Consumer habits are responsible for so many of the sustainability issues we face today, which means as consumers, we are extremely powerful. There are thousands of green companies now developing eco-friendly consumer goods that reduce resource consumption, cut toxicity, diminish water and energy consumption, and limit waste. But how, as a consumer, do you find them all?
That’s where green marketing entrepreneurs come in! These smart, savvy individuals are finding ways to promote and inspire a new generation of green consumers with an eye for profitability that doesn’t break the environmental bank.
Advice from Sundeep Ahuja, Blissmo Founder & Experienced Green Entrepreneur
Green Marketing TV interviewed Sundeep Ahuja, founder of blissmo, a green groupon service for savvy green consumers looking for sustainable products and services that meet quality and organic standards. They feature green businesses through regular deals that provide discounts to consumers while promoting eco-friendly companies seeking a place in the market. (Interested green businesses can connect with blissimo online.) Using social media, this groupon site has become a hub for green business development activity.
What is Blissmo? What is Blissmo’s business model?
blissmo’s mission is to shift demand towards “sustainable consumption” in an effort to fight climate change and prevent environmental degradation. We do this by finding the best sustainable and organic products and services and introducing them to the savvy, conscious shopper at discounts of up to 50%. Changing consumption patterns is no easy task, and discounts are a proven way to get consumers to try new things.
Our business model is similar to Groupon.com’s in that we promote qualified businesses free of cost and take a small commission on any discounted vouchers we sell. Unlike Groupon we’re a mission-driven organization seeking to set these businesses up for long-term success, so our fee is much less and we’re more flexible around terms.
What did it take to get Blissmo off the ground?
In one way, it took years of experience at eBay and MySpace, helping launch Kiva.org, and co-founding two previous startups (richrelevance and The Extraordinaries). In another way, all it took was a vision, powerful off-the-shelf tools such as WordPress and Google Docs, a strong and growing team of talented individuals who believe in the mission, and friends wanting to help out – plus lots of hard work and hustle.
Is Blissmo self funded? Angel or VC funded? If so, what did it take for you to secure funding?
At the moment blissmo is self-funded. We’re not opposed to taking investment in the future, but because we’re mission driven we’re waiting until we’ve proven the model and our mission-driven approach until we take outside capital.
How do you reach your target audience of green consumers?
How do you find and identify the best green retailers?
It’s a combination of them reaching out to us, our community and friends suggesting businesses and introducing us to them, and our own research. Definitions of “green” vary; we look for values driven, people and planet neutral or positive businesses, products and services. Ideally they are certified by a relevant third party (i.e. San Francisco’s Green Business Program), or if not, they are authentically sustainable in a way that we feel comfortable promoting them to our community.
We’ve been surprised and amazed by the number of passionate and clever entrepreneurs out there creating some great alternatives to “conventional” products. Part of what makes blissmo so fun is that we discover these companies and help them by promoting them to the very consumers who would appreciate them.
Are there any mistakes that you made on this entrepreneurial journey that you would like to share with other green entrepreneurs?
The biggest mistake was expecting the revenue to just come pouring in. After hearing stories about how much money Groupon and similar companies were making, we thought even though our commission is much less we should be covering costs in no time. Ha! Most definitely not true. It’s a long road, and “green” entrepreneurs – in both senses of the word – should be ready for that.
What advice would you have for other aspiring green and social entrepreneurs?
Be sure you know what your revenue model is, and how long it will take to scale. Even if you have the best idea or the best intentions, ultimately if you want to build something that will be have broad impact make sure it can be a real, sustainable business.