Each month, Capitol Post interviews a veteran-owned business to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly on creating a sustainable and scalable business. This month, we spoke with Andrew Castrodale, BLDC Spring ’16 Cohort Member, and Founder of Nautilus Aggregates, a startup focused on reinventing concrete to enable sustainable, affordable infrastructure.
Name: Andrew Castrodale
Where did you grow up? Concord, NC
School(s): Concord High School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Military Branch & Specialty: US Navy Submarine Officer (LT/O3)
Favorite DC-Area Restaurant: Il Porto in Old Town
Favorite Local Activity: Running the monuments on the National Mall
Go-To Pump Up Music: Dance the Night Away by Van Halen… Close second to the opening scene of the movie Patton with George C. Scott
Strongest-Aligned Archetype: Explorer or Hero – tough call
Tell Us About Your Family: Wife Page and two boys, Jack (4) and Lincoln (2). Page owns a business in Old town called Curated and Jack and Lincoln like to chase things.
Little Known Fact About You: I’d like to run for office one day.
Brief Business Description: Nautilus Aggregates will manufacture lightweight aggregate for concrete using a new process that will be more energy efficient and versatile than the existing process. The new process will allow waste product from quarries and mines to be used as the raw material.
Briefly tell us how you decided to become an entrepreneur: I can’t get this idea out of my head. It will make the world a better place – why would I not?
What is something you learned during your service? How does it benefit your organization today? Knowledge. Know your men and know your equipment. If you don’t, you might be likable and well-intentioned, but society and your employees will not benefit from that alone.
Who has influenced you the most in your career or organization and why? The CO of my ship, USS Springfield, when I was on board. He taught me the value of knowledge, described above, but also that very often the answer to the question is “it depends.” Too often we, especially in the nuclear navy, believe that there is a right and wrong answer in every situation. He saw the gray between the black and white and taught me to do the same.
What have you accomplished that you’re most proud of? Success within the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. I was a non-technical major with a 2.9 GPA who had been laid off a year prior to my interview with ADM Donald for admission into the program. I was a fool to think he would even consider me, but somehow I convinced him to take a chance on me.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to another startup or entrepreneur? I’m not afraid to fail – I’m not afraid to try. Embrace failure as an indicator of your willingness take a risk and the increased likelihood that you’ll succeed next time.
Where would you like to see your organization in ten years?
Lightweight aggregate becomes nearly cost-competitive with normal weight aggregate changing the entire industry ($23B in 2015 in the US alone).
Housing worldwide, especially in poverty-stricken regions, is less expensive, safer, and more durable.
Greenhouse gas emissions reduced
Transportation infrastructure is improved and its cost reduced, reducing cost for government and the burden on the taxpayer
Every employee of the company understands the benefit to society that he provides through the company’s operations.