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Green start-ups and social entrepreneurship are really picking up momentum. After covering TOP 5 green start-ups from London & Paris, we were surprised to know so much is happening all over Europe in the green tech & start-up space. In Oxford for example, they held a green car exhibition week #testdrivethefuture hosting green cars from various brands. Then the Mayor Of London has a Low Carbon Entrepreneurs accelerator prize to select colleges to kickstart ideas in green space.

Besides this we have become a green product hunt site of sorts too introducing to you brands in green space – from ecofashion, sustainable lifestyle to even products that help monitor pollution – from the air around us to in our foods.

So we thought, why not approach some of the founders of brand we have already covered and seek from them advice & insights to help other entrepreneurs with green vision. So here’s our first series from the founder of Hamilton Perkins travel accessories we covered recently here. His collection of cool travel bags made from recycled plastics pre-sold out even before the launch of his crowdfunding campaign!

 

Take your start-up off the ground – Hamilton Perkins explains how

Hamilton Perkins is the founder and President of Hamilton Perkins Collection, a certified B Corporation, offering designer travel bags at an affordable price, while holding the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Prior to starting Hamilton Perkins Collection, Hamilton was an Analyst at Bank of America advising companies with revenues between $5 million and $50 million. He has also served in a leadership capacity with various non-profit organizations and has been recognized for his volunteer work and service hours assisting low-income populations. He is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a degree in Business Administration and he earned his M.B.A. from William and Mary.

For those who already have a green vision in mind, and are working on a business plan and perhaps even have a working version of their product or service, here’s what his key insights are:

 

3 Ways To Grow: Advice For Green Entrepreneurs

1. Don’t fall in love with your idea – be practical

(i) Just because a company focuses on environmental and social problems does not mean that customers will automatically be attracted to that company’s product or service and open their checkbook. So spend time refining value propositions.

  • To begin with clearly define what problem(s) are you trying/aiming to solve.
  • Define how you want to communicate this story to end consumers.  The market may not be aware of your value.  For this reason you will have to use creativity to communicate your core values and ethos effectively.

(ii) Even though it is 2016 and the world has become more open to mission driven companies, there will be naysayers as well as those who don’t fully understand the value you bring.  This is good for you as an entrepreneur because this is the work that you sign up for.  You will also still have to overcome the basic entrepreneurial entry level barriers.  Make decisions on your operating model that take into account society and the environment, combine this with your strategic marketing plan.

Understand what value you can provide and spend time turning the problems you wish to solve into your value propositions / branding. You will have to storytell and give as much value to customers or clients as you can without any expectation in return.

(iii) Survey, research, compare: To be very practical use Amazon.com product reviews from your category or industry for physical product comparisons and find the limitations or pain points that users are already expressing.  Survey someone that has purchased a product similar to yours and learn what could make it better.  Use these activities to form your copywriting direction.

 

2. Clarify your channels – Consider how will you start the conversation

Is it blogging, PR, viral, Facebook Ads, trade-shows, etc. that will help you position your company and mission in the optimal way?  The only way to find out is to test.

(i) Let data help you make informed decisions & proceed to iterate on a regular basis.  Find out what resonates with your customer and where their attention is. If you are just starting out spend approximately 30% of your time creating your content and the rest of the time testing and iterating.

(ii) Put the work in to find the warmest leads and reactions, it will enhance your experience you provide to your customers.  Remember to be deliberate as you build your brand architecture so that you can answer as many questions on the front end allowing more time to deepen the relationship with your customer.

(iii) Use a channel that is consistent with your company’s objectives for making a difference. Additionally Reddit, Medium, and Quora are great communities to engage in and to formalize a prospective customer profile around that might be a good fit for your company.  Start your analysis with a product category or industry and try to narrow down the 2-3 problem themes that you are the best person or group of people in the world equipped to solve and address the issues. Break down a big issue into smaller manageable projects. A practical tip is to expose relevant influencers to your work and purpose by reaching out to them directly.

 

3. Spend most of your time collecting new customers

Try not to fall in love with how you think your business should be run based on everything you have seen in your life up to this point versus what the current market conditions are for socially responsible companies. This means don’t spend time on things that don’t matter because it is what most people outside of your business think is how you spend your time.

  • Become a media company first and then move ahead with what ever it is you sell or do.
  • Tailor your content to the every platform you share your story on.

Think broadly about how your thesis is making an impact, make yourself available for talks, interviews, and writing opportunities. Bring value in addition to the widget you make but do not preach down to your audience. Instead lift them up and show them why your product or service is a smart choice for the usual utility reasons and beyond.

 

So dear readers that were some very clear & crisp pointers from Hamilton. And it’s never too late to review your plan along some of the points mentioned by him as in any startup we are always re-looking, reviewing and realigning our course.

For more social entrepreneurship advice or specific growth questions that you may want to ask Hamilton, sign up their newsletter and reply with your question to the confirmation email here.

For questions that you may have for any specific entrepreneur we have covered at UrbanMeisters, or want us to reach out to specific community, or research something specific for you or if you have some tips to share, write to us here!

 

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