Last year, we got an out-of-the-blue email from a group we’d never heard of called This Good World. Most of the time, those emails hold links to low-cost Canadian pharmaceuticals, Nigerian prices in need of financial help, or ways to “please my lady in the bedroom” (hey-O!).
Luckily, This Good World wasn’t interested in any of that. No, they were actually in the midst of their initial membership building for their new Web service which aims to become a sort of craigslist or Angie’s List for customers who like their consumerism to have a benevolent edge.
We wanted to find out more about the idea behind TGW, so we talked with founders, Gavin Thomas + Lisa Kribs-LaPierre (above).
raven + crow: So, first off, for anyone who doesn’t already know, tell us what This Good World is.
Gavin Thomas + Lisa Kribs-LaPierre: This Good World is a platform that connects and supports good businesses so individuals can more easily discovery and support them, too.
Succinct; I like it. So how did it start—what made you all think of this in the first place?
It really started as a “scratch our own itch” project. We always had a tough time finding businesses that share the same values as us. We like supporting businesses and organizations that do really great things…it was just too hard to find them.
Makes sense. So how did you find the businesses that were involved up front? Like, how did you find us?
We spent a lot of time researching companies of all different shapes, sizes, industries and structures in our initial target cities. We identified a good mix of different types of companies doing different types of good and reached out to them directly. It was really important to us to not only highlight different types of business members right out of the gate, but also bring in businesses and organizations that could offer unique specialties and resources when the time comes for them to collaborate with one another to bring more good to the world.
Cool. Now, this is a broad one, but how do you define ‘good’?
Our short answer: This Good World never wants to be the judge of who or what is “good” or “not good enough” (passes/fails, wins/loses, etc.). The step up to that pedestal is too high for us, so we’d rather not try to go there.
Long version: Most importantly, we recognize and celebrate that we (as individuals) probably each define good differently on some level. That set the stage for our approach to the purposeful lack of definition or judgement of what’s good and what’s not. Through This Good World, each business gets to highlight what they think is “good,” while each individual who visits the site gets to decide who they want to support based on their individual interpretation of good. There are a lot of certification agencies and orgs out there that set out to define good by a list or test and tell others what ‘good’ is. We really admire and support these organizations. However, we just happen to believe ‘good’ should be left up to everyone individually. We also believe good of all sizes deserves to be highlighted, celebrated and supported on an equal playing field. While the so-called “impact scale” of varying types of good may differ, the importance of each bit of good is equally great.
Yeah, I imagine you’d never do anything but deliberate if you got caught up in the whole “good enough” debate on individual members. Do you feel like you all are re-creating something that used to exist maybe more naturally in smaller, less…connected societies? Like town hall meetings?
Funny you should mention this.
Our approach and collaborative mission is based on the recognition of “how it used to be.” Businesses, especially in small towns, seemed to come together in one room to talk about problems, challenges, objectives, events…the list goes on…all centered around ways they could use their business or organization resources to make their town a better place. Individuals in that town knew which businesses were making these extra efforts and, more often than not, those were the ones they supported. Given the hyperconnection and technologies we have today, why can’t we do this on a much larger scale? We think we can.
Yeah, it’s funny, when you think about it—and I’m sure much more agile minds than mine have tackled this concept with more depth + success—but the internet may give us the ability for the first time ever to be a large, yet still healthy, peaceful society via more effective communication. I don’t want to come across as a doe-eyed dreamer, but I’ve always thought that, for the most part, if you set any two people down for long enough, no matter how different they are, they’ll get along eventually because they’ll grow closer and closer to understanding each other. And the further a group gets from that initial concept and the more a society grows, the harder communication gets. But now we have the means to communicate instantly and so effectively. Was that something you all were trying to tap into somewhat…or am I just rambling at this point?
Love your way of thinking on the background of this question. We definitely agree. Today’s technology has a funny way of making the world feel smaller. Targeted discussion around one particular goal (in this case, doing more good) can lead to real action…and real action at scale.
Nice. So you all launched in, what, mid-January? How’s it going so far?
Things are great! We’re loving reading the stories of all these amazing brands and organizations who are doing good. It’s really, truly inspirational for us and makes what we’re doing fun.
Awesome. Post-launch, do you all have a new phase of work you’re in now? Are you focusing on finding more businesses to bring in or…something else?
We have a ton going on post launch, but really have three main focuses right now:
First, we’re definitely focused on growing our membership and user/visitor community.
Second, we’re actively starting to push out content and the stories about our current members and the good they are doing. We’ve gotten a ton of positive response from this content and are super pumped that it’s providing a good amount of support to our members. We’ve had a surprising amount of “we went there because of what we saw/read” or “one of our customers mentioned This Good World,” which is really exciting for us this early in the game. We’re going to do as much sharing and storytelling as possible.
Third, we’re really focusing on the collaboration piece—both building the on-site tools our members can use to talk to one another and making direct introductions between current members that we think can do really great things together.
From a technical/design sense, one good problem I could see you all having with the map interface is getting too many participants making it really hard to find what you’re searching for. Any plans to add a filter-by-service/-product kind of filter or anything?
We’ll be rolling out some cool filters for the map soon…stay tuned.
Nice. As of now, it looks like you all are covering stateside and then a company in Manchester—any plans to pull in companies from other countries?
The current international members actually reached out to us, which was great. We stress inclusion and openness with this platform, so we definitely didn’t want to turn them away. We’re focusing our outreach on the US right now, but definitely plan to move beyond that geographically when it makes sense.
Want to give a quick shout-out to any awesome and/or interestingly quirky This Good World businesses that people might like to hear about?
Beyond that, we can honestly say that each member has their own really awesome story, so it’s genuinely hard to give a shout out to individual ones. That said, we are telling some individual stories through our site and social channels, so we recommend checking those out!
Not to make this into a crummy commercial, but, for any business-owners reading this who might want to get involved, what’s the best way to do so?
Really simple – just head to thisgoodworld.com/join to see the different options of membership and select the one that makes the most sense.
And say someone doesn’t own a business, per se, but wants to get involved—anything they can do?
On an individual level, we threw together a page that details some ways to get involved, but, mainly, just checking out the site and supporting our members either with their wallets or voices, and following us on twitter/facebook where we spread the good word and invite everyone else to, too.