Have you seen Brent’s latest article on Inc? Here’s a recap!
At Roozt.com, an online marketplace for brands that give back, we engage with and analyze thousands of social impact businesses every year. This provides our team with a unique macro-perspective about what pains, issues, and problems there are in our industry at any given point in time. Hands down, the largest recurring pain we hear about from social entrepreneurs is: raising money.
We started Roozt with $500, a dream, and determination to succeed. So whoever tells you that you need a lot of money to start a company is wrong. Just get going with what you have and do one thing everyday that makes progress towards your goal. At some point you may realize you need more money and fundraising is an option.
There is no perfect formula for fundraising, but the following lessons are items I’ve learned from my first hand experience in raising money as a social entrepreneur. There are five things a social entrepreneur must know before starting their fundraising.
1. Know Your Product
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to passionate social entrepreneurs who, after a 20-minute conversation with them, I still have no idea what they really do. It helps nobody if you have the world’s most inspiring idea but can’t communicate it in a clear concise manner.
Another term for this is: what’s your elevator pitch? If you got in an elevator at the top floor of the Empire State Building with Pierre Omidyar (if you don’t know who he is, Google now) and he asked you, “so what do you do?” would he understand and be excited by your company by the time you guys hit the ground floor?
Here’s my elevator pitch: Roozt.com is the world’s online marketplace to discover the sexiest brands that give back at members only prices. For every member who joins, Roozt will donate a meal to an American in need. One member. One meal.
Clean. Simple. Concise. Sure there’s a lot more to it, but unless you get someone’s attention, they’ll never ask any more questions.
2. Know Your Market
What pain in the market does your product solve? How big is the market opportunity? Who are your customers? How will they hear about you? Why will they care? You should be able to answer these questions with as much clarity and enthusiasm as your elevator pitch. The fundamental foundation of every business, and what every investor looks for, is the need to solve a problem or a pain in the industry you’re focused on. It’s not enough to merely integrate a cause. If the product isn’t something people actually want or need, then nobody will buy it, you will go out of business, and that helps no one. Even if your product is exclusively designed for social impact, i.e. building a well in Africa, you need to be focused on how your product will solve a pain that wasn’t currently met until you came into the picture.
3. Know Your Audience
This does not just refer to your customers. Knowing the audience of who you are pitching your investment opportunity is just as important. By understanding who’s in the crowd and what makes them tick, you will know how to structure your presentation to get their attention, keep them interested, and get them excited.
Here are the three types of investors you should know:
- The Impact Investor
Invests in organizations, entities, or ventures whose sole purpose is to create social impact, with or without a business model. These investors measure success of their investments by the SROI (social return on investment), which will vary based on the organization. They also can come in the form of grants or donations.
- The Financial Investor
This type of investor cares about one thing and one thing only–the ROI multiple of every dollar invested. They are driven by capital returns, not social returns. Some are industry agnostic, some invest exclusively in the areas they know best. They separate social good and business as two separate sectors. Traditionally this is the angel investment and venture capital community.
- The Financial Impact Investor
This is the hybrid investor category, of which we are beginning to see an influx of the above two sectors to form a well-rounded group of individuals who care about both financial returns and social impact. They believe that making money and making a difference do not need to be mutually exclusive. They are savvy, experienced business people with a social conscious about the world around them. They may seem like a mythical creature, but I promise you, every community in America has them. Having personally raised significant capital for Roozt from financial impact investors, I can promise you, they are out there if you look hard enough.
Knowing which of these investors you are pitching to will drastically change the tone, content, and focus of your pitch. Often times, social entrepreneurs will have three different versions of their pitch deck depending on who they are talking to. Each investor has different motivations, and you better know what they are before walking into that meeting, otherwise you’re in for a long (or short) pitch…
4. Know Your Numbers
Data–one of my favorite quotes pretty much sums it up: “In God we trust. All others bring data.”–W.E. Demings. If you do not know the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of your organization, what drives them and what affects them, it will be virtually impossible to convince anyone to give you money. This applies to both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Take the time to really understand the numbers around your business, industry, market, customers, product, COGS, and operations so you can know exactly what you need to do to be successful and explain that to investors. Your ability to take complicated matters and turn them into easy-to-digest chunks is critical because you generally only have a few minutes of an investor’s time to get them interested.
5. Know How to Pitch
Whether you realize it or not, you are pitching yourself, your product, your cause, and your company every time you open your mouth, write an e-mail, or hop on a call with someone. That means how you e-mail, the materials you share, what people can see about you on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to the actual pitch presentation you give, are all critical in the closing process. If you make a bad impression at any given stage, you may kill your chances before you even get started. Spend time to craft thoughtful e-mails, do your research, control your online reputation on social media sites, and practice, practice, practice! To become an expert at something they say it takes 10,000 hours of practice, so don’t worry if you bomb your first pitch. When a potential investor says no, and you will hear a lot of no’s, learn to ask them why and for feedback. Then use that feedback to get better and fix things before you talk to the next potential investor. Howard Schultz, founder of a small company called Starbucks, heard over 200 NO’s when he was first pitching his crazy idea for a coffee shop to investors. Every no you hear is one step closer to a yes–so press on, learn, adapt, and never give up.
