Grow Your Startup Beyond What You Ever Thought Possible

Playing with The Magnifying Glass by A. Currell (Source: Flickr)

Create a new model that catapults your business to new heights using a social impact lens. Take Outerwall, Boll & Branch, Moxie Jean, Microsoft, and BMW as examples.

  • Outerwall, known for its Coinstar coin-cashing machines and Redbox video-rental kiosks, is expanding its network of ATM style machines to include hundreds of ecoATMs, which pay cash in exchange for tech junk like old smartphones. The company then strips the devices of their reusable hardware and recycles the good pieces. “[It’s] good business but certainly good for the overall environment and really does line up with what we do at Outerwall around focusing on sustainability and investing back into the community,” said Scott Di Valerio, Outerwall’s CEO.
  • Microsoft developed a special headset that wrapped around the ear, and allowed pedestrians and cyclists to listen to music while still being able to hear traffic. The company later realized the technology could be instrumental for the sight impaired by adding a GPS system and live transportation information.
  • Boll & Branch, a startup revolutionizing the bedding industry, launched the world’s first towel line to earn full Fair Trade Certification. In the process of guaranteeing a production that abides by strict ethical standards protecting farmers, factory workers, and the environment, Boll & Branch undercut department store prices by 50%.
  • Moxie Jean, a “Netflix for baby clothes,” had been failing to acquire subscribers, so consultants urged CEO Sharon Schneider to switch to a “Birch Box for baby clothes” model instead. Rather than lose her social impact, however, Schneider re-launched last July as an online re-seller of children’s clothing with no subscription required. “Business is going like gangbusters,” she told Entrepreneur, as her sales grow by 50% a month.
  • BMW’s iVenture invests in early-and-mid stage companies that look to the transportation of tomorrow. The fund didn’t focus on social impact originally, but many of its supporting startups have come to exemplify sustainability, reports Model Behavior: 20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability. Examples include ParkatmyHouse, the “AirBnB of parking;” MyCityWay, an app for easy urban navigation; and Chargepoint, a company installing charging stations for electric vehicles.

For information on how to take on social impact, please visit our site at and ask about our pro bono consulting services.

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