Composting in the Garden This Spring!
Marco Bitran | 27 Aug 2015

Marco Bitran is the founder and chief executive officer of AI Exchange, Inc. Marco has held positions with Morgan Stanley, Qualcomm, Wellington Management, and other firms. He currently resides in Brookline, Massachusetts. Along with his current endeavor, Bitran is concerned about the environment and encourages people to use compost. Recently, he launched a website, www.composting101.com, to enlighten readers about ways to make and use it.

Many people start composting for practical reasons. Home composting your leaves, grass clippings, garden waste and food scraps reduces the amount of garbage you generate. Plus, compost is essential for a great garden, and starting your own pile ensures a free, regular supply. But I think there's an even better reason to compost: it's fascinating. In fact, once you understand the basics of how the process works, composting can be one of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of keeping a garden.

Composting mimics and intensifies nature's recycling plan. A compost pile starts out as a diverse pile of kitchen and garden "waste." Left alone, any of these materials would eventually decompose. But when a variety of materials are mixed together and kept moist and aerated, the process accelerates. Compost matures into what soil scientists call active organic matter: a dark, crumbly soil amendment that's rich with beneficial fungi, bacteria and earthworms, as well as the enzymes and acids these life-forms release as they multiply.

At AI Exchange Marco learned that adding compost to garden soil increases its water-holding capacity, invigorates the soil food web and provides a buffet of plant nutrients. Compost also contains substances that enhance plants' ability to respond to challenges from insects and diseases.

As Marco Bitran says, formed by decomposed organic material, compost has earned recognition due to its "green" properties and the enhancements it brings to one's garden. Leaves, shredded twigs, and other scraps can be converted to compost. Individuals can add compost to various types of soil to improve its properties, such as the ability to hold water and provide nutrients. Moreover, it saves people money by allowing them to reuse material they already own and not have to buy replacements.

In 2011, entrepreneur Marco Bitran and two business partners founded AI Exchange, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts. Bitran raised $1.5 million in startup venture capital from several of the industry's top early-stage investment funds, including General Catalyst, LaunchCapital, Common Angels and Founder Collective. The company, of which he is also Chief Executive Officer, aims to bring transparency and liquidity to investment advisers and clients. As such, Marco Bitran designed technology that enables advisers to access alternative investment strategies.

   When forming compost, individuals need to concern themselves with four elements: oxygen, bacteria, moisture, and organic material. Initially, composters need to acquire organic material of both brown and green varieties, such as manure and dead leaves for the former and lawn clippings and pieces of fruit for the latter. Water and oxygen enhance the process by aiding the bacteria already present to break everything down into usable compost.

Marco Bitran earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Economics from MIT, and a Master's in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He captained MIT's NCAA Division I rowing team to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) finals. Bitran is also a member of the Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Xi national honor societies. He speaks fluent Portuguese and enjoys world traveling, hiking, and photography.

In 2003 Marco Bitran joined Wellington Management Company in Boston as a Sector-Fund Manager and Global Industry Analyst. At Wellington, he managed a $1 billion global sector fund focused on infrastructure and capital goods. Later, as founder and Portfolio Manager of Clearstream Investments, LLC, Bitran grew an exchange-traded fund to $550 million in assets using models developed by MIT Sloan School Professor and Former Associate Dean Gabriel R. Bitran and MIT graduate Shioulin Sam.