4 Startups Doing Social Good

June 24, 2012

12:00 pm

Recently Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author of The Tipping Point and Blink, made the claim that history’s greatest entrepreneurs are amoral.  When confronted with a decision between what was best for the health of their business and what was most ethical, Gladwell believes, entrepreneurs have empirically favored the former.

It’s hard to argue with his case.  The bottom line doesn’t factor benevolence.  And although most consumers wouldn’t knowingly support a business with faulty morals, without the information omnipresence that is the Internet, shady practices could stay in the dark.

Not any longer.

Today, through social media and social news websites, business practices are seen through glass walls.  People buy Toms in droves while condemning Nike.  Not only does the bad get punished, but the good is rewarded.  Today we want to shine light on 4 startups that are promoting this social good.

1) KULA Causes

The average consumer has 14 loyalty memberships, but hasn’t used 8 of them in over a year.  The total value of these unused loyalty points each year is 16 trillion dollars. Boulder, CO-based KULA Causes allows you to turn these unused loyalty points into credits which can then be donated to your favorite charities and non-profits.  In other words, you can do profound social good with your waste.  A no-brainer.

2) Roozt

A shopping mall of social good – this is the basic premise behind Roozt, the Los Angeles-based retail curator.  Billed as “the world’s marketplace for cause brands,” Roozt allows users to search for goods by cause, region of impact, or product category – and does so with an impressive attention to detail and design.  Facing insolvency, company CEO and founder Brent Freeman turned down a $1 million round of financing as investors wanted to restructure Roozt’s profit model and compromise company values.

3) SummerQAmp

SummerQAmp is a nationwide initiative to train a new workforce in high-tech skills and help create tech jobs for students who haven’t received formal technical training.  The initiative is being led by former White House CTO Aneesh Chopra, musician Jon Bon Jovi, GroupMe co-founder Steve Martocci, Gilt Groupe’s VP of quality engineering Kevin Haggard and Onswipe’s CEO Jason Baptiste.  The initiative hopes to create more than 1,000 internships during the summer.

4) NextDrop

Imagine turning on the pump and seeing no water flow.  Instead, you spend hours waiting for it to be turned on so your family doesn’t go thirsty.  This is normal for millions of households in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, reports NextDrop.  This San Diego startup sends text messages to locals in Hubli, India, alerting them 30-60 minutes before the pipes are opened. NextDrop is working to revolutionize water systems for the hundreds of millions of people who live with the daily stress of uncertain water supply.


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When Zach Davis isn't getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail's Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.