PlanG Is All Things Giving–Right In One Place

PlanG, Richmond Startup, Cause marketing, social entrepreneurship, startup, Monica SelbyMy favorite thing about working in startups?

Companies like PlanG. We are inundated with apps, social networks, and games that seem to make little real difference in the world. It’s often hard to identify the real problem companies are solving, even if those companies are creating something fun.

PlanG isn’t like that. Instead, PlanG is taking philanthropic giving and making it easier and more efficient. Individuals simply create a “giving” account and deposit funds into it from their credit or debit cards. They can also create fundraising campaigns to get their friends involved, or give and receive PlanG gift cards. Then, each person can pick from over 1 million charities to give to, as many charities as they want. The PlanG account gives the money securely, and at tax time, there’s a tax report all ready to go.

Personally, I love this idea alone. It makes it easier to manage the money you give to causes you love, and increases your awareness of what you’re giving. I’m sold on just those features.

But, the best thing about PlanG is the platform they’ve created for brands.

We all know how giving-through-shopping works: brands pick a cause and customers know when they purchase something, a percentage goes to the advertised cause. Think Gap’s (red) campaign.

This tactic is called cause marketing, and it allows brands to promote brand loyalty through the emotional connection people have with giving to others. By some measures, 80% of customers are willing to switch if a brand is associated with a good cause.

How much more powerful would that be if the individual shopper could pick the cause themselves?

PlanG’s “Spend and Give” platform allows brands to offer just that kind of customization. When you shop at businesses with the free platform, a percentage of your purchase is deposited into your PlanG account. Then you can give to whichever cause you see fit.

With their suite of business products, PlanG helps brands build customer loyalty, but it also makes giving more frictionless for individuals. Sometimes the big name organizations a brand might partner with are actually pretty controversial. Customers may not want their money going to that particular cause. Allowing individuals to channel their money to causes they love will also increase their loyalty to the brand.

Win-win-win

The Richmond-based company has had a busy 16 months.Founded in 2010 by Marti Beller, Heather Loftus, and Melina Davis-Martin, they closed a $4 million angel round in February 2012. They used that money to build their beta site and various features of the product. The site launched out of beta in February 2013, and now they are focusing on new strategic partnerships with businesses that may want to utilize PlanG’s giving platform.

Check out the PlanG website for more information and keep up with them on Twitter. This female-led startup is doing great things.

This 14 year old social entrepreneur in Chattanooga has been at it for 4 years already.

EECincyBanner

The Anew School Gives American Boys Hope In Africa

Nashville startup, NewMe Accelerator, Memphis startup, Education, AfricaHere at Nibletz, we cover mostly high-growth technology startups. Even with a lot of noise in the space, we ultimately believe these are the ventures that are shaping our world.

But, every so often we come across a different kind of venture that we just can’t help but write about. Last month I attended the Demo Day of the Memphis edition of the NewME PopUp Accelerator. I was blown away by the great ideas and the caliber of entrepreneurs in the room. One in particular is not starting a tech company. In fact, she’s going into education, a rocky field at best. But, I was so impressed by her and her venture, I couldn’t help but share it with Nibletz readers.

Marston-1Alexandria Lee knows firsthand what it’s like to grow up struggling. The daughter of a single mom and a drug addict dad, her story could have been one of the thousands of tragedies happening in American schools every day. Except for that one teacher who challenged her to do more. Thanks to him–a transplant from Senegal–she switched to honors classes and surprised everyone by graduating not just from high school, but also from Spelman College and Harvard Law School.

Now, Nashville-based Lee has a new vision for education for African-American boys.

“9% of black males in the 8th grade can read at a proficient level,” she said in her NewME pitch. Well, obviously, that’s not acceptable.

Lee’s solution is to open a school in Ghana and transplant at-risk boys for a few years of out-of-their-element education. Besides honors-level classes, the boys will be paired with a local student to learn leadership and entrepreneurship. They will work together to devise community action plans that solve real problems in the local community. The school wants to teach African-American boys where their roots really are, not in the tragedy of slavery, but in the deserts of Africa.

“Our goal is to transform discarded youth into community leaders. Our students will come into the program underperforming. We will first catch them up, and then excel them past their classmates back home. But, more than just academic gap closure, our students will be trained in emotional competence, given the desire to serve others, and learn manhood lessons. At an early age they will become global citizens and return to their communities with broadened horizons, prepared to begin finding solutions to ills within their own communities,” Lee told me in an email.