Ok, phew! Sorry I had to put on my stern pants on for a bit in this post, but more often than not so many inspiring social entrepreneurs lose site of these critical items and shoot themselves in the foot immediately out of the gate–and that’s the last thing I want to see happen.
Trust me when I tell you that there is nothing more exciting than getting that “I’m in!” e-mail, call, or meeting from an investor who believes in you, your concept, and the change you have set out to create.
If you find yourself having trouble with anyone of these tips, seek out the advice of someone who will shoot it to you straight. Constructive and candid feedback is the best way we learn what we’re doing wrong and get one step closer to achieving our goals.
“Twenty years from now you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
It’s almost that time of year when children of all ages get to play pretend and indulge in treats. It’s so easy to get swept up into the gluttony of Halloween so here are 5 tips on how to make this year a year of giving back.
1. Find your costume at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army – How many naughty nurses and pimp costumes is too much? This year, think outside your normal Halloween costume supply stores and visit a thrift store to create your own one-of-a-kind, wallet-friendly outfit. In the process, you’ll also be benefiting others by purchasing from organizations who support those in need.
2. Roast your pumpkin seeds for a natural, healthy snack – It’s fun to decorate pumpkins, but remember that it’s also a vegetable! For a wonderful fall snack, clean off the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin, lay them flat on a baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil and salt then bake in a 300 Degree oven for 40 minutes. You’ll be making double duty of your Halloween staple!
3. Bring Fair Trade alcohol and treats to the party – Now that we are too old to go trick-or-treating, enjoying a good old fashioned Halloween party is a must. Still, remember to try and support Fair Trade products by picking up a bottle of Fair. Quinoa Vodka or Etica Chardonnay for your friends. For a grown-up treat, also try Coco-Zen Halloween Chocolate bars to make everyone really feel like a kid again.
4. Donate candy to soldiers – Have a ton of leftover candy and need a way to get rid of the temptation? Operation Gratitude is a wonderful way to support our troops by sending over packages of candy or snacks to those serving overseas. This year, convince the trick-or-treaters around you to offer some of their candy to Operation Gratitude for the sweetest treat of all.
5. Host a Halloween party for a non-profit – nothing is more fun than inviting your friends over and having a costume contest. Put a twist to this year’s festivities by opening your party up and gathering donations for your favorite charity. It’s a great way to meet new friends and also celebrate the non-profit that you support!
Have a safe and socially-conscious Halloween!
Love your work, work for what you love, and change the world—all at the same time.
What matters most to you? Should you focus on earning a living, pursuing your passions, or devoting yourself to the causes that inspire you? The surprising truth is that you don’t have to choose—and that you’ll find more success if you don’t.
This has always been Roozt’s belief. We don’t want to choose between earning a living, empowering socially responsible products and giving back… so we do it all. We truly admire TOMS’ One for One movement and how they have successfully become the voice of this message. You don’t have to be rich to give back and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love. You can find profit, passion, and meaning all at once—right now.
So when TOMS Founder – Blake Mycoskie wrote a book about the whole concept called ‘Start Something That Matters’ that launched last month, the Roozt Team quickly bought a copy to see what he had to offer!
Our Final Verdict? …Easy to Read, Encouraging and Inspirational!
Roozt reccomends it to people who are just starting on a road to self discovery, finding your own niche and need some motivation.
In Start SomethingThat Matters, Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and combines it with lessons learned from such other innovative organizations as method, charity: water, FEED Projects, and TerraCycle. Blake presents the six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business, from discovering your core story to being resourceful without resources; from overcoming fear and doubt to incorporating giving into every aspect of your life. No matter what kind of change you’re considering, Start Something That Matters gives you the stories, ideas, and practical tips that can help you get started.
This October is the 8th annual Fair Trade Month in the United States. Throughout the month, conscious consumers and ethically-minded brands will unite to celebrate and promote Fair Trade. A variety of education events, in-store sampling programs and online initiatives have been planned to help increase awareness and sales of Fair Trade Certified products, ultimately leading to greater impact for farmers and workers in developing countries. The theme for Fair Trade Month 2011 is Every Purchase Matters.
By supporting and purchasing Fair Trade Products, we can help enliven developing countries, relieve exploitation and promote environmental sustainability- Check out this application by Fair Trade USA to find Fair Trade Certified products around your area!
Check out this video to learn more about The Power of the Consumer – aka YOU!
As most of you may know, October is The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Celebrating 25 years of awareness, education & empowerment, here are some National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Products we love that support Breast Cancer Education. Want something here? All products can be purchased here.
!deation organizes a conference annually by gathering some of the most innovative thinkers and practitioners in the field of doing good (e.g. businesses, organizations etc). Their goal is to help fellow practitioners develop thoughts and tangible next steps for greater impact in their respective work. Between the yearly conferences, !deation also creates smaller, more intimate social entrepreneurship gatherings and the next one is featuring Roozt and Project 7!
