Archive for Social Entrepreneur

Té Amo – The Drink That Loves You Back

Grove City College prides itself on faith, freedom, and its entrepreneurship department (amongst other things). One of the fruits of the department is the amazing Mark Sotomayor. I knew Mark when he still went here. He transferred out a couple of months ago to focus on a business idea he had–a company that sells tea and uses its profits to help plant trees. In fact, they plant one free tree for every bottle sold. That’s good for the planet and for your tastebuds!

The business is called Té Amo. I love the name because “te amo” is Spanish for, “I love you,” and thus expresses the social good aspect of the business. Also, it’s a pun because “té” with the accent means tea in Spanish. The recipe was developed by his grandmother and was brought over to the United States when his parents moved here. Now he wants to share this delicious nectar with the world.

I asked Mark what the best and worst thing about being an entrepreneur was and replied:

“Being an entrepreneur is like a heartbeat, there are ups and there are downs but you must keep pumping. If you stop, you (your business) die.”

I think that statement is a great overview of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. There is such a positive social benefit involved, as well as a pleasant drinking experience, why would you not want to get involved? If you are interested in checking out his progress or buying his product, check out the link below!

https://www.buyateaplantatree.com/

 

SocialTables

Here’s a bit of a paradox for you: as the world seems to grow increasingly smaller through the use of communications technology  and we have an unprecedented level of access into each other’s personal lives through social media, we still somehow manage to feel alone. And, even as the internet becomes an increasingly viable way of forging interpersonal connections (leading the average Joe to spend an ever-growing amount of time online seeking to network), it seems that the real movers and shakers of society (corporate employers, innovators, politicians…) seem to be abandoning the online scene in favor of face-to-face networking events and social solutions. You see, it seems that the people at the top have realized something that the rest of us are only just starting to comprehend: real relationships happen in real spaces, in the places where we meet face-to-face, person-to-person.

Our generation is slowly coming to realize that, convenient as social media might be, it can’t replace actual interactions. And in an increasingly competitive market, those moments of interpersonal communication are more important than ever: it is important to get them right.

SocialTables is committed to helping their clients get it right. Whether you are planning a wedding, networking event, fundraiser, or corporate mixer, Social Tables is there to see you through each step of the event planning process to ensure that your guests won’t regret leaving the chat rooms behind. Since 2011, the company has helped plan more than 8,000 meetings and events in the Washington, D.C. area. With a staff of event planners and social scientists ready to hand, they help you map the venue, create digital mock-ups of the space, manage invitations,  RSVPs, and check-ins, and even create seating plans based on common interests or professional fields to ensure that your guests get the most out of the experience.

The founders recognize that social interactions not only meet a need for interpersonal contact, but are also the birthplace of great ideas, collaborations, and meaningful relationships. Thus, it is important that we get them right. The goal of SocialTables is simply to help you and your guests meet your goals. Maybe you just want to throw a party to show your guests a good time; or maybe you hope to bring great minds together in a collaborative social setting; maybe you just need to make sure that your next big meeting goes off without a hitch… Whatever you have in mind, SocialTables is there not only to help you iron out the logistics of your even, but also to help you create an electric social environment.

Koofers

In the 21st century, more than ever before, a college education is the single most important step young Americans can take towards securing a prosperous and stable future. Unfortunately, the cost of higher education is going nowhere but up: while many Americans have been saving for their education since birth, very few of us will be able to come up with the nearly $100,000 check needed to see us across the stage. And even if we are able to make up the difference through loans, scholarships, and grants, there is very little aid available to help cover the costs needed for success: many of us may find ourselves working several jobs just to cover the cost of textbooks, study materials, and practice exams, putting us even further away from paying off our debts and cashing in on the security our education promises.

That’s where Koofers comes into play: in 2008, Glynn LoPresti, Patrick Gartlan, and Dan Donahoe – three young professionals with background in Computer Science and Finance – decided enough was enough and set out to find a way to lighten the financial burden of College education. But while others before them had looked at the problem through the lens of tuition and enrollment fees, the founders of Koofers saw an unmet although equally daunting need: the miscellaneous cost of success. It’s all well and good to provide the financial support necessary to get students into college, but what about their needs once they are there? We’re all students, so none of us need to be told about the stress of trying to find the necessary funds to keep ourselves in books and school supplies. It’s really hard to be successful in school if you are working 60 hours a week just to pay for the tools you need to keep you in school!