The Anew School will receive charter school funding from the state of Tennessee, but they will also supplement with donations from private foundations. They already have some land in Ghana and will begin building soon.

Check out The Anew School on Facebook and Twitter.

Other great things happen in Memphis, like the biggest startup conference in the world for startups everywhere else.

NIBV2V

Dallas Startup Be Pawsitive, Buy One Give One For Dogs!

BePawsitive, Dallas startup, Texas Startup, Social Entrepreneurship, startup interview

Buy one give one charities have become one of the most popular forms of social entrepreneurship. I don’t mind buying my family Toms, because I know I’m doing my little part for charity in my already busy life.  Over the past couple of years, monthly subscription box startups have become equally popular.

Now Dallas-based entrepreneur Travis Watson has put both concepts together in a startup he calls Be Pawsitive.  Be Pawsitive is a monthly subscription box of organic treats for your favorite canine companion. The “home baked” treats taste great to dogs, and they’re good for them as well.  But, in addition to your dog, when you sign up for Be Pawsitive, the same box will be sent to an animal shelter so those dogs can enjoy the treats. For every purchased box, one is donated.

bepawsitive2

“After learning that more than 3 million dogs end up in shelters across the country each year, I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help,” Watson said in a statement. “The treats we donate not only provide a healthy snack for the dogs but also help with obedience training to get them ready for new homes, and also serve as an “ice breaker” for the dog and potential adopter during their first meeting. The treats are really making a difference.”

Treats come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors including; The Original, Rise and Shine, Cheesy-Berry, Pizza Party, Power Berry, Banana Split, Pumpkin Pie, Relax, and Iron Dog.  In addition to the delicious snacks, Be Pawsitive also tries to include other things for their canine customers like toys and for their first box a $25 gift certificate to Rover, another startup that helps dog owners find experienced pet sitters.

Check out our interview with Watson below:

EE-FORENTREPRENEURSWhat is your startup called?

Be Pawsitive

What does your company do?

We sell a monthly subscription box for dogs. The box is full of our delicious oven baked dog treats and a few other fun dog items. Each box of treats we sell provides a box of treats we donate to animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country. We operate with a Buy One, Give One business model. Each month customers get a new treat flavor in their box as well as other sponsored products (ex. gift cards, dog toys, misc dog stuff).

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Travis Watson (me) is the founder of Be Pawsitive. I have a background in design and finance. I graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a BBA in Management in 2009.

Where are you based?

Dallas, Texas

What problem do you solve?

Each year over 3 million dogs will enter into animal shelters across the country. We are working to help make their (shelter dogs) lives better and increase adoption rates. Our treats are used during obedience training to help dogs get ready for new homes. Dogs that are leash trained and obedient get adopted faster. Our treats also act as an ice breaker during the first meet and greet with a shelter dog and person(s) looking to adopt. Some of these dogs come from abusive past or are just a little scared being in an environment with so much going on. Being able to give the dog a treat shows that your intentions are good and allows the dog to feel more comfortable and hopefully leads to a long term relationship with those people. And finally they are a healthy snack for the dogs. Many of our treats provide additional nutrients and are packed with healthy ingredients. We are also working to raise awareness to adopt instead of buy from a breeder or pet store. The over supply of shelter dogs can be lessened with more people adopting.

Why does it matter?

People have a special connection with dogs and we want to provide a way for them to reward their own dog with amazing dog treats and also provide them with a way to help other dogs out.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We had a successful launch of our website www.bepawsitive.com on June 1st and have been gaining traction within the subscription box (for dogs) market.

What are your next milestones?

Our next big push will be a mix of online marketing, social media engagement, and grass roots marketing. We hope to keep gaining new relationships with shelters and rescue organizations that will benefit from our treat donations.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Facebook.com/likebepawsitive

twitter @bepawsitive

instagram.com/bepawsitivedogs

blog.bepawsitive.com

 

Check out this startup, it’s Fitbit for dogs.

Social Entrepreneur Sticks It To Ambercrombie’s Douche Bag CEO Mike Jeffries

Greg Karber,Abercrombie & Fitch, Mike Jeffries, Social entrepreneurshipThe stories about Mike Jeffries,the king of retail douche baggery, have been all over the interwebs over the last two weeks. That’s when he went on the record saying that he doesn’t sell his clothing to plus sized women and that Abercrombie is elitest and only wants a certain kind of customer.

