Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

The Future of Eco-friendly Products and the Brains Behind the Business

Ethical Ocean is a project that was created with a passion for social change and eco-friendly consumerism. An idea incubated on a road trip between friends, eight insightful and like-minded professionals have since come together to create an e-commerce business centered around ethical shopping. In the last year the team has taken their idea to action and the rest is history.

Founding members, Chad Hamre, Brenna Donoghue, Davin Lengyel, Tony Hancock, David Damberger, Lena Lam, Mike Spendlove, and Jon Fishbein each bring their own focus and dynamic to the team. With leadership from CEO, Chad Hamre, the team shift as experts and generalists, shaping the organization’s values and philosophy with each step they take in the eco-friendly product industry.

Ethical Ocean is about state-of-the-art learning for empowered shoppers. They strive to enhance shared experiences and dialogues, increase the availability of eco-friendly products, and above all, build awareness around socially-minded lifestyles changes.

Here’s our interview with CEO Chad Hamre:

Chad Hamre

What is your product or service?

Ethical Ocean is an online social marketplace that brings together the people, companies, and ideas needed to drive a new era in ethical consumerism.

For companies, we provide a custom-built platform that allows them to form meaningful relationships with potential customers, to showcase their ethical practices, and to market and sell their products to hundreds of thousands of ethical shoppers.

For shoppers, we help people understand ethical consumption and are influencing the emerging ethical certification framework. Using an innovative crowd-sourced approach, we are pioneering a new social commerce.

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

158 million children are engaged in child labor [UNICEF, 2010]. Concurrently, manufacturers continue to rush to developing countries where environmental regulations are no tighter than labor standards.

While 90% of Americans are concerned about the environment, 20% about labor practices, and 34% about animal welfare, only 5% always consider sustainability when shopping [Hartman, 2008].

We aim to empower consumer society to maximize the social and environmental impact of the products we buy and the companies we support.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Mail Chimp is great for our mailing list.

Co-Tweet is great for managing our twitter presence.

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

EO is up to three full-time employees, a summer intern, and 5 part-timers.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out? (Please provide links)

Social media is an integral part of our organizational make-up. Maintaining connection with the people in our community allows us to stay up-to-date with emerging trends in the industry and provides people with platforms to discuss and share the information the is propelling social change. We have a facebook fan page, twitter community, LinkedIn profile, blog, and use youtube regularly to get the word out on activities we’re participating in.

What is the best advice you never got?

In the beginning, be fast and loose! A lot of entrepreneurs sit on good-enough ideas for years, waiting for the perfect idea. The truth is, that you need to just dive in early. Put in some money, give it a shot – if you dive in fast you’ll learn and eventually land on something more quickly than if you get into an analysis paralysis.

What is the one thing that you did right?

We built the right team. EO’s biggest asset is the creative, skilled, committed team that powers us. We added the right people to the team at the right team. Your people are everything when you’re a small company.

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

Making the transition from a hobby to a professional company has been difficult. There are lots of risk mitigating reasons to keep things small and informal, but we needed to make the jump by investing money, raising Angel funding, and de-prioritizing other projects and parts of our lives to give EO a real shot. It has paid off.

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

I’d suggest that social entrepreneurs actually start by identifying legit business opportunities first, and then asking, “okay, does this provide social impact” or “how can we do this business differently to provide social value.” If you start from the social impact side alone, you might get stuck with a great idea that will never gain business traction, at which point you’ll end up spending your time looking for donors and charity, instead of growing your venture.

What book(s) have you read that others should read?

Delivering Happiness, The Tipping Point, Boom, Bust, and Echo

Content provided by:

Chad Hamre, Kate Snack
admin at

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