Name of Business: GiveGood, Inc.
GiveGood creates handcrafted food products and gift boxes to employ and empower individuals on the autism spectrum. We believe that consumers prefer that their purchases are impactful.
What is GiveGood?
We are a Tennessee Benefit Corporation, chartered in 2016. B-Corps are for-profit enterprises with a clear and definable for-purpose mission. We believe that young adults on the autism spectrum have the cognitive abilities and the skill sets to perform meaningful roles in a business enterprise.
First, we began with a structure that creates a safe and productive environment for the needs of our young adults. Then we overlay a business model that can be profitably sustained. We believe that a line of high quality consumer products offer the consumer the opportunity to meet their snack needs and at the same time to make a difference in the lives of other individuals. Last, we have developed an employment model that assesses, trains, and supports our young people, so they can be successful employees.
Why did you start GiveGood?
We began GiveGood, because we thought that the 82% unemployment rate among young persons on the autism spectrum was much too high. With almost 60,000 of these young people turning 18 each year, the current approaches, while admirable, could not keep up with the growing numbers. We believe that GiveGood is as much a model, as a business. There needs to be solutions that can offer scale to address these growing numbers, and we are confident that GiveGood offers a solution.
Who do you employ?
While my oldest son, Rob, who is a 27-year old young man, is my inspiration for this project, GiveGood was created to address the 1000’s that are unemployed. While we have 5 other part-time employees, we will not rest until our company and our model can offer a meaningful solution throughout the country.
What are some challenges you’ve faced?
- Money. This is an ambitious project requiring funding that can offer scale large enough to build a business that can touch many, many lives. Investors are unfamiliar with this new model of combining business and mission, and it’s often a challenge to convey the merits of making a financial investment.
- There is enormous pressure to be successful. Almost weekly I get contacted from someone who is advocating for a family member, friend, or neighbor who is desperately looking for employment and purpose. Their stories are emotionally intense and often heart breaking. We have to be a part of the solution.
- Spreading the word. It’s a challenge to do the marketing to share what we are doing to help employ more young adults and how our communities can help us by purchasing our gift boxes for the holidays.
What are the rewards of starting GiveGood?
- Getting to offer hope to those who are desperate.
- Being vindicated in our assumption that consumers will respond to cause marketing.
- Discovering that so many people in our communities have a heart for helping people on the spectrum.
Do you have a great moment to share?
When we came up with the name for our company, we liked the name GiveGood, but we were unsure that our name would be broad and grand enough to support the breadth of our dreams. Nevertheless, we took the plunge and protected the name through copyright. In December 2017 we had the validation that we indeed had a great name.
Starbucks features a slogan every holiday season for their international campaign and decided to base their $30 million ad campaign around our name. GiveGood would be found on every sleeve of their coffee sold throughout the world for 6-weeks. Of course, we sent them a cease and desist order, and they acknowledged their error and promised never to use our name again in a marketing campaign of theirs. Now we are confident we have a $30,000,000 name!
What’s happening next?
While our first products have been delicious confectionary items, we also, being a B-Corp, realize that what goes into our bodies is as important as what we do with our bodies. So, with the help of a national chef specializing in healthy eating, we created and tested a new snack, which will be called the GiveGood Bar. We have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback It is an all-natural bar consisting of toasted oats, dates, almonds, pecans, and other healthy ingredients. We hope to offer the bar in January 2019.
What message would you like to give others?
Speaking from experience, we understand the challenges and the anxieties that families face as their sons and daughters age. We believe that they have value and offer much to their communities. As GiveGood grows, we hope to be a model for which others can use to address this problem in their communities.
How do your employees feel?
“Hi, I am Rob Dunavant. I have been working at GiveGood for almost 2-years. It’s my first real job. I love working at GiveGood, because it is a place where I am comfortable being myself.”
Do good by supporting GiveGood:
Images by Madeline Lajeune Viner. Follow her on Instagram: @lajeune
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