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DiMassimo Goldstein blog

Welcome to our blog! Each week, our inspiring action content creators work hard to update this page with the latest and greatest in the world of DiGo.

Making a Profit From a Worthy Cause: Greedy, Selfless or Both?

The Wall Street Journal / Blogs

By Kelly Spors

If you launch a public-awareness campaign about an important environmental cause – and then generate $6 million in sales from it — are you a greedy entrepreneur or a selfless environmentalist? Or both of the above?
That’s the question Mark DiMassimo and Eric Yaverbaum are asking.

About 17 months ago, the New York entrepreneurs and marketing professionals launched Tappening.com, a Web site that tries to expose the environmental and potential health hazards of drinking from disposable plastic water bottles. The site includes links to news articles, studies, and online videos about how plastic water bottles are harmful to the environment and to consumers’ health. It also includes extra features, such as a database where users can find quality reports on tap water in their state.

Mssrs. DiMassimo and Yaverbaum claim they launched the campaign out of passion for the cause. But to cover the costs of the marketing campaign, they hoped to sell 39,000 reusable water bottles that they had made. They put a lime-green “Buy Now” button on the top of the Web site where site visitors could buy their bottles for $14.95 to $18.95 plus a $3 shipping fee.

But excitement for their viral campaign – and their water bottles – was beyond expectation. They sold 39,000 water bottles within two days and currently have sold more than 400,000 of them, reeling in $6 million in sales thus far. They received tons of media coverage and celebrities including Cameron Diaz were spotted sporting a Tappening bottle. More than 7 million people have visited the site.

In recent months, however, Mr. Yaverbaum says they’ve been criticized increasingly by consumers and media, such as talk radio hosts, for making so much money off what they were positioning as a cause. Mr. Yaverbaum denies they started Tappening to generate revenue, but says, even if they had, there’s nothing wrong with that. “If I was doing it for the money, would that be such a bad thing?” he said in a phone interview. “Wouldn’t that be a really good business model to create shareholder value while also doing good for society?”

He says they plan to continue growing Tappening and have thus far funneled all $6 million back into it, though still adhere to the original public-awareness mission. Tappening currently has about 30 employees.
To play off the criticism – and yes, generate even more publicity for their site — Tappening.com last week posted an online poll where visitors could vote on whether the businessmen are “Greedy Entrepreneurs,” “Selfless Environmentalists” or “Both.” Just under 50,000 people have voted so far. About 12,000 think they’re greedy, 13,000 think they’re selfless and 25,000 think they’re both.

Readers, how about you? Are they greedy, selfless or both? Or have they stumbled on a smart business model that more entrepreneurs could learn from?

Link: Original article…

 

Can capitalism be truly green?: Trying to reconcile profit and sustainability

The Philadelphia Inquirer

By Diane Mastrull

Going green in business might seem altruistic.

But just like health care, the environmental industry is a business sector – one of the few these recessionary days with growth potential. And those toiling in it hope not only to do some social good, but also to make money in the process.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or is there?

A Web poll last week tried to gauge public sentiment on the greening of capitalism. When asked whether two New York marketers who promote the use of tap water and environmentally friendly bottles they sell are “greedy entrepreneurs,” “selfless environmentalists,” or “both,” respondents gave mixed reviews.

As of Friday, the voting on www.tappening.com was running: greedy entrepreneurs, 13,296; selfless environmentalists, 14,608; both, 23,475.

It premiered the same week a program was launched to get businesses in the Philadelphia region to commit to more sustainable practices. Organizers of the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program said companies should join the movement for environmental and economic reasons.

“There is no inherent contradiction between going green and capitalism,” Josh Kaplowitz, a lawyer at Drinker, Biddle & Reath L.L.P., wrote in an e-mail.

His firm is one of the charter members of the Green Business Program and has instituted a number of environmentally friendly measures over the last couple of years. Those have included replacing bottled water with filtered tap water, and plastic forks and knives with cornstarch-based utensils.