Koofers provides students with FREE access to those tools. It is a consumer internet platform that provides access to testbanks, practice exams, professor rating data, flashcards, and scheduling software at absolutely no cost to the students who use it. It is funded through textbook sales and commissions from employers looking to hire students so that those who already struggle to make ends meet to cover tuition won’t find themselves struggling to keep their grades up because they can’t afford study tools. It is a free one-stop-shop that offers students the needed resources to not only get them into school, but also to see them through to graduation.

The site also offers an “enterprise Campus Recruiting solution” that connects employers and recruiting firms with students looking for internships and full-time work opportunities. By charging prospective employers for the use of this system, Koofers is able to offer a wide variety of services to students free of charge! The recruiting program also ensures that the students working so hard to put themselves through school don’t see all that effort go to waste: through Koofers, students are not only supported through their schools years, but are also given access to a community of professionals and employers eager to help them put their education to work!

Founded and run by recent college grads, Koofers understands that college acceptance and tuition is just the first step in the uphill financial battle that so many Americans face in trying to procure and education. If tuition is the canoe, then school supplies are the paddle: without one, the other is useless. While federal grant programs, trusts, and loan programs get students on board, only Koofers provides them with the tools they need to navigate their way towards a brighter future!

Jack Kim- Benelab Search Engine

Jack Kim is a young entrepreneur that is still in high school in Seattle. He is the founder of a search engine called Benelab that is designed to make philanthropy easier by generating donations. Jack’s project is not-for-profit and he plans to donate all of the revenue generated by Benelab. Jack quickly learned the power of a search engine’s ability to generate wealth from very little traffic through his work with search engines in the past. After developing an outline for his idea, Jack got a team of his high school classmates together to start working on the project. So far, Benelab has been incredibly successful at generating wealth, and all of this wealth is then donated to different charities and organizations to help the less fortunate. Benelab provides an easy yet effective way of enabling everday internet users to participate in philanthropy, even if they do not realize it.

“Many people think of charity as something limited to the rich or “good”, but in reality it’s something that can and should be incorporated into anyone’s daily life – you just have to know how.” – Jack Kim

Restoration Apparel Co: Michael Mitchell

Image result for Restoration Apparel Co. // Michael MitchellImage result for Restoration Apparel Co. // Michael Mitchell

Today we live in a world where the apparel industry is more prevalent than ever. The rise in fashion has made it so that you could purchase a shirt anywhere from $10 to $1000 and the market just keeps expanding. In order to supply the heavy demand placed on clothing, the apparel industry employs many people from every corner of the world.

However, many of these workers, especially in third world countries, are being paid extremely low wages.On average, only 2.5% of the wholesale price of apparel goes to all workers who construct the  products in the developing world.

Michael recognized the exploitation that occured so frequently in this industry and decided to act on his compassion for these people. Michael along with others started a company called Restoration Apparel Co. Restoration Apparel Co. strives to lift the lives of workers and restore dignity to the apparel manufacturing industry through living wage job creation and its Wage Restitution Allowance give-back program. It offers factory direct access to dye sublimated, screen printed, and embroidered sportswear while providing its customers peace-of-mind regarding the production of their products.

I admire this entrepreneur for his compassion and selfless heart. And unlike so many other people, this entrepreneur chose to act on his compassion by supplying a better paying job for people who are stuck in their poverty.

Gladiator Lacrosse

Rachel Zietz is the founder of Gladiator Lacrosse, a high quality sports training equipment line at an affordable price.

She was inspired to start this company when her coach told her she needed to work on her skills outside of practice. Without the proper equipment and resources to practice, Rachel found herself at a disadvantage compared to the other athletes. She struggled to find affordable, durable equipment that would allow her to even play the simple game of “wall ball.” Rachel then participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Program (co-sponsored by Florida Atlantic University and Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce). This program gave her the idea to solve her problem by creating Gladiator Lacrosse.

Rachel is a sophomore in High School and she has already accomplished a vast amount of success in the Lacrosse equipment industry. Her drive and creativity will allow her to achieve greatness throughout her life.

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http://www.gladiatorlacrosse.com

 

Ten year old Girl Makes Heartfelt Impact

Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer is a ten-year-old from Duncannon, Pennsylvania. She was born missing half of her heart, and her twin brother, Rory, passed away before the two could ever meet. She underwent major open heart surgery shortly after birth and has since then undergone 21 medical procedures including three open heart surgeries.

