In Episode 36 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on October 15, 2011), Wendel Rosen green business partners Bill Acevedo and Donald Simon sit down together to discuss the recent passage of AB 361, the new Benefit Corporation legislation signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown on October 9, 2011.   The legislation becomes effective January 1, 2012. 

Green Business attorney Donald Simon

Wendel Rosen's Donald Simon helped draft and promote new Benefit Corporation legislation (AB 361)

The legislation was originally advanced by B Lab, a non-profit based out of Pennsylvania and New York that has been promoting a private certification label for companies called “B Corp.”  So, what are B Corporations?  They are companies that choose to publicly measure themselves against metrics that include social and environmental missions.  (By the way, Wendel Rosen is a certified B Corporation).  Last November, B Lab tapped an elite team of lawyers in California, Donald along with Jonathan Storper and John Montgomery, to form the working legal group to craft and promote the legislation, which became known as AB 361.   Assembly Bill 361 (Huffman)  creates a new corporate structure available to companies that want to build social and environmental values into their core mission.  

Adopting the Benefit Corporation form of entity will protect corporate officers (and hold them accountable) for socially- and environmentally-driven decision making.   It requires transparency and verification from those companies choosing to take its form.  Donald and Bill explain how this legislation will help to differentiate genuine core corporate values from great marketing hype in the sustainable business marketplace and the steps companies can take to switch to this new corporate form.

Erik Trojian, Director of Policy for B Lab, joins the conversation to help explain what’s happening nationally to introduce Benefit Corporation.  For example, in New York, similar legislation is currently awaiting the governor’s signature.  There are several other states that have already enacted these types of laws.  With the passage of these bills across the country, it increases the opportunities for new purpose-driven investment dollars to support innovative businesses.  

States that have passed B Corp legislation: 

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Vermont
  • New Jersey

Forthcoming legislation: 

  • Colorado
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan 

We invite you to learn more about this new form of corporate entity and what it might mean for your green business by listening to the interview.  Then tell us what you think.
Will your company consider this form of entity? 

Post Links:

Interview discussion regarding AB 361 Benefit Corporation legislation: Episode 36 of The Wendel Forum (27.35 minutes, mp3)

B Corporations / B Lab website: http://bcorporation.net/

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Wendel Rosen’s B Corp Listing: http://www.bcorporation.net/wendelrosen

Around the Capital legislation tracking website: http://www.aroundthecapitol.com/Bills/AB_361/20112012/

Tracking B Corp Legislation Around the Country: http://www.bcorporation.net/publicpolicy

Benefit Corporation Legal Provisions and FAQ from B Lab: http://www.bcorporation.net/resources/bcorp/documents/Benefit%20Corporation%20-%20Legal%20Provisions%20and%20FAQ.pdf

Donald Simon website bio: www.wendel.com/dsimon

Bill Acevedo website bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

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Each year we at Wendel Rosen look forward to the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum in San Francisco.  This year’s theme “The Access Economy” will take a closer look at the relationships between brands and consumers.  The San Francisco event takes place on October 20, 2011 and is sure to inspire, as well as provide great opportunities for networking.

Event program:  

Alex Bogusky, iconoclastic ad man, who made Crispin Porter + Bogusky the world’s most awarded agency, then turned heads with the launch of the FearLess Revolution, shares his inspiring story and introduces Common, a collaborative brand for social entrepreneurs. 

Bonnie Nixon of The Sustainability Consortium

Bonnie Nixon, who redefined supply chain ethics and stakeholder engagement as Director of Environmental Sustainability at HP, talks about scaling sustainability in the world’s most impactful corporations from her new role as Executive Director of The Sustainability Consortium.

BBMG unveils a new branding campaign and the lessons learned from a case study with the founders of Getaround, a fast-growing, San Francisco-based Access Economy icon, winner of the 2010 BBMG Collective Prize presented by Sustainable Industries.

The featured presentations will be followed by interactive Q&A with the experts moderated by Triple Pundit founder Nick Aster (a prior Wendel Forum guest).

In preparation for the event, show host Bill Acevedo managed to get a few minutes with Bonnie and Alex for Episode 35 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on October 8, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio).  These interviews give a brief preview of some of the themes to be explored on the 20th. 

