Making sustainability everyone’s business
‘hoodHeroes strives to be the people’s guide to a sustainable marketplace by helping citizens choose sustainable brands that share the social or environmental causes they cherish and the ethical standards they live by. More specifically, ‘hoodHeroes is a rating platform that allows its community to share what they know and think about the sustainability of brands. In turn, this allows everybody to look up, choose wisely and allow the most sustainable companies to win exposure and interest from potential customers, employees and investors.
We decided to interview a Danish startup called ‘hoodheroes for our campaign “Doing business with an impact”.
Can you tell me about yourself and your business?
Frederik: My name is Jonas, and my co-founder is Frederik, and we are the “original geeks” behind ‘hoodHeroes. We met at the company we were previously working for. The more we talked, the more we realized we both shared the same feelings about the nature of advertising. Billions of dollars can be wasted on pointless advertising and it is increasingly harder for companies to be spotted because of the fierce competition and therefore the massive amount of ads consumers are bombarded with every day. From there, we saw great potential in finding a more meaningful way where money can be spent with more value than what standard advertising currently has.
We created a community platform, in which companies can showcase their sustainable aspirations and initiatives – or in other words, what they are doing to contribute to the SDGs related to the purpose of their business. On our platform, this is then put to the test, as citizens can rate them high or low, which provides the company (and the entire community actually) with important insight into what conscious consumers and work talent appreciate. More than just “talk”, companies will be able to “walk their talk” and prove their sustainable promises. For example, they will be able to verify and validate that their certifications (such as Fair Trade), their charitable donations and good-doing events are indeed trustworthy.
At ‘hoodHeroes we believe that, if you find a brand that has an idealistic purpose beyond profits and selling stuff, that fights for your most cherished cause, that you can impact with your voice and that you trust to do what it claims to do, well, then you will get to know and love the brand, resulting in brand loyalty, which is something you do not get that much in today’s market – especially not via traditional product or price-based advertising.
In fact, brand purpose now has become so important for consumers that it has a stronger effect on purchase decision than quality or price – and equally so for employees and their wage requirements. Another great thing is that well-appreciated brand sustainability naturally makes you want to tell your friends which thereby generates word of mouth and broadens the awareness far beyond these immediate “ambassadors”. So we think it is a far more rewarding, lasting and meaningful investment for your money and everybody behind the company.
What have you achieved so far?
Frederik: We have actually just launched the “beta” version of the platform at the end of June! So we have something to show anyone interested, and it just gets better every week.
Just as important in my eyes, we have managed to assemble a great team. Without this team and our helpful pilot partners, the platform would not exist or be as cool as it is manifesting itself to be, little by little. We are eight people now, and probably will be nine starting from next month and if someone had told me a little year ago that so many people would be assembled, not just around us, but around the platform we are working on, I would have been baffled. So those are definitely our two huge achievements thus far, the team and the platform. Sitting here in the Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship Incubator right now, that is something we are appreciative of too.
How is your service sustainable?
At ‘hoodHeroes, our overall purpose is to help “make sustainability everybody’s everyday business” by connecting citizens & companies around the sustainable causes they care and share. Therefore, it is always fun when we describe our company because at the end of the day we are more of a kind of infrastructure for sustainable offerings, than a directly sustainable offering in isolation. It is the actual companies and citizens that are doing the hard work and are considered the “heroes” that go the extra mile.
Instead, our role is quite “meta” in facilitating the market to demand and supply more sustainably & responsibly – in making it more convenient, believable and worthwhile. If successful though, this will through the power of the crowd indirectly mobilize sustainable impact exponentially larger than any of us could ever achieve as singular drops in the ocean.
How are your services connected to the SDGs and which one?
Frederik: Apart from generally aspiring to empower everybody to advance progress on all 17 SDGs, our contribution to “being the change we want” is to focus primarily on the following SDGs:
SDG 4: “Quality education”
Vesting the world with knowledge to make sustainability everybody’s everyday business. At ‘hoodHeroes together we assemble all brands’ sustainability profiles in one educational place and enable all to learn about, rate, reward and request sustainability causes and initiatives so as to strengthen awareness and healthy competition spiralling upwards towards a more and more sustainable market. Finally, we publish stories raising awareness about need-to-know causes and initiatives to inform everybody’s hero journeys onward.
SDG 12: “Responsible consumption and production”
Bringing together & out the responsible heroes in all consumers and producers. The easiest and most effective way of solving the grand environmental and ecological challenges of our world is for every one of us – as consumers, employees, investors, business managers – to make wiser choices in the market. Then, tiny tweaks of everyday heroism will lead to a colossal change in the ‘hoods we each care dearly about. Today, however, connecting that demand and supply of more market sustainability is oftentimes prevented by difficulty in finding, comparing, trusting, impacting and rewarding each other for the good-doing. Therefore, the core aspiration of ‘hoodHeroes is to bridge that gap and assemble the ecosystem on the platform in order to facilitate and incentivize responsible consumption and production – conveniently, believably & worthwhile – in everybody’s everyday life
SDG 17: “Partnerships for the goals”
Empowering the real heroes to do what they do best. ‘hoodHeroes pledges to make all our services fully free to heroic non-profit organizations. The prosperity of our world depends on such fiery souls with their dedication and expertise in solving their chosen challenge. ‘hoodHeroes believes the greatest impact can be achieved by empowering non-profits with our strength: to help them make their voice heard and rally support from all everyday heroes in society. Therefore, we donate back 100% of subscription costs to non-profits selected for their heroic causes and contributions to the ‘hood.
Do you have any tips for other companies that want to work with sustainability?
Frederik: Well, although sustainability wave going on right now already is huge and some companies already are riding far ahead on it or smashed under its colossal force, it is definitely not too late to join. In fact, since citizens are just now really starting to learn the SDGs, companies have a good case for getting a head start on picking at least one SDG goal as their key cause to focus authentically on from now on, before it becomes mainstream, expected, and critically questioned if lacking. So now is the time to transition and network.
With all this being said, at ‘hoodHeroes, even our own contribution to the sustainability of this precious world is an evolutionary journey and a matter of progress through focus. Over time, we aspire to deepen and widen our positive impact on the different SDGs. And hmm, if only there was a way to showcase – let alone get credit for, awareness and loyalty for – these growing sustainability efforts of our and other brands…wait, now there is!
So we hope to see you in the ‘hood of sustainable heroes on ‘hoodHeroes.co. today.