CYstarters Spotlight Story: Core Living Compost

This story is part of a series featuring each of the fourteen startups in the CYstarters 2021 summer cohort. Each team has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000, along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business.

By Samantha Dilocker, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

Co-founded by recent Iowa State University grad Carissa Moyna & current undergrad Andrew Frank, Core Living Compost empowers apartment dwellers to reduce their waste footprint through indoor composting and food waste pickup. 


Get to know: Carissa Moyna
Age: 23
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Sustainability, concurrent MBA
Passionate about: composting and living a zero-waste lifestyle
Most recently I: went to the Florida Keys


Get to know: Andrew Frank
Age: 19
Education: Junior majoring in Computer Engineering with minors in Music Technology and Energy Systems at Iowa State University
Passionate about: sustainability, music technology, and architecture
Most recently I: started living on my own




Currently working on: Core Living Compost

When did you start working on Core Living Compost?

Carissa: I started working on Core Living Compost in January during my entrepreneurship classes, ENTRE 480 and ENTRE 570X.
Andrew: I joined Carissa in May!
Carissa: Core Living Compost was accelerated after I participated in the College-by-College Pitch-Off.


Have you always seen yourself starting something?Andrew: I never saw myself starting something. I like to be supportive of other’s ventures and joining in where I can.
Carissa: I definitely have seen myself starting something from a young age. Both of my parents own businesses, so entrepreneurship was ingrained in me from a young age. It wasn’t until I led the compost team in college that I knew composting was what I wanted to pursue, but now after college, I’m sure composting is it for me.


Why composting?
Carissa: Composting itself is completing the cycle of food. It turns something that is seen as waste into a valuable addition to soil and food production. I see a need to make composting accessible and mainstream here in Iowa compared to many places in the nation where it is more common. People want to be sustainable, but they may not have the resources to get started. We want to connect people to composting.
Andrew: Composting is a big deal because it tackles several problems at once because it reduces waste and greenhouse gases. It also creates a useful product for agriculture, so they don’t have to go to other producers for soil amendments that already exist.


How have you grown since you started?
Carissa: The idea has pivoted multiple times. For me personally, I feel more legitimized. I feel more and more like an entrepreneur as I’ve gotten out into the community and gained customers instead of just having this idea in my head during college.
Andrew: We pivoted our idea recently from having both a home composter called Bini and a compost service to just the compost service here in Ames. We pivoted because we’ve seen more computerized home-composting products, which is not what we had in mind for us, at least not currently. This would require more automation of the bin than we were planning for.
Carissa: The composting service seemed much more feasible.


What future milestones would you like to hit?
Carissa: We are going to launch our service the week of June 1st! We are looking to implement a partnership with a local business that carries sustainable products to deliver to customers when we visit them. We are aiming to have 50 customers by the end of CYstarters.


What is the biggest challenge you face each day?
Carissa: Time! For me personally, I have a type-a personality and try to accomplish too much in one day. I want to bring more balance to my everyday life so I don’t get overwhelmed with the things I want to accomplish each day.
Andrew: It’s really challenging to sort through all our ideas. It doesn’t all come out at once, so it’s hard to narrow down on one thing when we have so many ideas. Not a bad problem to have!


How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you?
Carissa: Entrepreneurship at Iowa State has allowed me to start this business and feel confident in my abilities, but also to fail and understand that’s a part of an entrepreneur’s journey.
Andrew: CYstarters is my first introduction to entrepreneurship at Iowa State. I’ve learned so much already and feel like this will be a huge help moving forward in becoming a self-starter.


What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student?
Carissa: Do a pitch competition! Even if you don’t have a strong business idea, it gives you experience in public speaking and helps to articulate your ideas!
Andrew: Don’t be scared to take opportunities if they are presented to you!


Where are you headed? And how would you invite others to join you?
Carissa: I’m so excited for a summer of connecting people to composting in Ames through our service and sustainable product delivery. I encourage residents of Ames to sign up for our service and reach out for assistance in starting composting!

Check out the Core Living Compost website or reach out via email at!