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MBA takes 7-year-old business partner

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Sweeney Family / gunnersrecycling.com

(Read caption) Gunner Sweeney, shown picking up one of his company's recycling bins, created a business with his dad, transporting their neighbors' glass to a local recycling facility. "I like to recycle and keep the Earth clean, so my dad helped me start a glass recycling service," said Gunner on his website.

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Shawn Sweeney will soon be graduating from the MBA program at Belmont University. Like a growing number of graduate students and alumni, he made the decision to leave his corporate job to become a full-time entrepreneur.

But what makes Sweeney unique is his choice of a business partner for his venture. It is his 7-year-old son, Gunner.

As with many opportunities, this business was born out of an interest that Shawn and Gunner had in common.

When Gunner was 5, he became interested in recycling. It was around the same time that Gunner was also learning about money and how to count. Since Nashville's recycling program does not pick up glass, Shawn Sweeney mentioned the idea of taking neighbors' glass to the recycling center for a fee. That piqued Gunner's interest right away.

In August 2009, Gunner and his dad walked through their immediate neighborhood to find customers. Six neighbors signed up.

The neighbors loved the service and began telling their friends and neighbors. Gunner Recycling soon reached the maximum capacity for the family truck, so father and son decided that it was time to invest in a trailer.

As Gunner Recycling continued to grow, it quickly became a family business. Tiffany Sweeney, Gunner's mother, became part of the team. Shawn Sweeney recently left the corporate world to focus more time on entrepreneurship, including Gunner Recycling.

"It's inspiring to see the amount of glass recycled through our small business," Shawn Sweeney said. "Gunner's vision is to get every person in the world to recycle as his customer. I'm still trying to talk him into focusing on getting every person in Nashville to recycle as his customer.

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