Check out this picture! It was taken yesterday at the Whole Foods Market in La Jolla!
As you can see throughout the NIKA website, the NIKA team as a whole has a ton fun promoting our brand in the community. Whether it's a farmers market or a street fair, the NIKA team is a youth oriented group that always brings positive energy everywhere we go.
By Jeff Church, Co-Founder of NIKA
As we've been together building NIKA over the past year, I've shared some personal work and life stories with some of our team members. A few of the team members, otherwise known as gluttons for punishment, have asked if I could share more of my experiences. Although I'm a little embarrassed and very humbled that you would like to hear more, I thought that it might be fun to start occasionally sending a story as I come across one or reflect on one.
Every business wants to be successful, right? That's what we call a slow pitch question in a softball game! Anybody can answer that one. Why, however, is it so important for NIKA to make it? One word - "sustainability". We and other companies like NIKA need to be successful because these types of business (ie those that donate all or a large portion of their profits) offer an incredible breakthrough in the ways that charities can solve for a possible shrinking donor income stream. Without businesses that give back, NGO's must rely on fundraising to achieve their donation and project objectives. When times are good, people are very willing to write checks to support their causes. However, when times are bad people will need to take care of themselves first and if there's anything left over, then support their cause. Let me give you a short example.
At NIKA we are all about helping to end poverty through bringing clean water to those who don't have access to it. One way we do that is through the donation of wells with our profits. Suppose, instead of selling bottled water, we were focused on having people write checks that we would then donate to water projects...that would be a logical approach. If year after year our NGO's depended on us to give them our donations to build their wells they would be very happy with us. If, however, the economy went into a recession as we're currently in or if another world catastrophe occurred, such as Haiti, then our donors could logically tell us that while they believe very much in our cause they feel the need to make sure that their personal finances are shored up or that they need to take a break this year from supporting us to support the efforts in Haiti, for example. We would certainly understand, however, our local NGO partners who have people in country depending on them to build wells and to bring clean water, could be hurt very badly. Although this is simple example, the records of donations over the past thirty years bear this out. When tough economic times occur, donations tend to drop by about 5%. This means layoffs and program cuts.
NIKA's model is one that doesn't need to rely on economic cycles or donor priorities but rather it uses the market place to create the profits which are then contributed back into the causes. Businesses such as NIKA are challenging to get to a critical mass level but if done correctly they can result in a steady stream of profits to be donated. Consumers also tend to support these type of brands as long as price and quality are competitive. Recently, I read a survey that was done outside of a well known supermarket in White Plains, New York. One hundred shoppers were asked the following question: "If your supermarket offered new food products that were equal in price and quality to the products that you now buy, and you knew that 100% of the profit from these new products would be used to end world hunger, would you buy these new products?" 92 of 100 shoppers answered "yes." We think that this is pretty amazing. Over 90% of shoppers are willing to buy "cause" based products. NIKA clearly fits into this type of a business. What this says to us is that the only thing keeping us from realizing significant, nationwide market penetration is brand awareness and distribution. Through our various marketing efforts including grass roots, professional sales, viral tactics and more, our focus must be on making the consumer aware enough of NIKA that as they are making their water decisions they say, "Oh, that's NIKA, I saw them at my local street fair and they do great things for society and for the environment. I think that I'll give them a try versus Evian or Fiji!" I'm pretty confident that we can successfully get the nationwide distribution as the brand grows.
There are other companies as well that are doing similar things. If you're interested and have a moment, check out these companies and these You Tube links:
Newman's Own - The Grand Daddy of all for profit businesses that donate back their profits. They donate all of their profits, now over $250 million to charity.
Give Something Back Business Group - An office products supply business that donates all of their profits.
Finnegan's Beer - A beer brand committed to giving back.
TOM's - For every pair of shoes that they sell, they donate a pair to children without.
Future business and philanthropic solutions must be thought of out of the box. They then must be implemented with fundamentals and they must retain their focus on not get easily diverted into trying to do all things for all people.