The gathering will be held at the new offices of Project 7 in Costa Mesa, and it’ll be an evening of great networking, shared learning and of course, food & drinks! There is a limited seating for this event, so be sure to buy your ticket early by clicking here. (Note that the $10 ticket for admission covers food & drinks).
Date: October 20, 2011
Time: 7:00p.m. – 10:00p.m.
Location: Project 7 Offices – 3195 Red hill. Unit A, Costa Mesa, CA 9262
Special Guests: Brent Freeman- Roozt Founder & CEO
Tyler Merrick - Project 7 Founder & Social Capitalist
Project 7 is an amazing inspirational company that exists to give. They are a cause-related company that makes every day consumer goods, like bio-bottled water, gum, mints and coffee. Projects that you may already buy, but by buying these products from them; you give back, and create change in the world!
Emotions from ten years ago come flooding back today at the inauguration of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. While families and friends gather to commiserate, reflect and honor the lives that were lost on September 11, 2001, the rest of the world will congregate around the television to watch the vigil unfold at the new Memorial and Museum in New York.
The site, designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker, is not only a striking remembrance of the tragedy of 9/11 but also encapsulates the vision of the future, following sustainable guidelines in its design. It features an irrigation, storm water and pest management system to conserve energy, water, and other resources. The project is pursuing the Gold certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for New Construction program and has already been described as one of the most eco-friendly plazas ever constructed.
On its surface, the memorial is dotted with 400 swamp white oak trees serving as a green roof for the museum 70 feet underground. Rainwater will be harvested and used as irrigation. The trees surround the two behemoth-sized reflecting pools, each measuring close to an acre, and hold the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Each pool is equipped with a variable frequency drive, which controls water flow and ensures the motors run at optimal speeds to prevent wear and tear. This will help to dramatically reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions over time, and ensure a sustainable solution while reducing maintenance costs.
Names of all the victims are engraved on the bronze panels edging the pools to remind future generations of the lives lost on the sacred site. The plaza will be free and open to the public the day after its dedication on September 12th, 2011.
Charging a cell phone is now pretty much a standard nightly routine in every American household – we brush our teeth, change into our PJs, take Pluto for one last walk around the block, then plug in our mobile devices to get it juiced up and ready to go again by morning. There’s hardly a second thought into the action and we frequently have to carry it out multiple times a day.
But what if you were able to get ten times the battery life on your phone just by doing all the activities that you normally do in a given day? Scientists at the University of Wisconsin – Madison are working on just that. In an industry-buzzing article released last week in the Nature Communications Journal, Wisconsin’s mechanical engineering department boasted about a technology that would harness the body’s natural power through a small device in the shoe and use it to recharge and prolong the battery in small electronic devices.
Amazingly enough, you’ve probably already seen this technology in action before – think back to those L.A. Gear light-up sneakers of your elementary school years, the ones that flashed a bright neon-pink with every step, skip and hop. That childhood fad was powered with a similar energy harvester but at the most basic of levels. This new development would take that concept to a whole new galaxy.
While capturing the human body’s energy output normally lost in heat is not a novel idea, many a scientist have failed to create a device that could store enough of that power to make an impact. But the researchers at University of Wisconsin claim their new concept of “reverse electrowetting” could generate roughly 20 watts of electrical power per person – enough to recharge the average cell phone battery.
The reverse electrowetting, or REWOD process goes something like this: Our body’s mechanical energy (walking, running, etc.) is captured by a micro-fluidic device consisting of thousands of micro-droplets between a thin film of electrodes that line the shoe – when we hit the ground, a force is applied on the micro-fluidic device, causing the electrodes to change the circuit’s capacitance, allowing for the energy to be captured and converted into an electrical current.
The next step is why many critics are still skeptical about the practicability of such an innovation – now that the power’s there, who would ever want to plug their cell phones into their shoe? It turns out the Wisconsin researchers have thought of this challenge as well. They propose to use the converted power less as a direct energy source but more as an intermediate wireless transmission device similar to a mobile hotspot. This would drastically reduce the battery draining process of transmitting and receiving data via long distances and potentially have you only charging your cell phone once a month!
If this innovation succeeds, the impact could be monumental. The military could incorporate the device into their foot gear to relieve soldiers of hundreds of pounds of excess battery weight. Rural areas without regular access to an electric grid or monetary funds could power their own portable devices. We could even drastically reduce the amount of waste and pollution caused by improper disposal of common batteries. The possibilities would be limitless.
Yet still, there is most likely a long way to go before we will see this technology in mainstream footwear. The Wisconsin scientists have founded a start-up company called In Step NanoPower to commercialize their concept and attract key footwear designers who could incorporate this device into a functional, everyday shoe. For now, the team continues to develop a prototype sole insert via various grants and hopes it will be ready for testing in a few years.
We at Roozt recognize a ground-breaking social innovation when we see one and are excited to follow these innovators’ growth in the upcoming years!