Rebecca Pontius – Co-founder of the Do Good Bus

[quote style=”boxed”]Take chances.  If you believe in your idea, big or small, go for it.  It’s scary to quit your job or go against the grain, but it is so unbelievably rewarding.[/quote]

Rebecca Pontius is co-founder of the Do Good Bus — a transportable community service venture based in Los Angeles, CA. Her background is in event planning and community based projects like LA Guerrilla Gardening and LA Field Day.  She’s worked all over the world including the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Hong Kong, and Toronto.  Her goals in business and in life are to create community, see it all and remind people to have fun.

What are you working on right now?

Days ago, we just finished a nationwide Do Good Bus tour with the band Foster The People.  We partnered with the band on their North American tour, stopping in each city to pick up 30 volunteers and whisk them away to a mystery volunteer activity in their community.  We visited over 20 causes and met over 750 volunteers across North America.  We are so proud of the massive community Foster The People fans and Do Good Bus supporters created over a 40 day whirlwind of fun.

Where did the idea for the Do Good Bus come from?

My business partner, Stephen Snedden and I have always volunteered at various organizations in Los Angeles.  In fact, we met each other volunteering.  After years of our friends asking, “How do you do it?  How do I get involved?” — we decided to put them all on a bus, keep the destination a secret and show them exactly how to get involved in their community.  After the success of our first trip with friends, we decided to branch out and share the experience with Los Angelinos.

What does your typical day look like?

During the planning stage of our most recent tour, my day looked like this:
5:30am Boot Camp (my only time to be active and not in front of the computer)
7:00am Shower and head to local coffee shop
Emails, phone calls, design work, fundraising, planning, planning, planning
Lunch if I remembered
Emails, phone calls, design work, fundraising, planning, planning, planning
6:00pm Glass(es) of wine
Emails, phone calls, design work, fundraising, planning, planning, planning
1:00am Try to quiet my brain so I can sleep
Rinse and repeat.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Persistence is the first word that comes to mind.  We had plans to secure a major sponsor for our national tour and about two weeks into that plan, I realized we didn’t have enough time.  We shifted gears immediately and put our faith into fans and supporters.  We had 3 weeks to raise $100,000 to get the bus on the road and there were a lot of people who doubted us.  Strangers, close friends, even people on our own team.  In the midst of other people’s doubt, I try to keep my vision on the step just past the final goal. This creates a laser focus and leaves no room for doubt.  For me, it’s also important to just take the first step.  In general, people get stuck in the planning stage and try to get all their ducks in a row before moving forward.  I tend to just take off running and hope my ducks will follow.  This doesn’t work for everyone, but it keeps projects exciting for me and allows me to make changes in real time as the project needs them.

3 trends that excite you?

Crowdfunding — I have to mention this because, without it, our latest project wouldn’t have happened.  Regardless, the concept inspires me.  If everyone gives a little….together, we can make big things happen.  I was amazed at how many people wrote to tell us how important they felt after giving just a $1.  They felt like part of our team.

Simple, clear advertising — I suppose this isn’t an official trend, but I’m a sucker for good advertising.  And the simpler the better.  Since day 1 of selling a product, advertisers have consistently tried new variations.  But, for me, clean, simple and clever always wins.  And I love buying products that sucker me in. It feels like I’m rewarding their marketing team for their brilliance.

Re-purposing — It’s great to see companies and individuals get creative when it comes to repurposing everything.  I’m blown away by what people are creating out of items in their garage.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked at a non-profit for 6 months and learned entirely too much about the dirty side of “doing good”.  I left the organization feeling a little jaded, but am happy to report I’ve seen enough good since then…I barely remember that place.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure I would change much.  Learning as I go has been a great experience.

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Take chances.  If you believe in your idea, big or small, go for it.  It’s scary to quit your job or go against the grain, but it is so unbelievably rewarding.

Tell us a secret…

I hardly ever enter even numbers on the microwave (:30, :60, etc).  I prefer to mix it up a little, use numbers that rarely get some love — :31, :47, etc.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Handwritten thank you cards.  Send these.  ALWAYS.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

White Boy Shuffle – Paul Beatty

I actually need to re-read this, but it’s a book about finding your way and owning it.  There’s a laugh or two as well.

If you weren’t working on Do Good Bus, what would you be doing?

Delivering flowers.  I’ve always wanted to do that.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

Due to the 140 character requirement, I believe Twitter is mostly about wit and cleverness.  And for me, it can be an exercise in writing.  Love it.

@carolynclark – She’s a reality TV editor in Los Angeles and a good friend.  Her posts are random and timely and she never ceases to make me laugh.
@AnimalsBeDicks — I use this for my daily laugh.  It’s amazing.
@deannarusso — I love a girl who doesn’t sensor for anyone or anything.

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

I laugh out loud quite a bit.  But the last time I laughed until my cheeks hurt was hanging out with my favorite 5 year old friend.  It’s so fun to watch kids come to realizations on their own and act like little 3ft adults.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Jack Dorsey.

What is something you learned from a previous job that has been beneficial in starting a company?

I’m surprised how much I learned from managers that I, at the time, was frustrated or disagreed with.  There are valuable business lessons to learn from talented business men and women who you may not agree with in the moment.


All things Do Good:

Rebecca Pontius Email: [email protected]
Do Good Bus on Twitter –
Do Good Bus on Facebook

Personal stress relief:

Rebecca Pontius Blog –