verynice. Does 1/2 of Its Work for Free and Wants Others to Follow Suit

I recently attended a lecture at the Mendoza College of Business, given by social entrepreneur Matthew Manos. Manos founded the design strategy agency verynice, which gives away half of its work for free to nonprofits. So, if his company takes on 10 paid projects, they also take on 10 unpaid projects. Manos explained that although he is proud of his company—which has donated $6.5 million dollars worth of services to approximately 450 nonprofits since its inception—he also feels as though it is “not enough,” and only a “small dent” in the work that needs to be done. He hopes that verynice’s business model—giving away half of its work for free—will become more of the norm than the exception.

I think that verynice, as well as other companies with similar business models, are part of, and foster, an entrepreneurial society and entrepreneurial economy. Schumpeter writes of capitalism: “we must judge its performance over time.” (Schumpeter 82). Although verynice’s business model is certainly unique, it is part of a small but notable group of other entrepreneurship companies that utilize a charitable business model. Manos pointed out several other businesses that follow in social entrepreneurship: Toms, for example, has a one-for-one model, and donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold; LSTN, as well, donates hearing aids with sales of their headphones. It will be exciting to watch how these companies grow—and, with their success, whether other innovative companies adopt a similar business model.

I think these companies align with social entrepreneurship, and foster an entrepreneurial society at large, where consumers care about the products they buy. On the website for LSTN headphones, one customer review states: “I love knowing that a part of my purchase goes to a charitable cause. I wish they were more explicit about the amount, but I remember reading it somewhere.” Consumers in an entrepreneurial society care about both the product and the purpose of the company.

Manos and these other innovative entrepreneurs seem to partake in “creative destruction” because they are “revolutioniz[ing] the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” (Schumpeter 82). They are utilizing innovative business models to increase pro bono work to those in need, and to donate money or a product to a cause. While David Mills writes that “those who so refer so happily to creative destruction are never themselves among the creatively destroyed,” this can perhaps be counteracted by the fact that the byproduct of creative destruction (i.e. innovative business models that give away work for free) is to create new jobs and help more people. (Miller 2).

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