Many people have commented that they love the NIKA website with all of its colorful imagery and information on the water crisis and environment. In addition to all of this, we have put together an incredible library of hard to find articles in a section of the website called "Learning Resources." Here, we have provide a number of resources on topics ranging from the pro/cons on bottled water/plastic bottles, recycling, carbon offsetting, climate change as well as the poverty and water crisis. Our Learning Resources page is always being updated and we pride ourselves on providing unique articles from a variety of perspectives so that our readers can educate themselves on these issues. So we encourage everyone to visit the Learning Resources section and please email us at email@example.com if you have any suggestions on topics or articles that you'd like to see in there.
By Jeff Church, Co-Founder of NIKA
As we've been together building NIKA over the past year, I've shared some personal work and life stories with some of our team members. A few of the team members, otherwise known as gluttons for punishment, have asked if I could share more of my experiences. Although I'm a little embarrassed and very humbled that you would like to hear more, I thought that it might be fun to start occasionally sending a story as I come across one or reflect on one. If you don't want to get these, feel 100% free to tell me to take you off the list. I've also included some of my friends and family who im sure will feel even more compelled to either abuse me or send a virus directly back to my computer! On the other hand, if you have a friend that you think would like to be included, please email me their address and I'll include them as well. Since this is the first one, I wanted to write about one of the most important qualities in life and in starting a business....Perseverance.
A cool story that you've probably heard but I always enjoy reading again is about someone that we all know. I'm not sure who wrote it but here it is. "He failed in business in '31. He was defeated for state legislator in '32. He tried another business in '33. It failed. His fiancée died in '35. He had a nervous breakdown in '36. In '43 he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in '48 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in '55. He lost. The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In '59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated. In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States." I think that one of the many lessons to learn here is that the difference between history's boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere. I've also liked the story that Pete Rose told after he set the record for the most number of baseball hits in a career. They asked him his "secret to success" and he told them that last season he set the record for the most number of times at bat. You see Pete Rose realized that success is a function of the number of times that you step up to the plate and swing the bat. You're going to strike out a lot, but you can't get on base unless you take your shot.
NIKA is all about perseverance. We're all trying to do something that is incredibly difficult, we're trying to launch a new bottled water product, an ethical bottled water, into a very crowded and competitive space. In addition we are competing against billion dollar companies that invest massively in marketing and advertising and whose product sells in the market at prices well below our cost. Often times when we call on buyers at retail stores they commonly begin the conversation with "oh no, not another bottled water company!". When you make cold calls you may have to stop in a retail store ten times before a manager will give you the time of day. Or, you maybe trying to get a health permit and you may get abused by a city employee for a year while she exercises here personal power trip. Many people would just give up and walk away. Or they might try a few times and then move onto something else. During the past year I have seen countless times that you have persevered and continued making that last cold call of the day when you've already struck out ten times in a row or that you've been humiliated by a relentless city manager. Persevering is a key not only to operating a successful business but also to the more important game of life. Those that turn and walk away without persevering have only themselves to look at in the mirror as to why they couldn't get the job done. Those that continue banging on the proverbial door and eventually realize that the door does and will open, learn an important life lesson. You see, perseverance really does work! Great people like Abe Lincoln realized that somewhere in the deepest part of their souls that they were meant to serve and they would stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Pete Rose realized that just by stepping up to the plate and swinging the bat that he would set records one day and even everyday. Ordinary people like you and me realize that just by getting up one more time and dusting yourself off that we cant be beaten. NIKA is the same way. As a start up company we will all get rejected constantly. It will be very easy to give up and choose the easier path, the path of less resistance. However it's the harder path, the path that's often times less clear and more challenging to conquer that will be the most rewarding at the end of the day. You will also hopefully realize that by persevering that you can achieve great things for your sport or your business and that more importantly you will look yourself in the mirror and even if you fail you will feel good about yourself for giving it your all.
I love what the great Babe Ruth said, "Its hard to beat a person who never gives up."
Thanks to all of your efforts and perseverance, we are winning. A year ago virtually no one had heard of NIKA. Last week at the Fiesta Del Sol festival Id say that 30% to 40% of the people whom we met, had in fact heard of NIKA before. We are now in all 32 Henry's Markets in San Diego and Orange County. What's amazing is that we called on the buyer at least a dozen times over the past year to make this happen and we learned today that since last September, hes approved only two new products to be expanded to his stores. That's "perseverance" from our team!
If you have a moment, please check out our new You Tube link from our Fiesta Del Sol event.