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New venture hoping that 'good breeds good'

Rochester Business Journal
January 24, 2014

A venture created to support and connect “good” businesses is ready to take its first big step.

Founded in July by Gavin Thomas and Lisa Kribs-LaPierre, This Good World Network LLC is planning the formal launch of its website—thisgoodworld.com—on Jan. 31. It is designed to be a collaboration network for companies and individuals.

The founders’ aim is twofold: to help businesses work together and communicate to spread good in their communities and beyond, and to make it easier for individuals to support good businesses.

For businesses, there are four annual membership tiers: $2,500 for big businesses, $1,000 for midsize businesses, $250 for small businesses and a free membership option for those with limited disposable financial resources.

Individuals have free access to information on the website.

This Good World has 80 founding members in cities around the country, including Rochester, Detroit, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo. The most distant member is in Manchester, England.

Rochester-area members, who to date make up 15 percent of the total, include Joe Bean Coffee Roasters LLC, McDougall Communications Corp., Reconnect Rochester Inc., Java’s Cafe, Dresden Public Relations Inc., EvenOdd LLC and the Rochester Brainery.

“Our business philosophy is really the philosophy that they’re bringing out, which is trying to do business in a way that (has) a positive impact in your community,” said Katherine Turiano, owner of Joe Bean Coffee Roasters.

“I think that a lot of people do care who they’re actually doing business with,” she added, “especially in this day and age where we’ve seen so many unethical businesses out there.”

Ashley Cellura, co-founder of EvenOdd, became a founding member of This Good World to expand the reach of her business, which sells handcrafted products made from upcycled materials.

“I think it will just be a great networking spot for all of us,” she said. “I think it can definitely help our company grow. … I also think we’ll get a good (awareness) of other companies and what they’re doing (to) learn some practices that they are putting together to help their company.”

This Good World founders Thomas and Kribs-LaPierre, both 30, are Upstate New York natives—Thomas from Colton in St. Lawrence County and Kribs-LaPierre from Syracuse—and digital marketers by trade.

Kribs-LaPierre has nearly a decade of experience in interactive marketing with a background in market research and analytics. She has expertise in social media strategy and platforms and specializes in the research, planning, development and implementation of social media programs.

Thomas’ entire career has been digital. He worked for seven years with an agency focused on digital media, social media strategy, content strategy and development, and insights and analytics.

The roots of This Good World stretch back nearly five years to when Thomas and Kribs-LaPierre started a blog to chronicle acts of good around them. The blog was born of the friends’ belief that American culture tends to dwell on negative aspects of society.

“It was really kind of out of frustration,” Thomas said. “I think that there was so much negativity in general (with) the things that people would share on blogs and social media.”

The daily posts spanning a wide range of topics were compiled into a book, “This Good World: A Guide to Good Vibes,” which was published in July 2012 as an e-book and released in print five months later.

With publication of the book, Thomas and Kribs-LaPierre decided more could be done to spread good.

Their definition of good is intentionally vague, they say. It is left to be interpreted by each member of the network.

“Everybody asks how we judge what good is and who is a good business, and I think the best way to explain that is we don’t judge,” Thomas said. “We’re not a certification organization. We admire those organizations, but it’s not meant to be a certification; it’s more about the actual commitment that these businesses are making.”

This Good World is by no means the first socially conscious business venture or network. Many emerged from the environmental movement of the last few decades. More recently, the idea of “benefit corporations”—organizations focused on having a positive impact on society—has gained currency.

What sets This Good World apart, Kribs-LaPierre said, is its inclusivity.

“This Good World will not turn away any business without the resources or finances to participate,” she said. “On a local level, we do not expect to replace anything that may already exist in the area related to social consciousness. Our mission is designed for retention, participation and openness.”

Kribs-LaPierre and Thomas also believe the timing of their venture might be right. A recent survey shows that corporate social responsibility is a strong factor in employment choices for millennials, who are expected to make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. Some 80 percent of 1,800 millennials who participated in the 2020 Workplace survey said they want to work for a company that acknowledges and cares how it affects society.

To join This Good World, companies fill out a form on the website. The form asks for descriptions of good practices in four categories: environment, social change, employees/culture and community. The network is open to any business.

“We don’t want to turn anybody away from the network and say, ‘Well, you’re not good enough,’” Kribs-LaPierre said. “Obviously, corporate social responsibility is going to be a huge piece of this, but then also it’s the small coffee shop on the corner and what they’re doing.”

Rochester is the company’s inaugural “good ambassador.”

“We really expect and are hoping to have Rochester be an example city for this in terms of the collaboration piece,” Thomas said.

Using modern technology, the founders of This Good World hope to foster a return to communal communication.

“Back in the day, businesses would come together in one central location and talk about things; it was on a local level, a town hall meeting,” Kribs-LaPierre said. “We want to get people thinking about what it used to be and what happened. Why isn’t it that way anymore? Somewhere along the way that got a little lost.”

She added: “Good breeds good, and we keep coming back to that. Saying, ‘What good are businesses already doing, and what good could they be doing?’—it just gets people thinking.”

1/24/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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