Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There's a great new product that we have at the Park Slope Food COOP. It's a chocolate called Madécasse. It has an awesome history, whereby one of my fellow NYU MBA alumni brought an idea to fruition. There's an annual Social Entrepreneurship competition at school, called the Satter Family Prize, and he and the co-founders have really helped revolutionize chocolate production for an increasing number of villagers in Madagascar. A snippet from the NYU site is below. I was moved by their story, and I'm extremely excited to see their products in the COOP. Additionally, NYU's focus on Social Entrepreneurship and helping incubate ideas such as this one continues to be inspiring.
From: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/berkley/bpc.cfm?doc_id=100263

Founders: Brian McCollum (MBA '07) and co-founders Brett Beach and Tim McCollum

Madécasse imports specialty food products grown and manufactured in Madagascar. Focused primarily on goods made from locally grown cocoa and vanilla beans, the group aims to bridge the gap between poverty and potential in emerging markets using Equitrade. A model that builds upon the Fair Trade concept, Equitrade requires both the farming and the manufacturing of products to be completed within the country of origin. Based on market trends showing that consumers are increasingly interested in a product origin and in purchasing goods from ethical and sustainable enterprises, Madécasse distributes their premium chocolate bars and other food products to retail outlets across the US.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Incredibly excited for the new logo. We're working hard on the Photos for Change launch, and everything is coming together. Jay and Jennifer have been a joy to work with over the past several months. It's nice to have taken an idea from the ground up, again. Having been here several years ago with Jenky Productions, this is a very different experience. It's nice having the background that business school has helped inform over the past several years. The purpose of the business and our goals are a lot clearer. As we look to the business plan competition quarter-final announcements tomorrow, it will be a good indication that there's merit in our idea, and that we're expressing ourselves well.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's been a lot of fun pursuing the MBA over the past couple years. The time commitment is intense on top of a full day at work, but the effort has introduced me to wonderful classmates and incredible business content.

Since the middle of the summer I have been teamed up with a couple Sternies on Photos for Change. We have been working from the business plan drawn up in Professor Kickul's Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship, and tapping others to help pull together what's going to be a strong run for the Satter Entrepreneurship prize in April.

With each week we're getting more and more of the foundation laid. This weekend was website refinement, picking collateral and design elements as well as preparing our upcoming commercial. More to follow!

An extra big thanks to Catherine from Global Goods Partners and Sara for sharing their Sunday afternoon with us!

Monday, July 05, 2010

In Macro Economics class we studied how Bogota's Rapid Transit System is drastically changing their future. It is helping move tremendous numbers of citizens, and converting commuting congestion into productivity. This isn't always the language used to describe the frustration and challenges of being stuck in rush hour; instead terms like road rage or anger are the ascribed sentiments. While it may not necessarily be a direct translation into productivity, even additional leisure time in the evening after work would be greatly appreciated. New York transit has been mired with budget challenges, increased ridership, and a seeming never ending attempt at Subway expansion. I for one was sad to see the congestion pricing fail for cars entering lower Manhattan. As an ardent proponent for public transportation, this plan would have been immensely successful in moving more people more quickly. Nevertheless, NY is getting its act together presently and adding new Select Bus Service routes. The initial results have been increased ridership and a whopping 98% satisfaction with the offering. NY Magazine has a really nice write-up on the upcoming enhancements.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

With some regularity, we, meaning my company and I, have been discussing diction. Good words are not hard to come by, although, using them appropriately can be a challenge. Bequeath for example is not merely to pass along possessions, rather it only applies in posthumous circumstances. Entitled carries many different meanings; however, there is some debate that a thing is actually entitled -- whereas it is in fact titled. A former colleague was recently sharing how my generation has a vocabulary somewhere in the range of 12-18K words on average, whereas those before us are north of 20K and potentially as high as 30K. Bearing that in mind, I asked how one could go about testing one's diction, and she suggested simply reading. The New Yorker is always good for a challenge as can the Economist.

Today being Independence Day, there are a lot of articles circulating about the Declaration of Independence. It's been a while since I have read it, and perusing it (an often misused word in and of itself), I was pleased to see such words as usurpations, inestimable, and consanguinity. Where would one go to test their diction for breadth?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just finished a talk by Paul Herman, CEO of HIP Investor -- Human Impact + Profit. They've got a really great methodology for evaluating the following three questions:
  • What human problem does this solve?

  • How do you design for both Human Impact + Profit?

  • What management practices are in place to be HIP?

There's a good write-up of his trip to Kenan Flagler business school at the University of North Carolina on the energy collective.

Not surprisingly many companies in the S&P 100 do not rank too highly, and there were some ringers near the top of the list which I would not have suspected. I look forward to getting into the book, HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Green Spaces threw a fantastic party Friday night bringing SalonEco to life. Nice running into some familiar faces as well as meet some new ambitious folks. I met some fellow NYU students and learned of a great new social venture they've started. Love Kitchen Bakery is bringing baked goods directly to you with a social mission: "It is not just about the cakes. It is about giving someone a second chance."

Really nice to hear undergraduates debating the egoism versus altruism merits of working in non-profits. It brings me back to very familiar territory. Ultimately, doing good takes first billing and our motivations and experience of it come next. Does the primacy therefore gloss it as altruism?

Thanks again Rachel for the article on Goldman and bubble creation. Our discussion of non-profits versus banking then focusing on charitable works took a different direction after citing this article. When thinking about 'cashing in' it's important to consider where the money comes from and the 'externalities' of those efforts. A paycheck and stuffed bank account is not sufficient to excuse immoral outcomes.