TOMS Start Something That Matters Fellowship
Transforming the way TOMS engages employees
TOMS employee Zander Collier loves algae. His humble affection for it made him the perfect match to partner with Algae for Aid, a featured project in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Who could guess that something as common as algae could help transform the future of our food and energy?
Zander’s partnership was part of an innovative employee engagement program that Verb created for TOMS, which matched 20 employees with social entrepreneurs serving 8 different countries. After selecting ventures that were advancing through Dell’s Social Innovation challenge, TOMS looked at the background, expertise, and interests of its employees to match them with each venture.
“I didn’t just volunteer, I lobbied to be a matched with 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 program!” —Zander Collier, TOMS Mentor to Algae for Aid
Building a movement for the future
In addition to the partnership with TOMS employees, the entrepreneurs benefited from funding matches totaling $42,000, and an opportunity to sell their product in the TOMS Marketplace. Establishing a retail presence was a huge boost for the winners, gaining exposure through the company’s famous one-for-one model created by founder Blake Mycoskie.
For TOMS team members, they were able to utilize a combination of their professional skills and their passions to make an impact on important social issues. They focused on topics and challenges they were passionate about, helping the entrepreneurs improve their business models, marketing and outreach strategies, fundraising techniques, and financial plans.
TOMS employee Bethany Clark asked to be teamed up with Sword & Plough, an organization that employees US military Vets to craft hand-sewn goods from surplus military fabric. Her family’s military experience created a deep bond with founders Emily and Betsy that helped fuel their connection far beyond the initial engagement.