Jeffries actually said, in regard to this policy, ” In every school there are the cool and popular kids and then there are the not so cool kids. We go after the cool kids. A lot of people don’t belong and they can’t belong”.

This has prompted a wide range of reactions across the country. Boycotts, meme’s, and the latest endeavor, one social entrepreneur’s way to get back and give back.

AF2Los Angeles based Greg Karber, who bills himself as a writer, philosopher, performer, video maker, cultural critic and entrepreneur set out on a journey in hopes that others will join him.

He went into a Los Angeles GoodWill store and bought up their entire inventory of Abercrombie and Fitch clothing, in a variety of sizes and styles. He then set out to L.A.’s skid row, an area with one of the largest homeless populations in America and started giving away the clothes.

In the video below Karber says he can’t do it alone. He wants anyone that can to go through their closets, their friends closets and their neighbors closets and donate all their A&F clothing to their local homeless shelter. And when you do this, tag it #fitchthehomeless.

ReThreaded The Social Startup That Won The Most Votes At OneSpark [video]

ReThreaded,Social entrepreneurship,social startup,Florida startup,OneSpark,Kristin Keen

(photo: NMI 2013)

Last Wednesday OneSpark, the World’s Crowdfunding Festival kicked off in Jacksonville Florida. It was five days of creators, entrepreneurship, artists and startups. The creators, and entrepreneurs came from all different categories and all different walks of life.

During the opening ceremonies, led by voice of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brian Sexton, we were given a glimpse of what was to come. Sexton invited random creators to raise their hands and come up and pitch their creation, business or startup to the crowd. Each of the five creators had 90 seconds to deliver an on the spot pitch. One of those pitches was Kristin Keen the founder of Rethreaded.

Rethreaded is a social startup that puts women who’ve suffered some of the worst abuse known to humans, sex trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution, and gives them a new sense of life, and worth through business, artistry and employment. Keen spoke to the crowd with a genuine passion. She had spent five years of her life in India where she helped empower women who had suffered the same kind of abuse through teaching them to sew.

Keen told Florida’s First Coast News that when she got back home to Jacksonville she couldn’t sit still she wanted to do something to continue her mission, and that she did.

She started Rethreaded, which crafts children’s clothes out of used t-shirts. So not only is she putting women who need a lift up a place to work and be creative, but she’s also upcycling t-shirts.

Little did she know when she pitched her company on Wednesday afternoon that she would be the runaway vote leader at the end of the week. She also didn’t know what was in store for her just a few moments later.

rethreadedenvelopesAfter all five creators had pitched, OneSpark volunteers handed out sealed white envelopes. Sexton informed the crowd that in those envelopes (which we weren’t allowed to look in) were $1 and $5 bills, $1000 dollars worth. The crowd was instructed to find the creators who just pitched outside of the creator lounge tent and hand over the envelope. Like me, many of the crowd didn’t even look in the envelopes.

I had made a core group of new friends at OneSpark and silently we all took our envelopes and walked over to find Kristin. We weren’t alone. She won that contest by a landslide.

rethreadedhutThe OneSpark staff did daily updates at 5:30pm each evening to inform the crowd of who the biggest movers in voting were and sure enough on Saturday evening Rethreaded was the biggest mover.

Their OneSpark booth was a hut constructed out of used t-shirts, which made a great make-shift shelter when the rain came pouring down Saturday afternoon.

Keen was one of the greatest creators we met. She was extremely kind and humble and we’re pretty sure she wasn’t even expecting the win. I caught a glimpse of Keen in her hut on Saturday afternoon, tearing up telling a group of passerbys that she never expected the outpouring of support she received at OneSpark.

Naturally I was gunning for a tech startup to win the overall vote during the five days of crowd voting, but I couldn’t be more pleased that the top vote went to Kristin Keen and Re-Threaded, a social entrepreneur with a heart of gold. With the most votes, Rethreaded took home $6,768.42 of the $250,000 crowdfunding prize. Event registrants voted for one creator using the OneSpark app and the money was distributed evenly among the top vote getters.

You can see how genuine Keen is in her 90 second pitch below:

Find out more about Rethreaded here.

Here’s over 30 more startup stories from OneSpark.

 

In The Wake Of The Boston Marathon Bombings Paul Graham Turned To Watsi, And Then Took His First Board Seat On Their Board

Watsi,YCombinator,Paul Graham,Startup

Chase Adam founder of Watsi (photo: Jim Wilson/New York Times)

Y Combinator founder Paul Graham is a busy man. Based on the West Coast, when America’s hearts turned to the Boston Marathon bombings, his did as well. Being so far away there wasn’t much he could do to help the situation in Boston so he turned to Watsi.

