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Growing the Sustainable Brands Revolution...Will You Help?
June 25, 2012
The Sustainable Brands community is driving a revolution in how business and brands will succeed in the future, and we are honored to be stewards of this community as it moves forward. You can help support our effort to enable more brands to succeed by leading the way to a better future by voting for Sustainable Brands in the Chase/LivingSocial Small Business Grant Competition. Ask your friends to do the same! It won’t take more than 30 seconds and the support from this grant would allow our team to significantly improve our services to you, our community.
Please accept our thanks, and remember, you need to vote BEFORE JUNE 30!
- Log in with Facebook
- Search for "Sustainable Brands" and vote for us!
See our founder's response to Chase's qualification questionnaire below, and thanks for your support and for helping us spread the word!
Click here to see our founder's response to Chase's questionnaire
Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?
Launched in 2006, Sustainable Life Media is a change making business that is working to drive the global shift to a sustainable economy. We are doing so by building SustainableBrands.com, a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of business, marketing and innovation professionals who are leading the way to a better future. Our customers are environmental and social entrepreneurs committed to serving and enhancing local sustainable economies, such as Taylor Guitars, Chipotle, Lush Cosmetics and SustainU.com, or to driving business model disruption for sustainability such as ZipCar and AirBNB, or to enabling consumer behavior change in their local communities such as RecycleBank, GoodGuide, PracticallyGreen.com and Earth 911. We also serve innovation leaders within many of the world's best known global brand companies such as Starbucks, Target, Coca-Cola, Green Mt. Coffee, Timberland, Patagonia, Kendall Jackson, and countless others who are seeking to understand sustainability as a driver for business and brand innovation. They recognize that success in the 21st century will be predicated, among other things, on their ability to find new ways to drive meaningful value to the local communities in which they operate. And finally, we serve the eco-system of service providers supporting the shift to sustainable business, such as academic institutions like Stanford, MIT, Wharton and UC Berkeley, local and national governmental agencies and NGOs, and solution providers seeking to help.
We generate revenue by producing live events large and small, convening and supporting a paid membership networking group, stewarding an online news and information portal, and designing educational resources of various sorts (webinars, online learning, public seminars in various cities around the country and in-house training,) all of which leverage our market knowledge, connection to experts, and growing global network of buyers and sellers of sustainable business solutions.
Beginning in 2006 with the launch of our website, and proceeding in 2007 with the launch of both a city-by-city roadshow to engage local stakeholders in the community and the launch of our flagship international conference, we have grown from a team of 3, touching perhaps 1000 people in 2007 online and at face to face events, to a team of 17 that has achieved international visibility and will touch more than 300,000 unique business leaders worldwide in 2012.
We have done so by uniquely understanding the needs and practical realities of business today, as well as the powerful market drivers of tomorrow, and by excelling at stakeholder engagement, at curating world leading ideas and information, and at create productive conversations and networking spaces that generate value for all members of the community as well as for the communities in which our brands operate, their customers, their suppliers and their investors.
How is your business involved with the community you serve?
The Sustainable Brands Community is home to passionate individuals whose purpose is to deliver exceptional business performance AND shared value for society. We equip them with the inspiration, information, networking platforms and solutions necessary to successfully drive big ideas into reality. At the same time, we also directly drive change in the physical communities within which we operate. We do so by working with management teams at the venues where we host our events, as well as with officials in city government and other local businesses to help instill new sustainability practices that last after we leave. We teach new venues how to become zero waste facilities, for example, by engaging them in partnerships to deliver zero waste events which we have acheived each of the last 3 years. As a result, we impart knowledge and system change that lasts after we move on.
For example, in Monterey, CA, we worked first with the executive teams at our hotel and convention center, as well as with the city of Monterey and the local waste management company to install new recycling and composting systems and practices, first at the venue, and ultimately at the city. These continue on today, though we have moved on to another city in order to meet our growth needs. We are currently working on the same process in the City of San Diego where we will locate our annual US event next year as well. While there, in addition to working on developing proper recycling and compost systems, we are also working to raise awareness in the public of the importance of sustainable consumption and bringing together many stakeholders in San Diego who are independently working on driving sustainable development -- from the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park Museums, to the green tech incubation centers and universities, to the city office -- to help them think about how they can better collaborate with each other, and with the global brands and other stakeholders we are bringing to town to drive their institutions, and city toward a sustainable future.
What would a $250k grant mean to your business plan and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability?
