In this episode of Restarting America, Jeremy Greenberg from 97 Switch interviews David M. M. Taffet, the co-founder and CEO of Petal, and Christie Zwahlen, co-founder and Executive VP for Social Impact of Petal. Throughout the interview, they discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on business and society. Taffet and Zwahlen share how the current health pandemic has affected Petal—their company that generates zero-odor, germ-freezing waste bins—and how they are adapting to new circumstances.
Taffet has excelled in countless roles: parallel entrepreneur, venture capitalist, investment banker, fund manager, turnaround specialist, mentor, and street photographer. Three descriptive words flow through them all: intrepid, immersed, and inspired. His career has spanned law, investment banking, private equity, not-for-profits, turnarounds, buy-outs, management, and startups, including his newest venture as Petal’s CEO.
Taffet has 30-plus years of experience building companies, leading successful teams, raising capital (almost half a billion dollars in total), and developing cross-sector partnerships for commercial and public gain. Along the way, he has had the good fortune of, among other things, working his way through college and law school, building his own businesses, meeting the payroll needs of 100s of employees, raising enormous amounts of debt and equity on behalf of his own ventures and on behalf of others, evaluating the merits of others’ ventures, turning others’ enterprises around, and working internationally in varied industries with geographically-dispersed operations.
Taffet and his wife, Zwahlen, and their two dogs (Honor and Phoenix) recently made the journey to Fort Worth, Texas, to establish a new home and the headquarters for Petal.
Zwahlen is Petal’s heart and soul. She is a civic activist and recognized community engagement practitioner with more than a decade of experience spearheading institutional change across academia, the public, and private sectors. Her authentic commitment to doing the right thing has put her on the frontlines of many public challenges including responsible e-waste recycling, providing community access to technology, creating pathways to science, technology, engineering, arts, and math education (STEAM), and inspiring young people to exercise their agency and become more civically active in their communities.
As Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Zwahlen is driving Petal’s efforts to establish it as a certified B Corporation and force for good with a commitment to sustainability, responsible sourcing, and a true balance between profit and purpose. Prior to Petal, she served as the Director of Community Engagement and Service at Miami University of Ohio, where she raised more than $1 million dollars in leading a significant expansion of the school’s civic and community engagement portfolio.