In the first segment, Bill talks with Bonnie about The Sustainability Consortium, a diverse group of stakeholders who have come together to drive a new generation of sustainable products and services.  A number of private retail and consumer product companies are engaged in the Consortium, along with representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academics.  All of these stakeholders are exploring ways to advance science to drive a new generation of innovative products and supply networks that tackle the environmental, social and economic imperatives we face today.

Bonnie explains how the future of The Sustainability Consortium is working to enhance science to better inform decision makers on the sustainability of products.  This research will generate new indicators and methodologies for understanding and evaluating the environmental attributes and impacts of products.  This transparency could empower companies, investors, consumers and other stakeholders to match business initiatives, investment decisions and purchasing choices related to specific companies and products to their own set of values and priorities. Imagine a world where you could use your phone app to scan a product and get a window into its entire lifecycle through the bar code!

In the second half of the show, Bill talks with FearLess Cottage’s Chief Creative Insurgent Alex Bogusky, who spent the first part of his career building great brands for companies.  At some point he became disillusioned with what he calls the one-sidedness of the brand/consumer relationship.  He took that frustration and founded The FearLess Cottage, described on its website as “an informal clubhouse for insurgents in a new consumer revolution.”

Alex explains that there is a current window of power in the hands of consumers to help shape companies and

Photo of Alex Bogusky

Alex Bogusky of FearLess Cottage

products to better match their values through consumption and buying habits. By asserting this “voting choice” the consumer/citizen can influence even the large corporations, which have considerable sway over government — and, in turn, over us.  He suggests that, while there is a potential for more transparency, consumers don’t always choose to look as closely as we should, saying that “democracy hasn’t permeated capitalism yet.” He challenges the listener to use resources like Good Guide and to vote with purchasing dollars as a way to combat corporate special interests. It is a challenge we should all take.

For those who are in the Bay Area and have an interest in a deeper discussion of these topics, we’ll see you on the 20th at The St. Regis for the Sustainable Industries Economic Forum.  
Post Links:

Listen to the interviews with Bonnie and Alex: Episode 35 of The Wendel Forum

The Sustainability Consortium website: http://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/

The Good Guide website: www.goodguide.com

The FearLess Cottage website: http://fearlessrevolution.com/

Sustainable Industries Economic Forum event registration: http://sustainableindustries.com/events/economic-forums/sustainable-industries-economic-forum 

BBMG website: http://bbmg.com/

Triple Pundit website: http://www.triplepundit.com/ 

Bill Acevedo online bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 34 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on October 1, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons speaks with Flory Wilson, Director of International Standards at B Lab.  Flory has been instrumental in helping to develop a new rating system for impact investing in North America and around the world – GIIRS.

In their discussion, Flory and Dick discuss the origin of “impact investing,” a term that really only came into popularity about three years ago. Impact investing refers to investors placing capital in companies and funds that deliver positive financial returns while delivering positive social and environmental impacts on their communities.  The concept is relatively simple, but achieving a reliable way to measure, verify and report on a company or fund’s impact has been a challenge, leaving investors with no real way to gauge their impact investments.

Investors knew how to judge returns on their money – profits (just look at the bottom line).  But what has been lacking is a way to analyze and report the other two contributors to the triple bottom line (referring to people, planet and profits). 

The GIIRS crew has spent the last couple of years setting up a framework for reporting and verifying the results of entities that might be desirable vehicles for impact investors.  The audit process takes into account such aspects of a company as governance structure, entity ownership structure, workforce engagement, community support, and environmental footprint.  They look at how the company manages the supply chain and distribution structure and the actual environmental impact of the company’s products and services. 

When assessing a fund, the rating system takes into account the fund manager’s track record, how they screen investors and portfolio companies, how rigorous their standards are, how they manage the investment over time, and their investment exit strategies.

Flory explains some of the reporting features and the review process, as well as the types of businesses and funds that are currently participating in the program.

GIIRS recently had a “coming out” party of sorts at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.  During this event held September 20-22, 2011, fifteen pioneer investors with $1.50 billion in impact assets, declared their preference for GIIRS-rated funds and companies. They included JP Morgan, Prudential, the Rockefeller Foundation, private equity funds, family foundations and philanthropic organizations, as well as international public sector financial institutions.

Listen in to the episode and let us know your thoughts.  Will these types of metrics have a significant impact on the future of investing?  What might be the next steps in this evolution?