After her third open heart surgery, Lorelei’s lungs collapsed and she underwent a long grueling recovery where she was given a compression heart pillow to relieve the pain… but the pillow was much to big for a girl like herself. This made her think… why aren’t their smaller compression heart pillows made for children? So then at the age of 5 her mother taught her to sew and she began making compression heart pillows for pediatric open heart patients, aiding them in their own recovery’s. She named her organization Heart Hugs, and it spread like wildfire!

Heart Hugs works with children’s hospitals, orphanages and families to provide these pillows at no cost for patients and families through the kindness of volunteers around the world that help Lorelei ensure that no child is turned away. Her non-profit organization has only been the start of her work as she helps her brother Cavan, the 2015 Army Military Child of the Year, manage Socks for Vets, which provides goods for veterans and helped to train and care fore goats used in providing service support to wounded warriors.

Lorelei has been nationally recognized, receiving recognition from the Points of Light Foundation, the Maryland Volunteerism Award, and being featured on Dr. Oz show in 2015. She is affiliated with many organizations, including 4-H where she was recognized in 2016 and 2017, where I was lucky enough to meet her in person at multiple state conferences. Lorelei is not even thinking about slowing down. As she explained, “I am missing half of my heart, and people sometimes think I can’t do anything, but I can.” And she does.

https://www.facebook.com/CHDHeartHugs

Nanoly and Enplug – Culture in Business

Nanxi Liu grew up in a situation not typically considered conducive to innovation. After spending most of the first five years of her life without her parents in China, she could move to the United States and reunite with them. When it was time for her to go to college, she got into UC Berkeley and payed her way through doing odd jobs. After meeting a talented biochemist at a bar, she started Nanoly Bioscience, a company with a patented polymer for preserving vaccines without refrigeration.

Nanoly is built around the idea that many people cannot get vaccines because of environmental factors causing the proteins that make the vaccine work to become inactive. The polymer they developed is a sort of protective shell that functionally replaces a refrigerator. For this work, Nanoly earned many awards for social technological change, including Intel’s Top Social Innovation, Dell’s Global Social Innovation Challenge Award, and a Tech Award in 2014 for Young Innovators.

Social and technological change marry perfectly in this startup. While innovation is often thought of in the terms of apps or software, bringing about powerful social change is just as revolutionary. While the technology used is advanced and definitely a breakthrough, without a use that people care about, in this case a social use, it is simply another type of plastic. Because of this merging, Nanoly was able to make the world better.

Building upon this success, Liu more recently started Enplug, a technology/software business with a product that harnesses digital screens to allows users to link, control, manipulate, and post to any digital screen instantly. Plugging into any HD screen, the technology allows the user to display social media, presentations, news, or virtually anything. They also developed a software development kit, which allows experienced users to create their own apps to link to the technology.

The most innovative aspect of Enplug is the culture of the business. Over ten of the roughly 40 employees share a single house. This not only fosters a strong bond of cooperation in the employees, it also serves to bring innovation into everyday life and everyday life into the business world. Of course, it also saves money. This choice to treat a business almost as family is a demonstration of the innovative thinking that Liu brings to her businesses. Whether Nanoly or Enplug, Liu has a capacity for being intentional in the way a business is being run, instead of simply inventing a breakthrough product.

Alley Cat Designs

Jewelry for the Purrr-fect Touch

When Alyssa was a little girl, she always looked forward to the special times when her grandmother would visit, bringing with her a bag stuffed full of art and craft supplies. Alyssa was creative by nature, so it never mattered much to her what was in the bag – it was all about the joy and excitement of creating something new, something beautiful, something that hadn’t been there before.

It was during one of these afternoons with her Grandmother that Alyssa first discovered her love for jewelry making.  On that particular afternoon, the craft bag was full of beads, string and jewelry wire, and as the two sat making Christmas presents for her mother, a new passion was born.

From that day forward, Alyssa wanted to do more than just make beautiful new things. She wanted to make things that made other people feel beautiful. Alyssa had always found joy helping other people feel as beautiful as they always were in her eyes, and with her grandmother’s beads in her hands, she realized that she now had the tools to do just that: make things that could help women see just how beautiful they really were. And she was right – ever since clasping that first bracelet of plastic beads around her mother’s wrist, Alyssa has been designing the type of jewelry that makes the wearer feel beautiful and which reminds everyone that it is the bird that makes the feathers.

