TOMS Start Something That Matters Fellowship

imageby Tommy Lynn

Innovating the way TOMS engages their employees.
Blake Mycoskie, Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS transformed how companies give back through his infamous one-for-one model, and with Verb, he helped transform the way TOMS engages with their employees.

A new spin on employee engagement
In spring 2013, Verb kicked off a fellowship program with TOMS through the Start Something That Matters Fellowship. Verb helped the TOMS team identify 21 top student ventures currently advancing through the 2013 Dell Social Innovation Challenge as candidates for elite mentoring, additional cash prizes totaling up to $42,000, and the opportunity to establish a retail presence on the then newly-announced virtual TOMS Marketplace.

Verb and TOMS designed the fellowship as an innovative employee engagement program and carefully matched the 21 selected student ventures with 20 TOMS employees based on their background, expertise and interests. This program catered to the diverse passions of TOMS employees and enabled them to interact with international social issues and topics in real time by working directly with the student ventures.

“I didn’t just volunteer, I lobbied to be a mentor to Algae for Aid! I have a great passion for utilization of algae as a future food and fuel source. Given my excitement for something as boring as algae, I’m willing to devote far more time to my team than what was called for in the SSTM program!”

—Zander Collier, TOMS Mentor to Algae for Aid

Building a movement with TOMS
Through their mentoring work with TOMS employees, student teams participating in the fellowship improved their marketing and outreach strategies; fundraising techniques; business models; sales strategies; strategic partnership activities; financial stability plans; research and trial methodologies; and entrepreneurial skills.

Reva Choi, TOMS mentor to student team Food Recovery Network, describes how inspiring it was to watch the Food Recovery Network student venture become engaged with the TOMS movement and its evolution to the extent that “they are trying to build a movement as well and can really benefit from understanding the TOMS story.”

This new spin on a stakeholder engagement model by connecting company employees with social ventures transformed the way the TOMS team were able to development their community engagement skills, and to allow them to utilize their professional skills within their volunteering.

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