SHOW NOTE:
Tune in on Saturday, October 8, 2011, to get a sneak peak preview of Sustainable Industries Economic Forum featured speakers Bonnie Nixon, executive director of  The Sustainability Consortium, and Alex Bogusky, founder of the FearLess Revolution.  The Forum will be held on October 20 in San Francisco and there is still time to get your ticket by visiting the Sustainable Industries website.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Flory Wilson: Episode 34 of The Wendel Forum(27:45 min, mp3)

GIIRS website:  www.giirs.org

Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting website info: http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/ourmeetings/2011/default.asp?Section=OurMeetings&PageTitle=CGI

Sustainable Industries Economic Forum website: http://sustainableindustries.com/events/economic-forums/sustainable-industries-economic-forum

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 33 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on September 24, 2011), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Peter Walters, COO of Zinc Air Inc. and an expert on the topic of how to deliver utility-scale energy (particularly from renewable sources) more efficiently.  Peter provides explanations regarding the concepts of power firming and peak shifting, along with a number of other aspects related to safe and predictable energy delivery. 

His company, which is based in Kalispell, Montana, is the developer of the Zinc Redox flow battery.  According to the company’s website:

Zinc chemistry reduces cost through the use of abundant and locally available materials. Zinc Redox batteries have high energy density, low cost, safe operation, and are designed to be the greenest battery technology on the market. Using a flow battery technology, Zinc Redox focuses on grid storage applications including energy peak shifting and renewables (solar/wind) integration, designed to address the issues of matching demand with supply and variability.

Peter identifies several of the problems we face in the U.S. related to our delivery of energy to consumers.  According to him, we waste about 60% of the energy we produce, we have an aging energy infrastructure, and demand continues to increase.  Not only that, but new applications (such as electric vehicles) are placing new stresses on our energy delivery systems.

Current generation and transmission of energy throughout the grid fail to adequately address the issues of real time supply and demand. Historically, we have struggled to effectively store energy so that it can be harnessed and released to the grid when needed.  The development of better battery storage technologies opens the possibility of load shifting and other tactics to deliver energy when supply is required, not just when we are able to produce it.

During his interview, Peter explains some of the limits of our current infrastructure and how battery storage may solve many of the problems. He and Dick also discuss some of the specific challenges as they relate to the production of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. 

Need more proof that this technology is heading in the right direction?  The flow battery solutions being developed by Zinc Air start with safety.  The chemicals used are non-toxic and not corrosive, a step forward from what we typically think of in batteries.  The company spends a lot of time on the issue of safety in the product development and the installation of these systems, addressing concerns related to both man-made and natural disasters. And they know they have to do this all at the right price point.  
Show Note:
This Saturday (October 1, 2011) tune in to The Wendel Forum at 11:30 a.m. on Green 960 AM radio for a conversation with Flory Wilson of B Labs, who will reveal the new Global Impact Investing Ratings System (GIIRS), which is a comprehensive and transparent system for assessing the social and environmental impact of companies and funds with a ratings and analytics approach analogous to Morningstar investment rankings and Capital IQ financial analytics.
Post links:

Listen to the interview with Peter Walters:  Episode 33 of The Wendel Forum(27.48 min, mp3)

Zinc Air Inc. company website: www.zincairinc.com

Wikipedia entry for “flow battery”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 17, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio) show host Bill Acevedo takes a closer look at our oceans, a subject near and dear to his heart as an avid surfer. Show guests are Ashok Kamal, CEO of Bennu, and Dean LaTourrette, Executive Director of Save The Waves Coalition, a non-profit engaged in coastal protection.

Ashok Kamal Photo

Ashok Kamal of Bennu

Ashok was the author of “Blue is the New Green” a recent blog post on Triple Pundit that gotten a fair amount of attention for its focus on the issues of preserving our oceans.

He argues that when we talk about environmental issues, we often fail to talk about our oceans as a part of this holistic system. Problems ranging from trash in our oceans and its impact on the ocean ecosystem to the acidification of our oceans can go largely unnoticed, but are not separate from what happens above the waterline.  Bennu, his social media marketing company, has taken on a number of initiatives to build creative and tactical online campaigns supporting eco-friendly companies and causes, including a recent one called Ocean Aid.    

Dean LaTourrette Photo

Dean LaTourrette of Save the Waves Coalition

Dean shares some of the programs that Save the Waves has in place to help combat issues around sea level rise and coastal erosion. He points to a study just released bySan Francisco State University professor Phil King that attempts to place economic valuations on coastal environmental losses for California cities.  

