To kick off the holiday season, the Verbal+Visual team wanted to reflect on our philanthropic core values. We partnered with the folks at Shopify Plus to put on “Selling With Soul”, our latest panel focused on companies that intertwine social causes within their businesses. Our Selling with Soul panel included: David Wolfe, co-founder of Leesa; Emily Hofstetter, VP Business Development of Bombas; Sander Cohen, founder of Dharmashop, and Ian Rosenberger, CEO & Founder of Thread International. The panel discussion centered around the opportunities and challenges of combining philanthropy and entrepreneurship. Here are the main takeaways on best practices of working on a business centered around giving.
Start with why
All of the panelists had different roads which all led to a similar place. Cohen of Dharmashop found inspiration in Buddhism; Rosenberger of Thread found inspiration on a trip to Haiti following their harrowing earthquake in 2010. Wolfe’s initial desire in his career was to get himself settled, and once he was settled, to create a business which gave back; and Hofstetter of Bombas was inspired by the companies’ mission which was in line with that of TOMS. Regardless of if you’re starting a business or joining a business, focus on the WHY of being a part of that company, including the inspiration and the impact that it will have.
Video is the medium of storytelling
Throughout the discussion, it became apparent that there were many ways in which our panelists told their stories, but one truly stood out as the most effective: Video. The Panelists all agreed that creating inspiring videos which are of the appropriate length and format for the medium they are being viewed on is vital in driving conversion and obtaining brand awareness.
There’s sales, and there’s operations
For many of our panelists and their organizations, the logistics side of their business is incredibly challenging. From setting up supply chain with multiple teams and countries throughout the chain, to partnering with philanthropies and actually donating products, to fulfilling orders when you sell out quicker than expected, these panelists have seen it all. The big takeaways on the logistics front were to automate systems, ensure scalability as best as possible, and in the cases of these companies, make sure you stay authentic and transparent to reinforce your story.
Giving as company culture
All of the companies represented in the panel have come to a place where giving is in their culture and ethos. For instance, Leesa highly encourages employees to take off to volunteer their time. At Bombas, all new hires are given 20 pairs of socks to donate to homeless shelters. All of these companies infuse philanthropy and giving from the top down, and hire employees who embrace that culture from the bottom up.
The biggest takeaway from the panel is that “Selling With Soul” increases brand awareness, product cost & value, and makes a positive impact on this world in which we live. It’s immensely challenging to do things the right way, but the fulfillment that comes out of it for all parties involved is worth every bit of extra effort which we go through to make it happen.
A special thank you to: Our Panelists, Shopify, TechSpace for donating their conference rooms, Krishna Yalla for the video of the panel (see below), and of course our attendees for making the event a true success. Enjoy the video of the event, and the photographs below!