Graham tweeted on Monday “When terrible things happen to people I can’t help, I go to watsi.org and help people I can”.

grahamtweetWatsi is a crowdfunding platform that allows users to connect with patients with real serious needs for low cost medical care and enables users to fund high impact treatments.

For example the Watsi home page shows Eliazar a young Guatemalan man who had to have his right arm amputated after gang members threw a grenade into his home. For just $650 he can get a prosthetic device that will help him perform simple daily tasks that are impossible at the moment. He is just $205 away from that goal.

Currently Eliazar is the only fundraising patient on the site, to date they’ve funded over 300 patients and helped them get their much needed medical attention.  Now you can see why Graham would choose such a service to actually help people.

It was this revolutionary new concept in crowdfunding for social good that motivated Graham to invite the founders out to Silicon Valley for a meeting and then invite them into Y-Combinator as the accelerator’s first ever non-profit startup.

Like many Silicon Valley power players, Graham is a very busy man. He enjoys helping and nurturing the startups that are in the YC program and serves as a “father figure” to many of them, well beyond their YC days. He’s known for going to bat for his startups with other power players in the investment community, like the ever so famous Paul Graham, Fred Wilson debate over Airbnb.

grahamtweet2While many power player’s resumes include laundry lists of board seats that they serve on, until now Graham has never taken a board seat.   Just like Watsi was the first ever non-profit in the Y-Combinator program, it was also the first startup that Graham has ever decided to take a board seat on.

Graham will now provide guidance to the young company that money can’t even buy.  With that in mind you also have to consider the fact that this is a non-profit so Graham can’t expect a large return, if any at all.

For decades, heart wrenching commercials have shown up on the TV urging people to sponsor kids in foreign countries for education, clothing and food. For just $.25 a day you can make a difference. While those programs are great, most people receive a photo in the mail of one kid and aren’t clear on where their money actually went. With Watsi it’s very clear. Of course they are also vetting the patients’ stories as well to make sure the money goes in the right place.

With all that’s going on in the world today, this is just a great story to share on a Sunday. Share it below!

sneakertaco

New Hampshire Social Entrepreneurs Launch LocalCoaster

20121224-133233.jpg

We’ve seen an explosion of social entrepreneurship represented by some great out of the box startup ideas. Back in November we brought you an interview with Utah Startup HeadCase, which is attacking poverty with headphones. We also recently wrote about Los Angeles startup Upperatus, using unique monthly designed t-shirts and donating $11 per shirt to a monthly charity.

Now, New Hampshire startup LocalCoaster is using coasters in bars and restaurants as a socially driven advertising vehicle. The startup, founded by Whit Whitman, Jim Thompson, Susan Wiley and Matt Burke are using both sides of a coaster to engage customers, get them local deals and give to charity.

The company is attracting local businesses and corporate sponsors to advertise on the coasters.

NPR describes the process like this:

One side of the coaster is sold to a local advertiser, for example RiverRun Bookstore. On the other side the advertising will be sold to larger corporations like Holloway Automotive .

The coasters will be distributed free to local restaurants and bars. The advertisers and partnered restaurants will get to vote for their favorite charities. The charity selected will receive the first $5000 of the as revenue.

The startup received there first shipment of 110,000 coasters at the beginning of the month. They’ve signed up 11 local businesses and 1 corporate advertiser to date. They are optimistic about LocalCoaster. They also have 16 local and regional charities on board.

They plan on expanding outside of Portsmouth shortly. In February they will open up shop in Portland Maine. Burlington Vermont and Conway New Hampshire are already listed on the companies website.

Linkage:

Check out LocalCoaster here

Check out these other startups from “everywhere else”

everywhereelse.co is the largest startup conference in the U.S.

Memphis Social Entrepreneur Sarah Petschonek Takes Volunteer Experience Nationwide

Sarah Petschonek,Confessions of a volunteer, Volunteer Bound,social startup,social entrepreneurship,Memphis statup30 Year old Memphian, Sarah Petschonek left her Nashville job in September of this year to return home to Memphis, Tennessee. Petschonek who has a socially motivated work background and a PhD, wanted to find a more impactful and meaningful path for her life.

