Get Started With Your New Green Business, No Matter How Small the Start

Revolution Foods is a fascinating start up — a for-profit company focused on a public health issue (obesity), in a highly regulated “industry” (meals served in schools), with venture capital funding. When I heard that co-founder and CEO Kristin Groos Richmond was going to speak about the founding of her green company, I had to go hear how she got the idea, how she got Whole Foods to become a partner before Revolution Foods was even off the ground, and how she obtained venture funding.
RevFood2At an event co-sponsored by the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship and the Davis Net Impact chapter, on January 24, 2008, Groos Richmond advised attendees to do a pilot project when starting a company. Although she acknowledged the importance of the startup business fundamentals (identifying a market need and researching what the market really wants) before starting, her advice was to get started with a pilot project as soon as possible.

Groos Richmond and her co-founding partner, Kirsten Tobey, were in the MBA program at UC Berkeley when they started a pilot program to provide healthy meals for children in one elementary school. By having an actual project lined up, it was easier to get Whole Foods Northern California to provide food at their best pricing (usually reserved for extremely large customers). And by successfully completing the pilot project, and proving there is demand for the service, that good food can be provided at very low prices, and that the founders have what it takes to run this highly regulated and time-sensitive business, it was possible to get JPMorgan’s Bay Area Equity Fund to provide initial funding to launch the Company with food service for four schools.

It’s easy for an eco-entrepreneur or any entrepreneur to write a business plan with a multi-million dollar marketing budget and become attached to the “ideal launch plan”. However, every entrepreneur should have a couple of back-up plans of how to start the business with less money. And, those back up plans should reduce a future investor’s perceived risk, by providing proof of the market need and by attracting credibility-building partners, customers, and/or advisors.

Hearing Groos Richmond speak, reminded me of my conversation with Brilliant Earth co-founder, Beth Gerstein, who told me that she advices future ecopreneurs to forgo perfection and to pursue the possible. Startup businesses are built step by step and can become quite successful by starting modestly.

If you are an eco-entrepreneur, please use the “comment” link below to tell us how you got your startup off the ground.

About the Author

A strategy and marketing consultant, Leah enjoys highlighting the efforts of, and providing information for, social entrepreneurs. In her consulting practice, she works with cause-related businesses and enlightened investors--to see people succeed at doing good for the planet and local communities while doing good for themselves. Leah has a B.S. in business from UC Berkeley and an MBA and Certificate of Public Management from Stanford University. More information at
  • Sharon

    It’s always great to see new mission-driven companies like this. School lunches are definitely something that need to be improved!

  • david

    I am wondering how my company can be certified or acknowledged as a green or enviormently friendly company.

  • Pingback: Idea Blob: An Infectious Way to Fund Your Green Business : Ecopreneurist()

  • Leah Edwards

    Hi David,
    Be sure to see MC’s post and the comments following about green certification:

  • We sell some very unique, live, fermented beverages at farmers markets and health food stores around the bay area. We built our business from the ground up, with our only capital being a credit card. We started producing products out of our home and selling them to parents who singed up for a once a week delivery at my son’s school. We then landed a very inexpensive part time slot at a certified kitchen. From here we joined a raw foods collective that allowed us to get into 7 farmers markets to sell our products. Next, a small, local distributor discovered our products and took us under his wing. We have secured our first businesses loan of 10,000 that will allow us to move into a larger production facility and we hope to sign on with a major distributor that will bring us into multi-regions. We are now looking for angel investors who want to help fund us so our niche products can really take flight!

  • I think that this a great way to sell products as well as tap into the open door to wealth,
    this is a opportunity to help others and get wealth all at the same time.