Since Feed Projects launched in 2007, the buy-a-bag, give-a-meal company has given away more than 95 million meals to children in the developing world. The company, which started selling just a simple burlap bag, has by now vastly expanded its offerings, partnering with companies like Shinola to make other bags and with companies like Target to created a whole array of Feed-branded products.
At the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Feed’s founder Lauren Bush explained how the company makes sure that it embeds impact in every step of its business model.
1: Focus On Product
For the first Feed bag, Bush says, “it was really important that the design really reflected the cause.” She modeled them off the grain bags that are used to distribute food aid around the world. Now that they’ve expanded to other designs, Bush says it’s important to put customers at the center. “Even nine years in, we’re looking for ways to extract customer feedback on our products and meet people where they’re at,” she says. “The give-back part has to be met with great products or services for customers to continue to get behind what you’re doing.”
2: Find Brands That Amplify Your Message
As a small company, working with bigger brands can be the best way to amplify your brand and increase your impact by getting in front of more people. “The key is to ultimately find where brand values align,” she says. “We’ve seen the most value out of partners who truly…get behind Feed.” But also, you should let your partners push you: Feed never would have done products like plates–until Target asked.
3: Turn Your Customers Into A Movement
“Allow your consumers to be a part of something bigger than just a brand,” says Bush, and they’ll push your message. Your audience is the best ambassador for getting the word out about your mission, so make sure you tell your story in a way that appeals to them. “Get the word out there, and tell your story, and engage others.”
4: Create Experiences
Feed is opening its first retail store and cafe in Brooklyn’s DUMBO soon, to create a physical space for its customers and to educate consumers more about world hunger. The company has also created a series called Feed Suppers, where its customers can host a dinner using materials downloaded from Feed’s website, and raise money to support Feed’s partners.