Matthew Colbert had his a-ha moment while running a PR consulting company here in DC. There he was, working on campaigns and fundraising, when he realized that you could use the massive amounts of data floating around to help people figure out whether the politicians they support, companies they invest in, or even just products they use are truly reflective of their values.
Take that up to the enterprise level, and, as he pointed out, “There’s never been data showing whether what you’re doing is helping you drive business around CSR [corporate social responsibility]. If you can build that bridge, that’s huge.”
Matthew and his co-founders are building that bridge with Spend Consciously. Their first product, an app called BuyPartisan, will be available soon. Spend Consciously, as described below, is on track to launch this summer. Here is their story, as told by Matthew:
In 140 characters or less, what does Spend Consciously do?
We are the 21st century nutrition label for your conscience; we help you ensure your spending matches your beliefs.
Why is Spend Consciously useful?
We provide busy consumers with the information they need to make conscious purchasing decisions with the peace of mind of knowing their spending is in line with their values.. Look at CSR and how it ties to shareholders. You can have a great deal of overall impact on the world and your bottom line. On the individual level you can see how you spend your money in a more informative manner.
What is your business model?
Our value to consumers is as a coordinated source of morally relevant information on their purchases. Our value to companies is as a continuous stream of up-to-date consumer feedback on their products and practices. We charge companies a flat fee to become a charter member. We charge organizations an annual fee, and they can start to utilize our tool as part of their overall communication and education budgets. We also serve as a conduit so anyone can buy stock without paying the broker fees. Finally, there are APIs and white labeling, so individual companies can geolocate coupons and learn more about the people using the coupons.
What do you need, and what do you want?
We are fortunate in the sense that we have users, especially since BuyPartisan is a niche product. We are going on to raise our next round. We feel like we’re at the precipice of something really exciting. What we want is to ultimately bring consumers even more types of information, in whatever context and to whatever depth they desire. We just need to get Buy Partisan out there first.
Who is your biggest competitor, and why are you better?
Our closest thing to a competitor is one that just got sold – GoodGuide. But we’re not trying to tell anyone who’s good or bad. We’re trying to help consumers get what they want. The approach we use allows people to empower their decisions and brings facts to the individual rather than crowdsourcing opinion and telling people what they ought to want..
I have to ask: Are you related to Stephen Colbert?
I’ve been told we’re distant cousins.