so·cial en·tre·pre·neurs: people who establish an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems or effecting social change
These ten social entrepreneurs answered our questions on IdeaMensch and blew us away with their stories. Read more about their organizations and how they’re making our world a better place, one organization at a time.
Chandler Sterling, Founder and CEO of California Beard Company
What is California Beard Company?
Chandler became frustrated by the cosmetics industry after searching for a high-quality natural beard oil. The goal was to create something simple, only containing materials that came from the earth, that could mimic a product from the era before cosmetics were synthesized and contained potentially harmful chemicals. The result of this experiment led to California Beard Company’s Original Beard Oil recipe. For over a year, California Beard Company has been committed to planting 1 tree for every product sold. Efforts like these are how he ensures the corporation provides some good back to the world.
“[Practice] Self-discipline. It’s not a habit but a way of life. Own yourself and your actions and be mindful of your goals.”
Michele Liddle, Founder of The Perfect Granola
What is The Perfect Granola?
The Perfect Granola is a fast-growing granola and granola bar company that prides itself on creating a better world through food and love. The mission is to help others; they do this by sharing profits with homeless shelters, outreach centers, and Food Banks, and in 2017 alone, The Perfect Granola donated over 12,000 lbs. of granola and granola bars to support a 23-county region in Upstate New York. In addition, The Perfect Granola hires students living in poverty, to giving them real work experience before graduation so that they can break the cycle that fuels hunger.
“There are people who will boost you up and others who will tear you down; when you meet the later, move on. Surround yourself with those who bring you up and inspire you and don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help.”
Brianne Luginbill, Co-Founder of Better Body Image Conference
What is the Better Body Image Conference?
The whole premise of the Better Body Image Conference is to educate and prevent low self-esteem and body issues into becoming as extreme as eating disorders as well as depression/anxiety based on low self-worth. Brianne’s goal in founding Better Body Image Conference is to provide tools and local resources within her community to truly instill support and change within positive body image.
“Meet new people, all the time. It doesn’t have to be a networking event or a new work acquaintance. I absolutely love meeting new people, even at the grocery store…Get out and be friendly to everyone you may encounter.”
Danny LaFuente, Co-Founder of Simple Vodka
What is Simple Vodka?
Simple Vodka uses locally sourced Idaho potatoes in every bottle and aims to close the loop on hunger and food waste. By working directly with partners in the food supply chain – farmers, manufacturers, and retailers – hunger relief organizations can save the nutritious food from ending up in a landfill and divert it to someone in need. That’s where Simple Vodka comes in. With every bottle purchase, Simple Vodka provide 20 meals to those in need through direct support of the local and national hunger relief organizations.
“Start with the problem not the solution…Jumping to a solution can often lead to unnecessary widgets and in some cases just create new problems. Starting with the problem, and understanding the roots of it, helps you determine HOW to solve it or if a solution is even necessary.”
Erin Jackson, Founder of Inspire Santé
What is Inspire Santé?
Inspire Santé is a nonprofit dedicated to promoting awareness of pelvic pain disorders. Through the organization’s efforts, Erin empowers women to advocate for their own identities, bodies, and health. She suffered from pelvic pain for almost all of her twenties and was passed around from healthcare provider to provider. Nobody knew what to do with her, what was wrong, or how they could help. Once she recovered, Erin resolved to be the resource for other women suffering through that confusion and fear. That’s how Inspire Santé was born. It literally means to “inspire health,” which is the organization’s mission.
“Revisit [your] mission statement. I have a public-facing mission statement and an internal one. By reviewing them continuously, revising them continuously, and evaluating whether I’m living up to them continuously, I’m able to ensure that my work remains true to my organization’s goals.”
Christel Oerum, Founder of DiabetesStrong.com
What is DiabetesStrong.com?
Christel has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1997. She started Diabetes Strong because she struggled to find trustworthy and easily accessible online information about exercise and healthy nutrition when living with diabetes. Christel quickly realized that there was a great need in the diabetes community for this information so she decided to create a website where she could share her own advice and invite experts from the diabetes community to contribute.
“If you don’t know what to do, simply do SOMETHING! Don’t let your insecurities hold you back. The truth is that entrepreneurs have moments all the time where they don’t know what to do. The successful ones are the ones that act decisively anyway.”
Rob Sheppard, Founder of Ginseng English
What is Ginseng English?
Ginseng English is a mission-driven online English school committed to providing online English classes to students around the world, both those who can pay, and those who cannot. The internet allows Ginseng English to bring together people from different backgrounds and different geographic locations into the same class. Each additional student in a class can either be more money in the bank or a person in need getting classes they really need. Rob counts both of those outcomes as a win.
“We are witnessing the rapid death of the career as it was once defined… Now it’s normal, if not expected, to change jobs every few years. This is incredibly freeing for both the individual and industries. It allows us to explore different facets of our field and become far more well-rounded. Right now, we’re still young, the generation for whom this is the norm. I’m really excited to see what we will do when we’ve all got decades of experience jumping from job to job.”
Julie Palakovich Carr, CEO and Co-Founder of Victory Guide
What is Victory Guide?
Victory Guide is a political technology startup that helps candidates running for local, county, and state offices to win their campaigns using the Victory Guide digital campaign manager. Victory Guide was part of the inaugural cohort of Higher Ground Labs, a startup accelerator for tech companies that are building the next generation of campaign tools for progressives. It won the 2018 CampaignTech Award for best down ballot technology solution.
“Pursuing multiple passions isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. For my entire adult life, I’ve had multiple career interests… Society often tells young people that they should focus on one interest, I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had followed that advice. One endeavor has lead to the next and the next. And I wouldn’t have the skills to lead a startup without all of those prior life experiences.”
Brianne West, Founder and Formulator of Ethique
What is Ethique?
After learning that 80 billion bottles of shampoo and conditioner end up in landfills every year, Brianne started the world’s first zero plastic, zero waste beauty brand. She was frustrated with the disgraceful amount of packaging produced by the cosmetics industry. A qualified scientist, Brianne formulates all our products and runs the show. She has developed an entirely solid product range – from shampoo to moisturizer to sunless tanner to cleaning products – eliminating plastic bottles and plastic waste.
“Hire good people. I cannot say it enough. Yes, easier said than done, but the right hire can make or break a business. Hiring people who are cleverer than me and those with supplementary skills to mine. One person cannot do it all- it’s important to recognize this and embrace expertise around you.”
Jeff Proctor, Co-Founder of DollarSprout.com
What is DollarSprout.com?
DollarSprout.com is a personal finance website geared towards helping lower income individuals make smarter choices with their money. His company generates income primarily through sponsorships and affiliate marketing. The personal finance niche is one of the most saturated spaces in the blogging world, but Jeff noticed a gap in content that appeals to millennials who are struggling with money. There is plenty of content out there for people looking to reach financial independence or retire early, but there is not as much stuff for people just trying to get a solid footing in their finances. Those are the people that Jeff and his co-founder, Ben, really want to help.
“Anyone can be an entrepreneur. A lot of people think entrepreneurs are “special” or that you have to be super creative or have a unique idea to be one. But the truth is anyone can be an entrepreneur, and you DON’T need some grand unique idea that no one’s ever thought of. You just have to be willing to put in the work, to show up day after day and work harder than anyone else. That’s the stuff real entrepreneurs are made of.”
Are you a social entrepreneur? We want to hear your story.
Tell us about it at ideamensch.com/interview.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.