Vancity Entrepreneurs: ethicalDeal

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ethicalDeal

Past features of mine have taken advantage of various new and promising startups in the GrowLab hub. This week, I focus on another developing hub closer to home, as our next entrepreneur happens to work right below me in a co-working space that Vancity Buzz and various other statups and companies work out of; The Network Hub. Meet ethicalDeal, the green version of Groupon. Giving deals on green choices and growing in the right direction on the income statement!

1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and how it got started.
We launched ethicalDeal in November 2010, with a mission of making green mainstream.  We found that the top three reasons that prevent people from making greener choices are that they think they’re too expensive, they don’t know where to find them, and they don’t know what to trust. ethicalDeal finds the best green products (using our ethical criteria as a guide), educates you about their health & eco benefits, and lets you try them out at an introductory price! You have the convenience of choosing to redeem your ethicalDeal at a grocery store near you or have the product delivered to your door. We’re passionate about community and education so this year we also launched a blog that features healthy recipes and green living tips. Check out this video to learn more more about who we are and what we do!

2. Would referring to ethicalDeal as a “Green Groupon” be a fair statement? Where do you overlap and what sets you apart?

At our core we are a community that’s united around a common interest of living a healthy and natural lifestyle. We attract green finders not deal finders! We are driven by our mission of making green mainstream and love that our deals make this lifestyle more accessible.  Our latest offering, ethicalDeal Grocery, is an innovation in the daily deal space.

3. What can we expect from ethicalDeal in the short and long-term future? (Expanding to other cities? offering new products? new partnerships? new business model? ect.)

With the launch of our latest product, ethicalDeal Grocery, shoppers can now save on everyday green essentials and pick them up a grocery store near them. We’ve launched ethicalDeal Grocery in VancouverVictoria and Toronto and are expanding to more cities soon. We have partnered with over 30 organic and natural retailers – in Vancouver pick-up locations include Greens Market, Sweet Cherubim, Famous Foods, Donalds Market, Nourish Market and Sprout Organic Market. Our weekly grocery flyer offer savings from 30-70% off everyday green essentials like organic food, fairtrade coffee, natural skin and bath care, eco cleaning products and more. No more coupon clipping for 50 cents off your favourite grocery brands – now you can find them on ethicalDeal! 
Brands trial new products through ethicalDeal Grocery and gain customers, exposure and data for their natural and organic products. Retailers benefit from the increased foot traffic and sales. It’s a win-win-win model for consumers, brands and retailers so we’re excited to continue to develop this product. The future of ethicalDeal is in promoting everyday green essentials – this is what will ultimately make green mainstream.

4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?

The media has painted the entire daily deal industry with the same brush stroke, so although we’re taking a different approach to daily deals, that is delivering value to our clients and shoppers, we’re having to spend more time and energy than before on educating people how we’re different than sites like Groupon. We decided to tell our story through video so we created a customer testimonial video that showcases the value we provide our merchants and developed a customer facing video that highlights our new grocery offering, and the value we provide consumers. At the end of the day, its the experience our shoppers and clients have with ethicalDeal that matters, and our testimonials and metrics, show us that we are on the right track.

5. How does this improve the city of Vancouver? What is the real world problem you’re solving?

Vancouver has a goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020. A big part of meeting that goal is educating people about greener choices and making it easy to take action – that’s where we come in!
Picture yourself in front of a grocery aisle with 100 different shampoos and conditioners to choose from. The choices are overwhelming and the labels are confusing and difficult to understand. You’ve heard that the word ‘natural’ has been abused by some companies so you stay clear of that, but then organic is so expensive! You give-up and stick with the same old product you’ve been using. 
Making greener choices doesn’t have to be so hard. ethicalDeal introduces you to one new eco-product a day, educates you about the benefits to your health and the planet, and our discounts make it easy to try something new! Many of the products we promote are also local!
Our blog educates people about everything from veganism to composting to DIY eco household cleaners. ethicalDeal is your guide to green living!

6. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

Have a mission that goes beyond the bottom line. You can profit with purpose!

This is definitely a startup that stays true to Vancouver’s colours and it’ll be interesting to see how ethicalDeal is impacted by the cities changing culture as 2020’s green goal draws closer. It’s a clever startup that has differentiated themselves in an arguably slowly dying and highly competitive daily deal space.

You can follow ethicalDeal on Twitter and Facebook.

Stay in touch @pauldavidescu

*Vancity Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs or startups that are making Vancouver a better place. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, sendpaul@vancitybuzz.com an email explaining why*

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Paul Davidescu Founder of Tangoo, the pocket concierge app that delivers the most personal and seamless way to organize the perfect social outing at restaurants and social venues matched to your mood: (www.tangoo.ca/app). Former editor of Vancouver Entrepreneurs series, UBC Sauder alumni, public speaker, startup mentor.
@pauldavidescu

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