Building a Business in the Conscious Capitalism Age: Advice from the Founder of Combat Flip Flops


My name’s Matt Griffin. I’m the cofounder and CEO of Combat Flip Flops. We’re a fashion and lifestyle business that
makes products in war zones. And then we use our profits to put little
girls to school in Afghanistan, clear land mines, and help veteran causes at home. Our mission is to create peaceful, forward
thinking opportunities to help self determined entrepreneurs affected by conflict. Our willingness to take bold risks, community
connection, and distinct designs communicates “Business, not bullets”, flipping the view
on how wars are won. So conscious capitalism is a thing. I think you’re seeing more youth, more millennials,
more younger entrepreneurs, they don’t like the way things are rolling out in the market
right now, and they believe that they can come up with an equal or greater product that
has a better social impact, and is better for the environment. It is a thing, and people need to embrace
it. Through our network, we found the first employee
at Tom’s. A guy named Blake. So I got ahold of him, and I said, “Hey, we’re
thinking about starting up this shoe company, it’s for doing good in the world, can we come
talk to you?” And they said, “Yeah, come on down.” So we flew down to Tom’s, you know, toured
their headquarters, went in there. And we just said, “Hey, man, you guys are
on the left. You guys are doing a lot of good for the world. We’re on, more on the right. We want to do a lot of good for the world. How about we just do a lot of good for the
world together and we’ll meet in the middle?” And we high fived, and they broke down their
business model for us. They told us how they did it. And so, if you get into the conscious capitalism
community, and you reach out and you have good, sincere, honest intentions on helping
people, there is an open book. You are going to get experience and mentorship
that never would’ve been offered to you by the people who are doing it right now. Because it doesn’t matter where you come from,
your background, your skin color, your sexuality, your gender, whatever. There’s just a lot of good that needs to be
done in the world, and there’s a community of people that want to see that come to fruition. The biggest challenge for conscious capital
companies is investment. When we first started our company, it was
the same year that they legalized marijuana in Washington state. So you can imagine people investing in dope
companies or people investing in a flip flop company in products in Afghanistan. Like the profit margins on the pro formas
were drastically different. And any person with money that wants to be
an investor, has dreams of making more money. And so the biggest challenge is finding people
who are empathetic, compassionate with your cause, and their priorities are in helping
the world and not in making a profit. And I’d have to say that the biggest challenge
for people wanting to do good for the world and run businesses that are good for the world
are finding the investment pool to do so. The challenge with investment for conscious
capitalism business is the duration it takes to see the good. You know, it’s qualitative and quantitative. And they call it the triple bottom line. Good for the company, good for the employees,
good for the world. And… it’s more than just what’s in your
bank account. It takes years to come to fruition. It’s not an immediate turnaround in profits,
you’re not going to invest in the company and you’re going to immediately sell it to
Goldman Sachs for billions of dollars, you know, in two years later like some tech company. It just doesn’t work that way. So the challenge that you’re going to have
is, one is your persistence, your ability to see the future, your desire to plan yourself
out for years, set the right expectations with your investors, and move forward in that
capacity. That’s a huge challenge is how long it actually
takes for conscious capital businesses to move forward and be successful. There are a lot of people who are skeptics
about the conscious capitalism concept and the promotion on a lot of businesses. And I would say like there are in anything
that you do that’s good, anything that’s a rage, you’re going to find the fakes. You’re going to find people who are the posers
and faking the funk. And you’ve just got to trust that over time,
that it’s gonna come out. It happens. There’s nothing that you can do to stop it. But through adequate due diligence, through
interpretation of what they’re doing, and if you have any questions, call them directly
and ask them, you’re going to find out who are the people who are doing the real good
in the world. So yeah, there is going to be skeptics in
everything that you do, and there’s going to be people that provide validation to those
skeptics. But that shouldn’t deter the people who are
doing the real good in the world, and just keep at it.

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