Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Harvard iLab Team Launches App for Socially Responsible Shopping

Green Spotlight on: DoneGood, by HEEC Vice President Lacey Klingensmith

We recently sat down with Scott Jacobsen, one of the co-founders of DoneGood, which launched out of the Harvard iLab Venture Incubation Program. DoneGood is an app for socially responsible shopping that makes it easy to find businesses that share your values while raising money for local causes.

HEEC: When did sustainability become an important issue for you and why?

Scott: Before coming to Harvard, I was working for the Children's Defense Fund, a child advocacy group in Washington, D.C.  At my favorite sandwich shop, they would always put things in plastic to-go containers and there was no recycling, which really bothered me. I talked to the owner about this several times, but nothing was ever done, so one day my colleagues and I were going to make signs and picket outside of the restaurant...but then I got to talking with my co-founder Colin, who was also frustrated by the lack of transparency around sourcing of clothes, and we started to wonder: why is it so difficult to find businesses that share our values? Maybe there is a better way than picketing…

HEEC: How did DoneGood initially get started, and what makes it unique?  

Scott: My co-founder Colin and I talked about creating a place for people to go and easily find products and services that aligned with their values, but we both had full time jobs and didn't have relevant experience. We started asking ourselves some questions like how do you know if a place is really doing good, and not just greenwashing? So we talked to a lot of business owners and discovered that there are many organizations out there doing great work, but consumers may not know about it because these organizations don’t have the channel to communicate to the motivated base of consumers who would value their sustainability efforts and be willing to spend 10-20% more on products that are sourced locally and made fairly. What we uniquely offer is bringing together all of this information into one resource that helps consumers find and support their local good businesses.

HEEC: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a venture startup, and do you have any advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs?

Scott: I used to make good money and could go out to eat whenever I wanted, but I can’t afford to anymore, and that's OK. I’m house sitting in order to live in a place for free. You have to be willing to put your creature comforts aside and invest your money in growing the company. My advice is to never give up. Hussle. Push through walls because there will be hard times but you've got to keep pressing forward.

HEEC: What’s your vision of an awesome, sustainable future?

Scott: I would like a sustainable future in which everywhere you go, there are options that are very clear and transparent to help you make good choices!

Learn more and download the app at http://www.donegood.co/

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