2012 ‘Rockstars of the New Economy’ Named & 6 Companies That Are Growing Rapidly While Doing Good

Including Better World Books, Revolution Foods, Sungevity, Sustainable Harvest, Lumni USA and Warby Parker

Businesses Honored for 3x-100x Revenue or Job Growth, and High Social or Environmental Impact

Today B Lab named the 2012 ‘Rockstars of the New Economy’, companies recognized for their ability to achieve both high growth and high social and environmental impact. Six businesses nationally were honored, including online bookseller Better World Books, food services provider Revolution Foods, solar company Sungevity, coffee importer Sustainable Harvest, and ‘Best Emerging Artists’ college access financier Lumni USA and eyewear company Warby Parker.

“These companies are leading a global movement to redefine success in business,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co founder of B Lab, the nonprofit organization that certifies B Corporations and governs the independent third party standard used to generate the comparable assessment of corporate impact. “These companies are the best in the world at being the best for the world,” Coen Gilbert added.

Better World Books has grown revenues 6x in the last 5 years, reaching $55 million in 2011, and has donated over 5 million books to those in need to“create a better world, one book at a time.” Learn more at http://bcorporation.net/betterworldbooks.

Revolution Foods has grown revenues 100x in the last 5 years, reaching $50 million in 2011. The company has served more than 30 million healthy meals to public school students across the country, fighting childhood obesity and ensuring students come to class ready to learn. Learn more at http://bcorporation.net/revolutionfoods.

Sungevity has expanded their staff by 3x in the last year, reaching 300 employees in 2011. The company has installed over 3,500 houses with solar, generating more than 8,500 kW and leading the way in the “rooftop revolution,” aiming to put solar on individual houses worldwide. Learn more at http://bcorporation.net/sungevity.

Sustainable Harvest has grown revenues by 5x in the last 5 years, reaching $76 million in 2011, and has channeled more than $200 million to rural, coffee farming communities in the last 15 years, improving the lives of the 2,000 families with whom they work. Learn more at http://www.bcorporation.net/sustainableharvest.

Lumni USA has financed its first class of 30 American, low income students with their innovative and scaleable financing model to make higher education available based on merit, not financial background. Over the last five years, the Lumni family of companies expanded from $1.5 million in assets under management to $25 million, reaching 2,500 students globally in 2011. Learn more at http://www.bcorporation.net/lumniusa.

Warby Parker has grown to 50 employees in its first 18 months and has helped distribute over 100,000 pairs of glasses to those in need living in emerging markets, increasing the individual’s productivity at work by 35 percent and boosting their income 20 percent. Learn more at http://www.bcorporation.net/warbyparker.

These Rockstars are highlighted in the 2012 B Corp Annual Report, recently published by the nonprofit B Lab which certifies B Corporations as having met rigorous, transparent standards of social and environmental performance.

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6 Companies That Are Growing Rapidly While Doing Good
You don’t have to make a choice between making money or making a difference. Just follow the model of these rock stars of the new economy.

For many companies, it’s the holy grail: grow revenue, increase jobs, and be socially responsible at the same time. Sometimes, social responsibility is sacrificed in the name of keeping companies afloat. But these six companies, dubbed Rockstars of the New Economy by B Lab, have achieved three to 100 times revenue or job growth while maintaining a high environmental and social impact. That’s success.

SUNGEVITY

Sungevity is part of a growing group of companies–including SunRun and SolarCity–that lease solar systems to customers, instead of forcing them to purchase the often-quite-expensive panels. In the past year, the company has tripled its staff to 300 employees. It has also installed solar panels on over 3,500 homes (generating 8,500 kW of power) since its founding in 2007.

REVOLUTION FOODS

This company, which partnered with the Nest Collective accelerator for children’s wellness food brands after it was founded, reached $50 million in revenue in 2011–increasing its revenue by 100 times over the past five years. Revolution Foods, which serves healthy school lunches to kids, has dished out over 30 million affordable meals to public school students since 2006.. A sample meal: honey-glazed chicken with roasted potatoes and garlic braised collard greens. Delicious. Revolution Foods was one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food for 2012.

LUMNI USA

Lumni, a company operating in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S., “creates funds that invest in the human capital of low-income students,” according to founder and CEO Felipe Vergara. The company’s social investment funds invest in college students, and in return, the students commit to paying back a fixed portion of their income for six months after they graduate (they don’t have to pay if they’re unemployed). Over the last five years, Lumni grew from $1.5 million in assets under management to $25 million. In 2011, it reached 2,500 students. Lumni USA recently financed its first class of American students.

BETTER WORLD BOOKS

Better World Books collects and sells books that libraries and colleges are otherwise going to toss in the trash and sets aside part of each book sale for its nonprofit literacy partners, including Books for Africa, Room to Read, and Invisible Children (that last one may be questionable in light of recent discoveries). In the past five years, the company increased its revenue by five times, growing to $50 million in 2011. Better World Books has donated over 5 million books (for every book sold, a book is donated).