Today, Alyssa is fresh out of Cornell University with degrees in Business and Sociology and is working to launch her jewelry company, Ally Cat Designs . What began as the passion project of a little girl in love with all things beautiful has grown into a business which has inspired and empowered women all across the globe. Alyssa spends as much time traveling as she possibly can, drawing inspiration from women around the world. Along the way, she supports local artisans by collecting materials to incorporate into her jewelry, all of which is utterly unique and designed around the women who inspire her.

Alyssa prides herself on not being limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, she has something for everyone: from classic to edgy, minimalistic to romantic, each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, made to reflect the individual beauty of every customer. Her designs also reflect her commitment to sustainability and accessibility. Fast fashion this is not! Each of her piece features timeless style and is made to last.  But rather than using rare metals which are expensive and easily broken, Alyssa carefully selects materials which are more widely available and which stand the test of time. Great thought is put into each and every element of the design process so that each piece tells a story.

Alyssa likes to keep things personal; for her, it’s all about relationships. She is dedicated to her clients and designs with them in mind. Her favorite method of sales is house shows: by bringing clients together in an intimate environment, she gets to meet and be inspired by the women she serves. She mingles among her clients, getting to know them and helping them find that perfect piece. And if you come back to a second show, she is likely to pull you aside to show you something special she designed with you especially in mind!

As her business has grown, she has also adapted her model to meet the needs of a wider audience and has launched a website to make her work more widely available. But even with her expanding platform, Alyssa has sacrificed neither style nor substance. She still makes each piece by hand and each is one of a kind!

Down the road, Alyssa hopes to use her business as a platform from which to support other artists and to promote ethically sourced fashion. She is also passionate about social and economic development in impoverished nations. Having traveled extensively in both South Asia and Africa, Alyssa is committed to building supportive relationships with artists across the globe and using her work to empower and give back to women both at home and abroad.

It has been my great privilege to watch my dear friend Alyssa build and expand her business over the years, and I am so excited to share her story with you. Her’s is truly a project driven by a selfless passion to serve the women of the world, and the more her business grows, the more lives she touches. She doesn’t create jewelry for women to hide their insecurities behind; instead, she creates pieces that tell a story and celebrate the unique beauty of every woman.

Penny for Your Thoughts? Fighting Trafficking One Cent at a Time.

One penny may not buy a whole lot, but for Kendall Altmyer it is the key to a successful business.

After working with human trafficking survivors for three months in Greece, Kendall Altmyer knew she wanted to join the global fight against human trafficking. “I didn’t think I could make a dent in a worldwide injustice,” she confessed, “but doing nothing was not an option.” Using the resources and knowledge she had available to her, Altmyer created The Penny Story.

The Penny Story is an e-commerce store that sells small goods made from pennies. Some of her products include bracelets, key rings, and a “welcome box” with a variety of Penny goods. Each penny has the word “worthy” stamped into it, making a bold statement: it is not our material wealth that defines us, but our mere being, because we are children of God. This truth applies to those who are trapped in human trafficking, even though the world may tell them otherwise.

I admire Altmyer’s honesty. The quote above was found directly on her website, letting all viewers know that she doesn’t have everything figured out. This reality applies to all of us; as much as we’d like to learn everything there is about starting a business or making a difference, we simply can’t. But that didn’t stop Altmyer. She is now selling thousands of penny bracelets, and funding one of our country’s leading anti-human trafficking organizations, A21.

How did she manage this? By doing something. Altmyer explains that change begins by realizing you don’t have to be significant to make a significant change. This makes me wonder: if everyone had this mindset, how much more would we create? How much more would we be willing to put ourselves out there and strive to make a difference, even though we don’t have all the answers? I think the effect could be tremendous.

The product itself is beautifully simple, and The Penny Story’s website reflects that.  Altmyer offers only a few products, each one simple. The result of this is that customers don’t get caught up in the variety of stuff sold. Rather, they can see a clear mission through a few appropriate items.

I always appreciate seeing an individual who takes what he or she is passionate about and mixes it with innovation to create something new and effective. Altmyer has done this with The Penny Story, and she has created an outstanding example for young entrepreneurs who know they want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t be afraid to make a move – it’s common cents!