Beanstockd is an environmental media and gaming company based in New York City. They use entertainment as a vehicle to deliver environmental information to mainstream people who would not otherwise be exposed to it. Beanstockd News and the Beanstockd Game, are the tools they use to inform our generation on environmental issues, and then drive them into action.
Beanstockd’s goal is to educate and inspire, by making environmentalism accessible to people who haven’t yet made green a habit in their lives. It gives them a way to get involved in environmentalism through things they are already doing or already find appealing. Going green is imperative for the future of our planet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
Young Money spoke to Angela Antony and Sandra Ekong, the dynamic co-founders of Beanstock’d.
YOUNG MONEY: What is the story behind Beanstock’d?
BEANSTOCKD: Like most things hip and cutting edge, Beanstockd was born in Paris. We, Beanstockd’s founders, lived there for 6 months, and found that our chic Parisian lifestyle revealed some fundamental problems with the way we lived our lives in America. After six months of 5 minute showers, air-drying clothing, and 5-dollar bottles of water, even we were taken aback by our callous consumption back in the states. The light bulb was the realization that it took only 2-3 months abroad for two essentially non-environmentalists to comfortably adopt a way of life that avoided overconsumption. Our mission became to find a way to recreate the subtle social pressure we experienced while living in Europe that caused us to change our behavior. If we could compel people to make these small, almost negligible lifestyle changes on a mass scale in the US, we believed it could make a very decisive difference in the environmental movement. From the streets of Paris to the basement computer lab of Lowell House at Harvard University, Beanstockd was born.
Months of debate, dialogue, and due diligence allowed us to pinpoint three major gaps in the environmental movement that we felt were not being adequately addressed: negative stigma, lack of personal accountability, and lack of incentive system (read more here). Our comprehensive solution: Beanstockd Media, a social media project comprised of an online news source (Beanstockd News) and The Beanstockd Game, an environmental competition powered by real-life pro-environmental actions.
Beanstockd is led by an incredibly passionate 20+ person team, with a readership hundreds of thousands strong, creating a model of environmental action that is not only novel — built on socially and psychologically-sound principles — but highly scalable and self-sustainable. And today we continue our rescue mission to save the world, one tongue-in-cheek step at a time.
YM: Why the name Beanstockd?
B: Beanstockd’s mission is to make green accessible to people who aren’t already involved in or interested in environmentalism. We wanted the name of our organization to reflect this. Thus, we didn’t want our name to include “green,” “carbon,” “climate,” or anything else that might deter our target audience. We liked the name Beanstockd because it evoked the idea of green, like a beanstalk, but included the word “stock” which was a reference to an early version of the Beanstockd Game. Finally, we tacked on the “d” to make the whole thing a verb.
YM: Can you tell me about The Beanstockd Game?
B: The Beanstockd Game is a web application which allows players to log and track personal and community-wide environmental efforts for prizes and social recognition. The game is a multiplayer community-based competition in which players compete in teams to accumulate points through their daily pro-environmental actions. At the end of the month-long competition cycle, the team with the most points wins a grand prize, or the ability to redeem their points for environmentally friendly products—thus giving their environmental actions purchasing power. What sets the game apart is the key location feature: the Beanstockd game takes place in a closed, geographic community–such as a college campus or office building—and is designed as such so that the virtual world interface extends into the “real world” game environment.
YM: What has been the hardest thing that you have had to face when starting a business?
B: The hardest thing you have to face when starting a business is making the decision to forego other opportunities to devote yourself entirely to it. We founded Beanstockd during our junior year at Harvard, and after months of sleep-deprivation, we both made the tough choice to defer our job offers and graduate school admittances to pursue our passion: making Beanstockd BIG. Though families and friends did not always approve the unconventional path we wanted to follow, ultimately it was the smartest decision we could have made — both for ourselves, and the cause we believed so passionately in.
YM: How did you raise money for your business?
B: Beanstockd resonated powerfully in the green and media spaces, receiving funding from MTV and Knight Foundation, winning the 2008 Knight News Challenge Young Creators’ Award, receiving funding and support from DreamIT Ventures, and incredible partnerships with the Subway Restaurants, MTV, the Harvard Green Initiative, and Fox Music.
YM: What have you learned about starting a green business?
B: As first-time entrepreneurs the past two years have served as the most intensive learning and growing periods of our lives. We’ve learned that starting a green business is like starting any successful business. A solid, innovative concept is only a concept until it is executed by a strong, passionate, and driven team. Luckily we’ve also learned that a novel, relevant idea and unwavering belief in its potential will attract incredible, well-qualified talent to the team, almost organically. Finally, we’ve learned that the best product is built through endless iteration, and that no version is ever perfect, but comes closer to perfect than the last; each iteration reveals new possibility.
YM: What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
B: Being a full-time entrepreneur can be both exciting and scary. We often get asked in interviews how difficult it was starting Beanstockd while at Harvard, our experience starting a business in college turned out to be a fantastic idea. If you can forego the sleep, having the buffer of school mitigates much of the risk of starting your own company. In Beanstockd’s case, we were even able to raise our first round of funding before we graduated, thus allowing us to really hit the ground running.