Other Save the Waves programs discussed on the show include the Surfenomics program (which has put an environmental and economic value to Mavericks of about $24 million annually), world surfing reserves, and analysis of the fight to save Sloat beach, a 3 mile stretch that offers world-class surfing in San Francisco.  

Show Posts:

Listen to the interview: Episode 32 of The Wendel Forum (27+ minutes, mp3)

Bennu: www.bennuworld.com  (from here you’ll find links to all of their social media pages)

Blue is the New Green blog post on Triple Pundit:  http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/09/blue-new-green-environmentalists-need-pay-closer-attention-ocean/

Save the Waves website: www.savethewaves.org

Bill Acevedo’s website bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 31 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on September 10, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio) Danny Ronen and Jean-Francois Daniel of The Fair Trade Spirits Company sit down with show host Bill Acevedo to explain how what you drink can make a difference. 

Quinoa vodka?  That’s right.  This company brings together French distillers and Bolivian farmers for an award winning product (nominated Best Tasting Vodka 2009 at the New York Spirits Awards and Gold Medal at the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute 2009).  Their other products include such Fair Trade ingrediants as goji fruit (the fruit that contains most antioxidants in the world) and coffee.
 
Photo of Products from Fair Trade Spirits Company

Fair Trade Spirits Company products sold under the FAIR label

With plants and production facilities in France, they are using their commitment to sustainability and Fair Trade to ensure a direct relationship between farmers and consumers.  They discuss the importance of creating a sustainable product without compromising taste and quality. 
 
 

Did you know that September 19 – 25 is the Fifth Annual San Francisco Cocktail Week

 

Show note:

Tune in Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 11:30 am when Bill interviews Ashok Kamal of Bennu and Dean LaTourrette of Save the Waves to discuss our environment through the lens of our world’s oceans.

 

Post links:

Listen to the interview with Fair Trade Spirits Company: Episode 31 of The Wendel Forum(27:48 mins, mp3)

Fair Trade Spirits company website:  http://www.fairtradespirits.com/

Green 960 AM radio: www.green960.com

Bill Acevedo website bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Fifth Annual San FranciscoCocktail Week:  http://sfcocktailweek.com/about.html

 

In Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on September 3, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons sits down to chat with Rory Bakke, President of Sustainable Concepts Studio and Director of Sustainability for GreenBiz

In addition, Rory is a key author of the newly developed environmental standards for enterprises through Underwriters Labs (UL) to develop the environmental standards for enterprises.  UL Environment (or ULE) is currently working on releasing ULE 880 (for manufacturing organizations) and ULE 881 (for service providers).

Photo of Rory Bakke in studio

Rory Bakke in studio with The Wendel Forum

During her conversation with Dick, she explains the process that UL has used to develop the standards and gives an overview of the program.  These standards have been developed with global input and an emphasis on being able to audit each individual aspect.  To participate, a company will first need to meet a baseline set of prerequisites. 

Beyond that, there is a point system for core requirements and leadership indicators in five major domains:

  •  Environment (including aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions, water and energy efficiency, compliance with regulations, product stewardship, etc.)
  • Governance (obligations to shareholders, board actions and  corporate practices)
  • Labor and workforce 
  • Community engagement and human rights
  • Customers & Supply Chain (resolving issues with customers, dealing with supply chains huge factor)

While there are already many forms of product certification, this comprehensive set of standards is meant for the enterprise or organizational level.  Listen to the interview and let us know what you think about the program.  Is this certification something that your enterprise would value?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Rory Bakke: Episode 30 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

Underwriters Lab Environment website: http://www.ulenvironment.com/ulenvironment/eng/pages/

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 29 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on August 27, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Dick Lyons sits down to chat with Nick Flores, Director of Investment and Entrepreneur Services for Investors’ Circle.

Investors’ Circle (IC) is a network of more than 150 angel investors, professional venture capitalists, foundations and family offices that are using private capital to promote the transition to a sustainable economy. Since 1992, Investors’ Circle has facilitated the flow of $146 million into 225 companies and small funds addressing social and environmental issues.

Of note, Investors’ Circle and SJF Institute announced a merger effective July 1, 2011.

In his conversation with Dick, Nick discusses the investment network and some of the many opportunities they have for sustainable businesses to obtain exposure to investors.

