by Auren E. Kaplan
Sun rays flowed and a cool breeze wasped by – but the main element in the air was social change – as I sat down with Brent Freeman, entrepreneur and CEO of MARC’s Movement, at Intelligentsia Cafe on Abbot Kinney in Venice, California. Brent Freeman is a CEO aspiring to nothing less than transcendental social change, using the power of ordinary consumption to empower extraordinary social enterprises. His platform is Roozt.com, a deal-of-the-day site that highlights one specific product from one social enterprise each day, offered in limited quantities, at an exclusive discount, for one day only.
The effects are manifold. One. A consumer mindset is awakened. No longer do we simply purchase goods for self-interest. When you make a purchase from a social enterprise showcased on Roozt.com, your proceeds support charities in addition to the social enterprises who manufactured the good. Why does this matter for the big picture? Shifting the consumer mindset. People feel good not because they bought shoes that make them look good (though if they’re Toms Shoes, they inevitably up your cool). They feelgood because the shoes they bought are contributing to a better world.
Two. Roozt.com, simply put, supports social enterprises. It is, to my knowledge, the first marketplace specifically designed to showcase the products of sustainable and social enterprises dedicated to a triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Above and beyond the obvious notion that it’s fun to purchase innovative, society-benefiting products like Paper-Feet – made from recycled billboard vinyl and eventually a featured product on Roozt – it’s also good for our world. That’s the kind of shopping that the world is waiting for. It is a shopping experience that Roozt.com will provide.
In my conversation with Brent, it became evident early on that the vision of Roozt transcends the deal of the day. Roozt stems from the larger MARC’s Movement, named not for any man but for what M.A.R.C. represents: Moral. And. Responsible. Companies. Brent’s MARC’s Movement site galvanizes and provides a platform for consumers to buy any number of products - from electronics, to clothes, to groceries – all produced by socially responsible companies vetted by Brent’s company, and with 5% of proceeds going to the charity of the consumer’s choice.
MARC’s Movement is obviously at the forefront of a dynamic and socially-driven consumer movement. What is exciting to Brent is the phenomenal user response thus far – Roozt.com has been averaging 1 to 2 user signups every 2 minutes! That adds up to a lot of socially responsible shoppers (and competition for you if you’re looking to buy a limited supply of those Paper-Feet!). But what Brent drove home to me in our interview was that Roozt is about enabling social entrepreneurs – his company is developing a wealth of information for active social entrepreneurs to share content, ideas, and best practices on how to make your social enterprise a success.
If there is any criticism of the social enterprise movement, it is that we talk a good game, and while we bring the passion we lack the action. Brent Freeman and Roozt.com show us that when it comes to bringing your social enterprise to life, you can hatch any idea you want.
Auren Kaplan is a social entrepreneur and advocate for engaging capitalism and the for-profit mechanism to create lasting and generative social change. He is passionate about building the social enterprise movement in urban communities from Los Angeles to Detroit and is Director of Social Media for The Hub LA, is Ambassador to Urban Social Entrepreneurs, and serves on the board of StartingBloc Los Angeles.