By Paula Alexander, Director – Sustainable Business and Innovation
“We are still reeling from our time spent at Burt’s Bees headquarters, meeting the amazing staff and making new friends,” said Barbara Maes, cofounder of Kaibae, shortly after returning to California from her visit to Burt’s Bees and the Durham CEO Exchange.
Barbara was one of 15 entrepreneurs from our Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad Cohort No. 2, who converged on Durham, North Carolina, in September for a day-and-a-half of networking, coaching and inspiration.
(Scroll to the bottom of the page for the full list of participants in the second Burt’s Bees natural Launchpad cohort.)
Why we’re building an ecosystem of entrepreneurs
Building an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and entrepreneur support is an important objective of the Natural Launchpad program, and it seems to be working.
According to Patrick C. Melder, M.D., founder and CEO of Ideoto, “It’s hard to appreciate the value of community until you 1. don’t have it and 2. experience it. I’ve been doing this for so long without access to like-minded people. This was refreshing.”
A large part of why Burt’s Bees is investing in the startup accelerator with Innovent origins is because it allows the team to pay forward the good fortune and experience we’ve gained over our 30 years of growth. In addition, it’s a great engagement opportunity fostering relationships between Burt’s Bees employees and natural product entrepreneurs who help each other see their challenges from different perspectives.
“Natural Launch Pad is a mutually-beneficial relationship where we simultaneously teach and learn from these like-minded entrepreneurs,” says Jim Geikie, Burt’s Bees vice president and general manager. “They benefit from our experience scaling a mission-driven business, and Burt’s Bees benefits from their innovative orientation, their entrepreneurial way of operating, and their conviction in and commitment to their work. The impact lasts far beyond the two-day engagement itself.”
Evolving the program to increase its value
Building upon learning from the first year of the program, the core Natural Launchpad team evolved and improved the entrepreneur experience. We extended and formalized the subject matter expert round robin, the centerpiece of the agenda.
“I was proud of how our own Burt’s Bees subject matter experts were able to roll up their sleeves and really help the entrepreneurs through a set of tough business and growth challenges,” said Ken McLellan, Global Partnerships Lead – Clorox R&D, and a member of the Natural Launchpad core team. “We added a session on scaling with Burt’s Bees Product Supply Integrator, David Lawrence. The entrepreneurs had so many questions, and it was validating for some further along their organization’s life cycles.”
The event culminated in a community happy hour of the Natural Launchpad entrepreneurs and Burt’s Bees employees with local government officials, local start-up CEOs and North Carolina State and University of North Carolina business school representatives, extending the reach of the program into the Durham community.
Here’s the full list of participants in Burt’s Bees Natural Launchpad Cohort No. 2:
• CACOCO Inc. Cacoco Drinking Chocolate
• Fresh Monster Fresh Monster Natural Kids Products
• Ideoto LLC ChitoRhino Nasal & Sinus Rinse
• Kaibae Kaibae Health & Beauty
• New Grounds Food Inc. Eat Your Coffee
• Repurpose Inc. Repurpose Sustainable Tableware
• Seal The Seasons Inc. Seal the Seasons Local Foods
• Smiling Hara LLC Smiling Hara Hempeh
• Sophie’s Kitchen Inc. Sophie’s Kitchen Plant-Based Seafood
• Sweet Note Bakery Inc. The Greater Knead Bagels