Today's Show Links
In 1999, newlyweds Jennifer Melton and Brennan Johnson could not find food for their newly adopted allergy-prone pound puppy, Samantha. After unsuccessfully trying many commercially available treats, Melton began making Samantha's treats at home. She called them Buddy Biscuits. Melton then began baking more treats for animal shelter bake sales. The response from consumers led to San Luis Obispo, CA based Cloud Star (http://cloudstar.com) which now makes and markets all sorts of natural pet products.
Shortly after the company's launch, the couple began donating some of their products to the 20 neediest animal shelters in their area. The phone began ringing off the hook with people wondering why they saw Cloud Star products in shelters and not stores. Then retailers started calling too. That is when Melton and Johnson decided their policy was also good marketing strategy. They added 30 more shelters to their donation list. After the increase in donations, pet shops and health food stores began devoting more shelf space to the home-grown brand and Cloud Star's annual sales increased 50% to $4.5 million in 2003 and the increased shelf space is providing the company with an opportunity for product expansion.
CloudStar's success shows that giving some of your products or services to a worthy cause or charity where they can be seen or sampled by consumers or clients simply makes good sense in more ways than one.
The label's designer shares the profits with The Salvation Army 50/50 - hence the name. The Salvation Army provides 50/50 with the blankets, curtains and dungarees and 50/50 turns them into skirts, pants and belts that eventually show up on store racks.
Indeed, 50/50 is now sold alongside well-known international brands in Amsterdam's most popular department store, with prices ranging from $40 for a pair of gloves to over $100 for a coat. Each item comes with a flyer outlining the Salvation Army's message: people need each other and nobody should be excluded from society. The hip vintage look appeals to young people with a healthy social awareness.
The concept is working so well, The Salvation Army is considering expanding its collection into other areas, like furniture.
Also from Holand, Dakloos.nl raises funds to eradicate homelessness in The Netherlands and around the world. The website is a full fledged accommodation booking site, with 5500 hotels world-wide. Customers get low Internet rates, while Dakloos, the Dutch word for homeless, donates 3% of revenues to the homeless in Amsterdam. In the company's own words: "You will spend your night in a good hotel, while helping a homeless person to spend a night off the street, without any extra costs or trouble."
CloudStar, 50/50 and Dakloos should get any entrepreneurs mind's buzzing. Why not find a way to donate some of your products to a worthy cause to gain exposure from potential customers and potentially a ton of positive publicity to boot, like CloudStar. Or partner with a charitable organization and split the profits like 50/50. Or you can simply donate a portion of your profits to a good cause as does Dakloos. There's enough here to inspire any small or home based business to creatively generate some intriguing ideas. Something similar to 50/50 would be excellent as a small business idea for women with an interest in fashion.
So are you passionate about a particular cause? Spend some time thinking about how you can use the examples above to make things better for others with your own products or services. You'll make a world of difference and make more money too.