Introducing Ben Miller
Ben was training to be a psychotherapist when his activist background caught up with him. This time, instead of joining the picket line, he discovered social entrepreneurship and thought of a way to help consumers shop exclusively with companies that share their values, realizing what a wonderful world this would create.
“Scalechange turned my world upside-down. I first tried to start it as a side-project while I was training to be a therapist as a grad student in New York City, but discovered that my grassroots background had not prepared me to lead a social enterprise.
Since that time, I’m climbed a very steep learning curve, completing a master’s of science in business and working with many social venture startups in order to expanding upon the business development tactics I picked up recruiting for Teach for America as undergraduate.
I learned so much working in the marketing department at Pachamama Alliance throughout 2016 and felt like I was ready to lead Scalechange and started working on it full time in 2017.
That’s when I went to India, to work directly with our tech partners in Delhi, and 9 months later, the products I’ve envisioned for so long are coming together and I’m excited to return to the States now, products-in-hand, to do fundraising and friendraising, but there aren’t a lot of resources out catering to social ventures startups.”
Unfortunately while 82% of Americans prefer to “go green” only 16% are able to be environmentally-friendly consumers, putting 66% into a gap that Ogilvy & Mather refers to as the Middle Green.
“We believe that people aren’t able to invest with companies that share their values and divest from those that don’t due to a lack of information regarding the social and environmental impact of the products they purchase and the premium pricing of most sustainable options.”
“Fellow Social entrepreneurs, remember your activist roots and the fact that unlike NGOs you do not rely on donations so you can take a strong stance when it comes to your mission.”
Scalechange has developed the following two-fold solution to close both the information and pricing gap:
To help close the information gap, Ben launched Commonstake, a social media platform which allows users to discuss and rate the performance of companies in regard to corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Crowdsourcing allows for aggregation of international CSR data and engages mainstream consumers at an appropriately aggressive rate while other CSR platforms only inform American, early adopters.
To help close the pricing gap, Commonstake offer rebates to incentivize sustainable shopping. Companies with a sufficiently high rating on Commonstake are able to provide customers with equity in our social-venture partners.
Scalechange will measure success by tracking the progress of Commonstake users through our pipeline of engagement. The first step is the conversion of everyday consumers into conscientious stakeholders through social marketing.
The second step is the conversion of conscientious stakeholders into shareholders through customer equity awarded to sustainable shoppers. The final step is the conversion of shareholders into shareholder activists through social venture investments that they select.
By informing and influencing one another, consumers can take control of their supply chain, divesting from fossil fuels and investing in socially responsible, environmentally friendly, ethically governed companies.
A one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue (Harvard Business School). Commonstake aims to gamify sustainability in a similar fashion.
Scaling Change in 2018
Worldplay Ventures, a California Benefit Corporation, incubated Scalechange during its first 2 years and managed its day to day operations while web and mobile development work was outsourced to India.
Having graduated from incubation, Scalechange is now a standalone entity.
“Going into 2018, I am the only executive officer, and am eager to build a stellar team of cofounders, investors and advisors.”
For the past 2 years Scalechange has been focused exclusively on product development and, in order to graduate from this phase, spent time managing and working with tech contractors.
“In India I was able to collaborate directly with our partners’ contractors who built our social platform and mobile app. Here’s the breakdown of our team there: 1 graphic designer, 2 mobile developers, 1 project manager, 3 Ruby developers,1 SEO specialist and 1 UX designer.”
What Would You R3SET?
“Corporate social responsibility is not a new topic but one of its components has recently gained a lot more attention. Climate change is the one issue that connects us all and comes with an apocalyptic deadline.
The only good thing about global warming is that it is has engaged the general population with corporate citizenship like never before. Informed and engaged as “consumer citizens,” we can stop global warming in its tracks and put an end to many other profit-driven problems as well.”
How Can The R3SET Community Best Support You?
“As the first crowd-controlled VC firm, consumers run the show at Scalechange. Sustainable shoppers who get involved early will be especially influential as we collectively crowdsource the data needed to avoid companies who don’t share our values around the world and in our communities.
The dividends generated by $cale¢hange depends on the energy of early adopters using Commonstake and Scalechange’s mobile app— if we build a healthy community of socially-conscious consumers, companies will come.
Companies will have to engage their stakeholders on Commonstake, which is when revenue and the profit to reinvest in startups arrive.
In exchange for helping crowdsource information about corporate citizenship, you’ll be able to help crowdfund changemakers and increase the value of your credits as startups do well by doing good.”
Learn More About Scalechange
Consumers can earn rewards on Commonstake.com, Scalechange’s signature product, in two ways: by sharing information about companies in regard to corporate responsibility or by purchasing products or services from qualifying companies on Commonstake.
Mobile users can can also earn rewards through the Scalechange app in two ways: by walking into participating stores and scanning barcodes belonging to participating products.