Being a lifelong volunteer since childhood, and with the support of her family and closest friends, she did the most logical thing and went back to volunteering. This time around it would be different though — a mission.

For the entire month of November, including today, Petschonek worked each day, every day at a different volunteer organization. She blogged about each day of her journey on her website at confessionsofavolunteer.com.

Along the way she volunteered helping children, senior citizens, homeless people, urban farmers, students and more. When local CBS affiliate, News Channel 3 caught up with Petschonek she was volunteering for SAVE an organization that provides vision services for students.

“Each time you volunteer you generate a ripple effect across the community and you create positive change in the world. You don’t have to be perfect in order to be the perfect volunteer. Whatever your talents and interests, you have the potential to inspire yourself and everyone around you!” Petschonek said.

Her volunteer days go back 22 years to when she was 8 years old. Her and her two siblings would pull a wagon around Jacksonville Florida, passing out fliers and collecting food for the needy.

With this 30 day stint coming to an end, Petschonek has decided to do the next logical thing and take her volunteer experience across the country. She will begin the next leg of her journey in Portland, Oregon and travel to Boise, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta and back to Jacksonville to rekindle the youthful social entrepreneur that started this all.

Petschonek’s Memphis journey yielded media coverage from the prominent local media outlets.  Her blog is already averaging 30,000muv. All Petschonek hopes to do is inspire people to donate just one hour of their time, whether it be once a week, or once a month to whatever cause they can relate to.  The results are already amazing including a local law firm giving 10% of their revenues to the local food bank and many others giving personally with time, money, and resources.

Petschonek has launched an indiegogo campaign at indiegogo.com/volunteerbound to help fund the nationwide expedition.  While she realizes that a journey like this may be more comfortable in the summer months, winter time is when people, and volunteer organizations need the most help.

People can stay up to date with Petschonek’s nationwide adventure at her blog site confessionsofavolunteer.com and contribute to her journey through links on that page or directly at indiegogo.com/volunteerbound.

Linkage:

Check out Sarah’s blog here

Support her on indiegogo here

No one covers startups in the southeast like nibletz.com

Sarah Petschonek will be here, will you?

Los Angeles Startup: Upperatus Is Making A Difference With T-Shirts INTERVIEW

Upperatus,Los Angeles startup,startups,social entrepreneurshipYesterday we brought you the story about Utah based startup HeadCase who is trying to make a social difference with their unique, premium headphones. Today we’re turning to Los Angeles and social entrepreneur Jeff Kudlishevich and his LA startup Upperatus.

Kudlishevich’s startup, with a really cool name, is taking uniquely designed t-shirts, pairing them up for social causes, injecting celebrity spokespeople and donating a portion to charity. We’re not talking about 50 cents or a dollar, no that’s all been done before. Upperatus builds in $11 of each t-shirt sold to the paired up non profit organization.

This month Upperatus has teamed up with classical singer Nathan Pacheco and artist Dan Mccauley to donate $11 per shirt sold to Save The Bay (The Santa Monica Bay for those of you keeping track).

The Upperatus site describes this month’s charity below:

The Santa Monica Bay is the centerpiece of Los Angeles’ beach culture, and the geographic center of the LA region. Stretching from Malibu to Palos Verdes, the bay is where millions of Angelenos relax and work. Because of their economic, ecological and recreational value, our waterways and the ocean are critical resources worth protecting.

  • Santa Monica Bay beaches average 45 million visits per year
  • The Bay generates more than $1 billion in visitor spending annually.
  • Tourism accounts for more than 500,000 jobs in the greater L.A. area

The population of Los Angeles has skyrocketed in the past 100 years and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our environment. In the mid 1980s, improperly treated sewage led to dead zones in the Bay and harmful water quality. Thanks to the efforts of Heal the Bay and its supporters, the EPA mandated stricter sewage treatment processes, resulting in greatly improved water quality.

Despite the amazing gains, your Bay faces ongoing challenges, from marine debris to overfishing. The good news is that you can help protect our beaches and oceans. And remember, watersheds connect you to ocean, no matter if you live on the coast or 60 miles inland.

If you haven’t noticed, with the holidays upon us we’re featuring more social entrepreneurs. Upperatus is another great way for the slacktivists to get involved, and you get a cool shirt in the process. What makes Upperatus even better is that they’re changing the shirts and the causes every month so you aren’t stuck with the same shirt and your money going to the same cause.

We got a chance to interview Kudishevich. Check out the interview below.

Read More…