“What is so unique about the climate crisis is, we’re all in the same boat, and good business is good for the environment and vice versa,” Kaplowitz said. “We’re not going to find solutions without harnessing theinnovation and profit motive of the private sector.”

At Rohm & Haas Co., Catherine Hunt, director of sustainability, said the company’s greening efforts – including the installation of a cool (as in temperature) roof made of acrylic emulsion on its Center City corporate headquarters – “has opened doors to talk to our customers.”

The company is working to develop products that will be easier on the environment, and it is making efforts to reduce its own carbon footprint. But it is also “about leadership and about being a good citizen,” Hunt said, and it “makes good business sense.”

And for that last part, she made no apologies.

Nor should she, said Leanne Krueger-Braneky, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) of Greater Philadelphia. SBN is a nonprofit organization of local business leaders who share an interest in growing successful companies that have a positive social and environmental impact.

“Part of sustainability is being able to pay your bills,” Krueger-Braneky said. “If you’re not making a profit, you’re not staying in business.”

Roux Associates Inc. is a national environmental consulting and management firm with a regional headquarters in West Deptford. It, too, has signed on as a charter member of the Greater Philadelphia Green Business Program, having implemented a number of green initiatives – including recycling, energy efficiency and employee education. Those actions will help reduce operating costs and also validate for potential clients the importance of Roux’s subsidiary, Domani Sustainability Consulting L.L.C., said Beth Hyde, director of business development.

“It was something that was not profitable immediately and it’s still a question how profitable it is,” Hyde said of the decision to acquire Denver-based Domani three years ago. “We believe, in time, it will be a really good business decision.”

Those who suggest that green businesses should not expect profits, Hyde said, are “people who think there is something bad about making a profit, period. There are plenty of people out there that tend to be antibusiness in general.”

A desire to survive is why Tyra F. Hodges, of Horsham, and Melissa R. Parker, of Bryn Mawr, cofounders of Tymel Style L.L.C., do not give away their fashionable totes made of recycled materials – even at trade shows where freebies are common.

A Tymel bag retails for $8.

“We are environmentalists who are in the business also of making money,” Hodges said. Formed last August, Tymel also offers consulting services on what businesses, organizations, and individuals can do to become more enviro-friendly. It has yet to make a profit. “We hope that will change real soon,” Hodges said without betraying a hint of guilt.

Eric Yaverbaum borders on being a braggart over his earnings from selling more than 400,000 stainless steel and plastic bottles free of BPA (bisphenol-A, an organic compound) since he and partner Mark DiMassimo launched their pro-tap water campaign in November 2007. He said sales – bottles and a duffel bag made from recycled single-serve water bottles and yogurt containers – have exceeded $6 million.

Truth be known, they are the ones behind the tappening. com Web site and its greed-vs.-green poll.
Pressed for his reasons behind sampling public opinion on whether he and DiMassimo are considered “greedy entrepreneurs” or “selfless environmentalists,” Yaverbaum came clean: “It’s overtly designed to get attention.”

If some consider that greedy, so be it, he said.

“While greed is a very bad word in these days and times,” Yaverbaum said, “when it comes to the environment, if you can do something good and make money doing it and you want to attach the word greed to it, it’s not a bad word.”

Read the article here.

Think Small, like Steve Jobs

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“Since founding Apple with engineer Stephen Wozniak, (Steve) Jobs has believed that small teams of top talent will outperform better-funded big ones. He has used the same approach at Pixar, where creative chief John Lasseter has led the way in creating blockbusters like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Jobs also outsources far more selectively than his rivals. He’d rather have all his creatives working together than save a few bucks by outsourcing such work overseas.”  — Business Week

Big ideas come from small teams. Brand building is no exception to the Jobs rule. It is, at its best, a small team activity. That’s why challengers worship the garage and the cocktail napkin, not the multinational conglomeration of bricks and mortar. The team that builds the brand can be the team that creates the advertising. It includes the client and a small, elite agency team. Its mode of operation is total collaboration. Its measure is always the mark, never the compromise. The brands of the future are being built this way.