We All Need to be United by Blue
I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of start-up companies and recently came upon one that is not only doing something different, but defines the “Gen Y + Social Responsibility = Cool Start-Up” stereotype.
I came across United By Blue when looking at Youtern.com, an internship-matching site that caters to start-ups and one-day entrepreneurs. When I was interviewing Youtern CEO, Mark Babbit, he mentioned United by Blue as an up and coming start-up to look out for. I mentioned United By Blue (or UBB, as they are affectionately known), in an article I wrote about Youtern for Forbes.com, and had both an email in my inbox and a “tweet” from the marketing manager of United By Blue the next day—she wanted to chat.
I was excited to talk with UBB (I am a huge fan of interesting strangers proactively reaching out to me), but I was even more excited by what I learned.
United By Blue has a simple value proposition: For every product they sell (T-shirts, bags, and a small line of jewelry for now), they will remove 1 pound of trash from our world’s oceans and waterways. And there’s none of this “buy something and we’ll pay someone else to do something good” business that many companies hawk. The UBB team organizes and hosts cleanups with community volunteers both independently and through their retail partners and colleges and universities across the country. “We like to say that we are as much in waste management as much as we are in apparel,” quipped Alli Blum, eager-tweeting marketing manager.
While the value proposition was simple, it became clear through a conversation with Alli that they have their work cut out for them. The “green” movement gets a lot of press, but the blue movement gets much less. The company’s founder, twenty-something Brian Linton (who grew up with 30 fish tanks in his bedroom) recognized the interconnectedness of the oceans to all life (be it on land or on sea, human or animal), and started UBB to help alleviate ocean stressors (like the 14 billion pounds of trash that end up there every year) and to connect a concrete environmental action with every purchase.Continued on the next page