. the weather and specifically the conditions of the sea.

When conditions are good for surfing, employees are encouraged to go and take advantage of this. In my case, I’d replace surfing with golfing, and with sunny afternoons being at a premium in Scotland, it really is important to take advantage of these days when they come. Work will always be there to be caught up on, but good weather might not be. 

Most of the podcasts I listen to tend to be about football, comedy and food. I know a lot of founders who listen to the big inspirational, leadership podcasts to try and find the template to make a successful company but that’s never really been for me. 

If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Erik Anders Lang (Golf & Travel Videographer from Adventures in Golf). I’m always intrigued when someone’s work and pleasure are one and the same – in this case travelling and golfing. Does this take some of the fun out of the activity when it’s not being done for work purposes as it feels like work, or is it just the case that it really is the best job in the world? 

Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

For me the most important aspect of balance is making a conscious effort to make plenty of time for the things I love; travelling, exploring cultures, food and drink. Everyone is different, and everyone’s desires and ambitions are different so the key thing is knowing what is important to you and prioritising this as much as possible to achieve a genuine balance. If you’re not making time to do what you love, what are you really working for?

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.