Sustainable Brands Open Innovation'12

Sustainability & Business

Sustainable Brands Open Innovation'12

Where the sustainability, brand strategy & innovation communities convene to shape the future

A global revolution is in full swing, and the Sustainable Brands Conference is where sustainability, brand and innovation leaders gather to learn, share and strategize to shape the future. SB 2012 was the largest gathering to date, a kinetic convergence of innovators from more than 150 companies from around the world finding new ways to create monumental disruption in traditional models of commerce and consumption. SB 2012 a space for systemic innovation with open, authentic, and straight conversation. By bringing the sustainable brands innovators together to share and tell their stories, we are not only creating a peer-to-peer network of like-minded individuals, we are accelerating the successful shift towards a flourishing future.

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 via Sustainable Brands.

What is Sustainable Brands?

Sustainable Brands is the global learning, collaboration, and commerce community committed to replenishing the world through better brands. Sustainable Brands offers news and views from thought and practice leaders, online and live events, a robust resource library, peer-to-peer learning groups, E-learning, and a set of solutions providers for corporate brand and sustainability professionals, social entrepreneurs and the eco-system of supporting value partners. Sustainable Brands is a production of Sustainable Life Media, located in San Francisco CA.

Now in its fourth year at the SB conference, the Innovation Open showcased highly innovative, socially conscious entrepreneurs that focused on helping companies create more sustainable brands. This year one finalist for the SB Innovation Open (SBIO) ‘ 12 was chosen through GOODMaker, an online competition for community-centric startup ideas. We interviewed Rei Wang, Strategic Partnerships Manager, GOODMaker and GOODMaker winners Adam Wangler and David Singer of Sea Level.  

Rei Wang on why GOODMaker and SBIO partnership works:
“Sustainable Brands is about Innovation Open we are about Open Innovation, it’s a great match…we love supporting up and coming startups and helping them further their careers and…achieve their goals and dreams”
According to Rei the judges in a “private selection process” choose finalists for the SB Innovation Open.  This is the first year the public had a say in the decision making process. The public was asked to apply and “send in their ideas about using sustainability as a tool for driving businesses to change.”  The GOOD Maker winner was a finalist at SB Innovation Open.
“We’re all about democratizing innovation, good ideas don’t have to come from strategists or consultants or people at the top they can come from students and entrepreneurs from anyone around the world…”
For the SB 13 Innovation Open GOODMaker will continue its partnership with Sustainable Brands, the application process will be on GOODMaker for both the GOODMaker winner (chosen by the public) and top 20 (chosen by the judges).
“GOOD and Sustainable Brands is a great brand alignment we’re all about driving social change and really promoting collaboration and open innovation.”
At the 2012 conference, the GOODMaker finalist was Sea Level- “A patent pending product engineered to increase ancillary revenue for the airline industry by creating a new advertising medium on in-flight plastic drinking cups made with post-consumed materials.”
Looking at the SB 12 Innovation Open Finalists they are later stage startups and many are serial entrepreneurs, whereas Sea Level is a very early stage startup.  (funding & other terms here).  The voting was all done online and the submitters used all forms of social media to get the word out – Twitter, Facebook, etc .  Sea Level was able to leverage their social media knowledge and make it to the finals, more on their personal story below.
Sea Level founders, Adam Wangler and David Singer of Sea Level share this dismal fact “The airline industry goes through 1 million plastic cups every 6 hours (watch video submission).”
“Idea came about from key observation when flying …we’ve created a product that will be a green product to serve drinks in and the increased cost to pay for that green aspect is going to be offset by advertisings on that cup. We are creating a green sustainable product but also creating new unique advertising medium.  ….it’s a captivated audience…this is a good way to resolve issue try to help the airline be a little more sustainable and reduce their overall footprint…”
The original idea was not a cup but a sleeve, by providing the cup Sea Level ensures the airline will use a greener cup. Sea Level has an airline on board and is looking for potential advertisers.
David informs me that he and Adam attended college together and won a competition at their school.  Along with their 3rd partner Bill Fuertges (David’s high school classmate) their skill set includes engineering, sales & marketing, and finance.
The Sea Level booth had Clementines attached to their business cards, which is one of the first things that caught my attention.  I asked about the story behind the Clementines.  David explained that the majority of sustainable companies are green and in an effort to stand out they went with orange.  “Orange is the new Green.”

Source: Ecopreneurist (


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