SUSTAINABLE HARVEST

A coffee importer that emphasizes transparency across the entire supply chain, Sustainable Harvest reached $76 million in revenue in 2011 (a rate of five times growth in the last five years). It has also brought over $200 million to rural coffee farming communities over the past 15 years. And as we noted in a recent post, Sustainable Harvest is introducing the iPad to coffee farmers in an attempt to increase efficiency and traceability.

WARBY PARKER

Like Better World Books and Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker uses the “one for one” model–for every pair of glasses sold, the company gives a pair to someone in need via its nonprofit partners. Founded in 2010, Warby Parker now has 50 employees and has given away over 100,000 pairs of glasses.

These six companies are obviously not the only ones doing well by doing good. They are all B Corporations, which are required to meet legal accountability, environmental, and social performance standards upheld by the nonprofit B Lab. Other notably successful B Corporations include Patagonia, Method, and RecycleBank (see this post on the 20 Best Businesses for the World). There are 517 B Corps in total, but plenty of successful and socially responsible companies have yet to join.

Regardless of whether they are B Corps or not, Lumini’s Vergara believes that it’s “essential for every business to have a purpose that can connect people, staff, customers and partners with that mission.” And if these businesses can make lots of money while doing that, even better.
You don’t have to make a choice between making money or making a difference. Just follow the model of these rock stars of the new economy.

For many companies, it’s the holy grail: grow revenue, increase jobs, and be socially responsible at the same time. Sometimes, social responsibility is sacrificed in the name of keeping companies afloat. But these six companies, dubbed Rockstars of the New Economy by B Lab, have achieved three to 100 times revenue or job growth while maintaining a high environmental and social impact. That’s success.

SUNGEVITY

Sungevity is part of a growing group of companies–including SunRun and SolarCity–that lease solar systems to customers, instead of forcing them to purchase the often-quite-expensive panels. In the past year, the company has tripled its staff to 300 employees. It has also installed solar panels on over 3,500 homes (generating 8,500 kW of power) since its founding in 2007.

REVOLUTION FOODS

This company, which partnered with the Nest Collective accelerator for children’s wellness food brands after it was founded, reached $50 million in revenue in 2011–increasing its revenue by 100 times over the past five years. Revolution Foods, which serves healthy school lunches to kids, has dished out over 30 million affordable meals to public school students since 2006.. A sample meal: honey-glazed chicken with roasted potatoes and garlic braised collard greens. Delicious. Revolution Foods was one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Companies in Food for 2012.

LUMNI USA

Lumni, a company operating in Chile, Colombia, Mexico and the U.S., “creates funds that invest in the human capital of low-income students,” according to founder and CEO Felipe Vergara. The company’s social investment funds invest in college students, and in return, the students commit to paying back a fixed portion of their income for six months after they graduate (they don’t have to pay if they’re unemployed). Over the last five years, Lumni grew from $1.5 million in assets under management to $25 million. In 2011, it reached 2,500 students. Lumni USA recently financed its first class of American students.

BETTER WORLD BOOKS

Better World Books collects and sells books that libraries and colleges are otherwise going to toss in the trash and sets aside part of each book sale for its nonprofit literacy partners, including Books for Africa, Room to Read, and Invisible Children (that last one may be questionable in light of recent discoveries). In the past five years, the company increased its revenue by five times, growing to $50 million in 2011. Better World Books has donated over 5 million books (for every book sold, a book is donated).

SUSTAINABLE HARVEST

A coffee importer that emphasizes transparency across the entire supply chain, Sustainable Harvest reached $76 million in revenue in 2011 (a rate of five times growth in the last five years). It has also brought over $200 million to rural coffee farming communities over the past 15 years. And as we noted in a recent post, Sustainable Harvest is introducing the iPad to coffee farmers in an attempt to increase efficiency and traceability.

WARBY PARKER

Like Better World Books and Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker uses the “one for one” model–for every pair of glasses sold, the company gives a pair to someone in need via its nonprofit partners. Founded in 2010, Warby Parker now has 50 employees and has given away over 100,000 pairs of glasses.

These six companies are obviously not the only ones doing well by doing good. They are all B Corporations, which are required to meet legal accountability, environmental, and social performance standards upheld by the nonprofit B Lab. Other notably successful B Corporations include Patagonia, Method, and RecycleBank (see this post on the 20 Best Businesses for the World). There are 517 B Corps in total, but plenty of successful and socially responsible companies have yet to join.

Regardless of whether they are B Corps or not, Lumini’s Vergara believes that it’s “essential for every business to have a purpose that can connect people, staff, customers and partners with that mission.” And if these businesses can make lots of money while doing that, even better.

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