While we have heard many commitments coming from Rio+20 from companies that want to do more good, we have heard very little on how to get customers to choose companies that choose good. Companies (individually and collectively) as well as researchers in the academia have continuously tried to find effective ways to encourage consumers to change their behavior and get greener, but very few have succeeded so far. The latest attempt is coming from a new initiative, eGood, which offers consumers an easy way to do good and make a difference with their wallets, without spending even one extra cent.
The idea behind eGood is very simple. It creates a platform (online and mobile) that helps consumers find businesses in their area that will give 3-10 percent of what they spend there to important causes. eGood offers businesses who commit to giving at least 3 percent of their revenues a loyal customer base. On the flip side, eGood offers consumers the chance to shift the money they already spend to businesses that do good. In other words, this is a win-win offer, or as eGood’s founder Zack Swire puts it, eGood is a movement that challenges businesses to give back at least 3 percent to causes they care about. When they do, we all win.
The main question is whether consumers will go for it. To figure that out as well as other questions about eGood I gave Zack a call.
Triple Pundit: What inspired you to launch eGood?
Zack Swire: I saw a gap that needed filling. There wasn’t a simple way for people in a community to connect with businesses and challenge them to give back to a greater good. It may sound cheesy, but the name came to me in a dream (and I don’t remember my dreams normally) while on a work trip in late 2010. I woke up, went for a run, and this thought of creating real-time connections that benefit all started coming together. It wasn’t until a few months later, when I told others on my team and saw they loved the idea that I decided to move eGood forward. After all, I was busy running SWIRE, a young ad agency and it sounded a bit crazy to launch a social good tech startup. And, it was a bit crazy to me personally as I’m married and our triplets were 3 years old at the time. But, I felt an urge to do more. And, to put it as Simon Mainwaring discusses in “We First,” create both profit and purpose.
3p: Are there any similar initiatives going on right now?
ZS: Before we started, we explored. We found a number of amazing social good companies and lots of great business and consumer tools, but we didn’t find one that created a complete solution in the manner we were setting out to do. We found many simple apps that did very cool things. We also found a number of social good sites that seemed short-lived and have since died off. We like sites like Crowdrise, Causecast, One.org, DoSomething.org, Square, Foursquare, Mint.com, and many others. Some have elements of what eGood does, but none have the solution we’re building as our vision is in building a platform, not just an app. One that has clear benefits for all users involved – for the community, for the causes and for the participating businesses.
3p: Can you tell us a little bit where eGood stands today?
ZS: We’re in the middle of alpha testing (at a local coffee shop in our town, Classic Coffee) on the in-store portion and completing initial development on the website and mobile app. We hope to open Beta within a couple months. Our early testing is already proving a key question behind our concept, which is very exciting.
3p: Did you start engaging businesses? Is it difficult to convince them to join the program?
ZS: We’ve spoken with small local businesses, regional chains such as Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, and large national companies. All have been quite intrigued and we’ll be following up to invite them to our Beta test. At the Sustainable Brands conference, we met companies like Chipotle, Timberland, Zipcar, Hurley, Quicksilver, Coca-Cola and many others. We shared where eGood stands today and we hope to have some of them will be early testers.
3p: How about consumers? How difficult you think it be to get them on board?
ZS: From Cone’s research, we know that 93% of consumers would buy a product associated with a cause and 65% have already purchased a cause-related product in the last 12 months. We know that it’s not an end-all/be-all decision making factor, but it is important to people, much more so than companies realize. By equipping consumers with the knowledge and tools to choose good, we see that it’s quite simple for their everyday actions to help create extraordinary change.
3p: What are your goals for the next year or two?
ZS: First, we’d like to get through our invite-only Beta launch and work out the kinks that are inevitable in any new platform. We hope to wrap this up by mid to late 2012. As we go into 2013, we would like have passed our full Beta release for the general public and be rolling out new features. There are some awesome features in the works, but we can’t mention them quite yet :)
We’re excited to meet with both companies and causes and are presently setting up Beta test partners. We invite TriplePundit readers to contact us to learn more and join us in our beta release. They can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out via any of our social pages found at http://www.egood.com.
Image credit: eGood
Raz Godelnik is the co-founder of Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry in the digital age. He is an adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware’s Business School, CUNY and the New School, teaching courses in green business and new product development.