While we received a small amount of financial support from friends and family in 2008, this funding was exhausted by the end of that year, and we have grown our business since then based entirely on our own steam, with the help of great partnerships and word of mouth. Even though we launched with only about 20% of the funding we initially identified as ideal, thanks to several years of incredibly hard work, and a passion for our vision and purpose on behalf of our team and our extended community of supporters, our business, and therefore our impact has grown by double digits every year since we launched in 2006 (except in 2009, post stock market crash.) We expect to achieve 100% growth in revenue in 2012, and believe the business is set to explode, however despite our growth, we continue to be under-resourced relative to the demand and opportunity in front of us, and we are struggling to keep up with our potential. In response to demand, and with the support of Unilever and others, we are expanding to launch a conference in London in November, and in Brazil in Q1 2013. In addition, we are currently fielding interest from readers from many other locations around the globe – including China, Japan and Turkey, India, Thailand and Argentina, Mexico and Canada, Norway, Eastern Europe, South Africa and beyond. $250k would allow us to right size the salaries of our core team, therefore insuring continuity, to secure our trademarks world-wide (we have secured marks in the US, and registration in the EU and Brazil is underway) as well as to add 4 much needed headcount to support these expansion opportunities. These funds would allow us to reach a stable base of operations so that our decisions can be more strategic and less driven by the need to satisfy our cash flow requirements. This grant is exactly what we need to ensure our ability to leverage these many years of knowledge, market and brand building work into significant expansion of both our business and our global impact.
What types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them?
As we have been executing on our plan by putting one foot in front of the next over the past 6 years, and have seen our success continue to build upon itself, we have validated without a doubt that we are on the right track. We have a highly recognized and respected customer facing brand (Sustainable Brands), a global reputation and an amazing global network of people of influence pulling for us. Our main current weakness is cash flow and the lack of bandwidth for fund-raising. We are hopeful that Chase will see our business as a perfect grant recipient , and thus help us overcome this single biggest challenge. With your support, we are excited by the prospect of continuing to drive global change at the local level by expanding our on-the-ground presence in local communities through more local events, training, and business networking groups. Many of our global brands have expressed interest in working toward this end (including Staples and UPS for example, each of whom have local outlets in many many communities in the US and around the world) by hosting local Sustainable Brands meet-ups which we could support with communication, educational content, speakers and so forth.
Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful.
One of the biggest strengths of Sustainable Brands is our team. The company founder, Koann Skrzyniarz is a former SVP at United Business Media, a multinational business to business media company where, during her 18 year career, she repeatedly launched and built multi-million dollar businesses very similar to the one currently being developed by SLM. She has a track record for having delivered the fastest revenue and margin growth rates at the company for 10 years in a row thanks to her passion for leading from purpose, and for driving continuous innovation in markets, business models and delivery mediums. Our team comes from five countries, and diverse fields, and yet we are united behind our pledge to drive the world toward a sustainable economy. 6 of our team have MBAs in sustainable business, each coming from a different discipline (brand management, energy, economics & policy, operations and business.) We have a sustainable design expert, a master's grad in integrated media marketing, and folks who have worked inside government and NGOS -- each bringing a different perspective and specialty -- and yet we move as a unit to turn continuous learning and into action. We are teachers, leaders, listeners, communicators, writers, marketing specialists, engagement experts, engineers, designers, sales professionals, logistics ninjas, and social media gurus, and we have come together to make a marked difference in the future. In addition to our immediate team, we have an actively engaged advisory board that includes top industry authors, thought leaders and practitioners from companies including many of those above and many others. And we have an amazing network of entrepreneurs, all of whom we engage with continuously to assist us in taking our mission forward.
Additional relevant information you would like to share.
We believe that business is best equipped to drive the innovation needed in the world in response to increasingly complex global environmental and social problems, and that brands are uniquely equipped to define and deliver value to society by creating cultural aspiration (demand), and by aligning business resources and value networks to effectively meet that demand. The successful, sustainable businesses of the future will recognize the needs of individuals and communities in addition to their direct financial stakeholders, and will work to reshape the future by recognizing, respecting and delighting all their stakeholders both today, and in the future. By seeking what is good for society as whole, they will win in the marketplace by capturing the hearts, and loyalty of their customers. We ask you to consider supporting our vision and early success and momentum by helping us invest into the demand we have created for more tools to help businesses drive the shift to a sustainable future.