Behind the big idea of social enterprise Goodjoe—a community-based T-shirt company with a passion for doing good—is co-founder Nathan Pham.
Meet GoodJoe, a Social Enterprise for Crowdsourcing Design
Read the Interview
Interview with Natham Pham, Co-Founder of Goodjoe.com
Innov8Social had a chance to catch up with Nathan to learn more about GoodJoe and his path to social entrepreneurship.
Q1 | Innov8Social: What inspired you to start Goodjoe? Did you feel like something was missing in the online shopping experience—or did you have an innovative take on it?
A1 | Nathan Pham, Founder of GoodJoe: It all started when I was on a business trip to the East Coast in 2007. I was caught in a snow storm and got stuck at the Chicago O’Hare airport for the night. When I was there bored and curious, I wandered around and saw a Life is Good store. I was instantly attracted by their smiley face logo. Then I went on to learn more about them. Then became inspired and obsessed and wanted to start a similar business.
After tons of research, in addition to me not knowing how to design, I applied my understanding of the crowdsourcing concept to launch goodjoe, in Dec’08, as a community-based company. By hosting contests, goodjoe utilizes the talent of the graphic designers community to help nonprofits spread their message and engage with their users.One key differentiation of goodjoe and a couple crowdsourcing t-shirt sites out there is that we zoom in and focus on working with nonprofits and using their causes as design themes. We believe that there is a huge need in helping nonprofits expose their cause, solicit and engage supporters, and to us t-shirt design competition is the solution.
A3 | Nathan: From day 1, when we brainstormed the idea and concept, we made sure the business model can generate revenue, and not depending on things such as ads. Our philoshophy has always been to create cool products that end customers would want to buy and support us, the artists and the causes. That way, we don’t have to do things that require us to charge the nonprofits for using our platform. The end goal is that when a customer buys something, everyone benefits.
Up to date, we have been learning a lot from working with nonprofits. We’ve learned that the needs and wants of each nonprofit are very dynamic. So it has been difficult to pinpoint a formula that capture the consistent needs so that we can do the next build to service more nonprofits. We are almost there though. Also, we’ve found out that nonprofits are quite behind with adapting new technology and new ways of doing things. Most of them are barely catching on with the whole social media. And so when we explain the goodjoe model, most of them do get overwhelmed. Base on these experiences, we have been able to figure out how to better articulate our model so that nonprofits can see the benefits.
Q5 | Innov8Social: What are 3 tips you have for social entrepreneurs starting out in the online space?
A6 | Nathan: (1) Find a sector that you are very passionate about making a difference in; (2) Do extensive research to validate that there is a business opportunity there; (3) Find a couple people that share the same values and passion to take on the challenge. And don’t give up until you’ve tried every angle you can possibly think of.
You can read more interviews with social entrepreneurs on Innov8Social as part of our ongoing efforts to profile individuals active in the field. You can also nominate a social entrepreneur.
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