This pitch was a great example of 5 decades of different approaches to the relationship between business and the environment. First, we have Dragon Dave with his false sense of guilt when he says: “I’m bad because I cut down trees to make books”. He’s basically saying that there’s nothing wrong with making a buck. This sounds like the 1960s. Second, there’s Kevin who is still thinking like1970s Friedman. “What’s the business model here?” he asks. Then there’s Jim who sees this as an opportunity to reduce costs and make more money by offshoring like it’s 1990. “I could place a call to Honk Kong before you leave here today.” But that goes against the mission of the company. Then, there’s Arlene who sounds more interested in marketing the story. She does state the 2000s triple bottom line mantra of people planet profits. And then there’s Bruce, 2010ish, who was the most authentic in his resonance with the start up. “I planted 3 million trees.” So the young entrepreneurs decide to partner with Arlene and Bruce, even though Jim’s deal was better financially.
These entrepreneurs started their pitch with the objective of funding environmental regeneration. The apparel business is just a means to an end. There’s just one thing that doesn’t add up. The link between threads and trees isn’t evident. A 2020 sustainable business model would find a way to merge the value proposition of renewing forests with something that would be coherent with the preoccupations of their customers like manufacturing wooden furniture, toys or building products for example. Basically, if you’re going to put so much effort in managing marginal activities, might as well make it an integral part of your value proposition.