In Neil Parmar’s latest article in Entrepreneur, “Can Giveback Programs Help School Supplies Sellers Stand Out?“, I offer some thoughts on the viability of social startups. In this case, those selling a commodity product, office supplies. Read the whole article, but here are are my quotes from the article.
“My formula is: commodity + charity = novelty, not sustainability,” says Steve Faktor, author of the book Econovation and chief executive of IdeaFaktory, an accelerated growth and innovation consultancy based in New York City.
“You can and should strive to be an ethical business, but these bolted-on hybrids are rarely good businesses or effective charities,” he adds. “They may be able to carve out a small niche, but ultimately, purchasing departments are not the best channel for charitable giving.”
“While both [Chalkfly and Yoobi] are selling pure commodities, at least Yoobi is trying to create its own brand,” says Faktor.
In a follow-up piece, I’ll post more details on better ways to do social entrepreneurship.