Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

A marketplace for good: Social Enterprise Zealous Good changes how goods and services are donated.

Zealous Good

 

Name of Social Enterprise?

Zealous GoodThe marketplace for good

www.zealousgood.com

 

 

Who is the person? What is there background?

Brittany Lin Martin

I am the founder and CEO Brittany Lin Martin. I came to Chicago to study civil engineering at Northwestern and ended up graduating with a major in Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences. My favorite aspect of my degree was the study of improving systems and developing efficient processes – something I have definitely used in developing Zealous Good. I then worked for two years doing strategic business consulting with Bain & Company in the Chicago office. Following a very fulfilling experience doing pro bono consulting work, I decided to take a look at opportunities in the non-profit space and found an interesting role at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. I was the Strategic Engagement Manager and was exposed to the donors, non-profits and internal operations. During my time there, I found an opportunity area in the matching of excess goods and services between individuals, businesses, and non-profits. I spent about 10 months working nights and weekends talking to businesses, non-profits, individuals and tech developers to flush out the idea. I finally decided to pursue it full time starting late January 2011.

 

What is your product or service?

Zealous Good is a service helps non-profits and donors connect with each other in order to help non-profits find goods and services they need donated and businesses and individuals find non-profits to donate excess goods or services to.

Zealous Good does this via a simple and effective online local marketplace. This results in non-profits having increased access to donated goods and services and businesses and individuals receiving recognition for donations, tax incentives, and a simple way of donating goods and services.

A quick example would be how Zealous Good would help a homeless shelter match with a local dry cleaner to get the dry cleaning of their client’s interview suits donated.

Date officially launched?

Zealous Good became an LLC on January 18, 2011. But we are in a pilot mode of matching goods and services manually as compared to via online platform. The official online product will launch later this year.

What came about that made them help in social change? Why was this social venture created?

This venture was created to simply make it easier for people to do good. People want to donate but sometimes the process is so difficult that “doing good” comes with a significant inconvenience. We want to make the whole process easier and better. Another critical aspect of the work we are doing is bringing in the technology component that provides a scalable solution.

Could others help you and how?

Yes! Spread the word! Especially if you are in Chicago! Chicagoans can definitely help by looking at what goods or services they can donate and connecting with Zealous Good. You can find all the wish list information at http://zealousgood.com/wish-lists. Non-Chicagoans can help by spreading the word to their Chicago networks and signing your email up on our website (www.zealousgood.com) so that you will be informed when we expand to your area. As I mentioned, we are currently only matching donations in Chicago but hoping to expand in coming years.

Also, if you know someone who is interested in an internship in social media or business development – we are hiring. Also, we are always looking for support in our technology development. We are definitely excited and looking to grow the team!

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Currently we are using WordPress, Twitter (@zealousgood), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/ZealousGood2011) . All of these tools help us to raise awareness of the product and the work we are trying to accomplish.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

I’m the only one on the ground! I have a handful of advisors and am in discussions with some technology designers and developers. Just recently we were selected by a group of DePaul University graduate students who will be providing pro bono consulting on my communications and marketing. And we are looking to grow: we are looking for social media and business development interns.

Do you tweet, Facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?

Yes, we do! Twitter – @ ZealousGood http://twitter.com/#!/ZealousGood

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZealousGood2011

What is the best advice you never got?

Keep going. There will be good days and bad days. If you don’t keep going though, you’ll never get to see any more good days.

What is the one thing that you did right?

Thought about the customer and researched the process heavily before spending money to build the product. This way I’m making sure the customer actually needs my product. I didn’t spend a ton of money building a product that doesn’t really solve the problem. I’m figuring out exactly what the problem is, how to fix it, and then building the product around that. This way we are building for the customers not just for the product.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

The biggest transition for me was becoming my own boss in a team of one and having to make all the decisions. I’ve got a handful of advisors and an incredibly supportive fiancé. But, I’m the only one on the ground working towards this and will be until the summer when we bring on interns. It is hard to know what the right move is when you are much more familiar in working in teams. The other large transition has been time management – there are never enough hours in the day and figuring out the best way to use them can be a serious challenge sometimes.

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

The most important thing from my perspective is determine how you can develop something that has impact and also a sustainable business model. Just being a social entrepreneur who wants to make a difference won’t last long unless you have a business plan and the ability to prove that the marketplace has a need and will pay for your good or service. Think about the impact you will have but also think a lot about who your customers are. What’s your market? Why will you be able to succeed? I’d say all that is important and resilience. Many people will knock your idea. They will have trouble understanding a business model that is focused on social impact and revenue. Keep going – wake up each day and remind yourself how important the work you are doing it.

Brittany Lin Martin
Zealous Good
www.zealousgood.com
Brittany at zealousgood.com
847-942-2063

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