Companies in the portfolio are generally not start-ups, but are operational having started with friends and family investors. The investors who participate in IC want to know that the business founder has some skin in the game. Once the company is ready to raise its Series A round of stock, it’s time to submit to IC.

Of the types of companies that IC serves, there are six primary sectors. They are identified as:

  • Cleantech, Energy & Environmental solutions
  • Sustainable Consumer Products
  • Education (focused on K-12)
  • Health, Biotech & Wellness
  • Community and Economic Development
  • Social Media and Software

IC has a number of opportunities throughout the year for companies to showcase their business to the investor community. Currently, they are promoting both an Online Venture Fair (September 14) as well as their Fall 2011 Venture Fair in Philadelphia.

Show Note:

Tune in to Green 960 AM radio on Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 11:30 a.m. for an interview with Rory Bakke, President of Sustainable Concepts Studio and Director of Sustainability at GreenBiz. She’s been working with Underwriters Lab to develop the environmental health and sustainability standards for companies. While there are many forms of product certification, this comprehensive set of standards is meant for the enterprise or organizational level.  Should be an interesting discussion.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Nick Flores: Episode 29 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

Investors’ Circle website: http://www.investorscircle.net/

Press release re Investors’ Circle and SJF Institute merger: http://investorscircle.net/accelsite/media/2796/IC%20SJF%20Merger.pdf

SJF Institute website: www.sjfinstitute.org

Dick Lyons website bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

In Episode 28 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on August 20, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), guest Thomas Simone, President and CEO of Simone & Associates,  shares with show host Dick Lyons  his perspective on the investment landscape for health and natural products.  He’s got a long history in the business, having work with companies including United Natural Foods (distributor for Whole Foods) and Spectrum Organics (oils and supplements), among many others.  His early involvement in this industry started around 20 years ago, after watching his daughter’s interest in natural products.

Tom Simone of Simone & Associates

Tom Simone, CEO of Simone & Associates

Over the years, he’s seen this industry as one of the highest growth areas in the economy.  What common denominators for success does he see?  The successful companies all start with a great team. Products don’t build a company, the people do.  An operating action plan is critical.  Tom is able to bring infrastructure and practical advice to start up company teams to help them turn their visions into sustainable enterprises.

He discusses the triple bottom line and its impact on investment decisions. He offers insight into how investors might go about valuing a business, how profits and prospects affect the valuation, and what kind of return investors might expect out of a business opportunity.

This is a man who knows the natural food and product landscape; in fact he’s been instrumental in shaping it.  We hope you enjoy what he has to say.  

SHOW NOTES:

Tune in to Green 960 AM radio tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. (Pacific) to hear an interview with Nick Flores of Investor’s Circle. 

 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Tom Simone:  Episode 28 of The Wendel Forum  (mp3, 27 min 48 sec)

About show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

 

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

In Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on August 13, 2011), Jose Corona, Cheif Executive Officer of Inner City Advisors (ICA), shares with show host Dick Lyons how the organization promotes the competitive advantages of locating a business in an inner city neighborhood.

Founded in 1996 in Oakland, the nonprofit group was born out of a Harvard Business School initiative.  Its mission is to help both companies and communities by promoting the advantages of locating in inner city neighborhoods and by providing companies with the advice and resources to grow their businesses.

Currently, they use a three-pronged approach:

1) They offer portfolio companies a network of experienced advisors that can provide both strategic and tactical, real-world advice to address the company’s business problems.

2) They provide an advanced entrepreneur program, modeled after a Stanford business course, to provide company leaders with the education they need.

3) They are developing a network of capital sources, including an ICA fund, to help portfolio companies grow when they’re ready.

Among their portfolio are several familiar names in the green community.  Who have they helped?  Well, here are a few names that you may recognize:

ICA is doing some great work.  And the proof is in the numbers.  Jose shares some inspiring statistics in his interview.  The companies in their portfolio are creating jobs and infusing wages and wealth into inner city neighborhoods. 

Let us know what other innovative business growth programs you see out there!

SHOW NOTE: Tune in to The Wendel Forum on Green 960 AM radio tomorrow, August 20, at 11:30 a.m. for an interview with health and natural product investment expert Thomas Simone.

Post Links:

Listen to interview with Jose Corona: Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum (mp3, 27.47 min.)

Inner City Advisors website: http://innercityadvisors.org/

ICA Case Study about Premier Organics: http://innercityadvisors.org/companies/portfolio/premier-organics/

Dick Lyons bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com