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April Rudin Headshot

Kermit Was Right: It's Not Easy Being Green

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It was the wisdom of the often overlooked thought leader, Kermit the Frog, who first noted, back in the 1970's,that "It's not easy being green." Most of us dismissed that brilliant observation because at the time, Kermit was a loner: one of the earliest adopters of "green-thinking." We were not concerned about what it meant to be green. He was a lone wolf. For Kermit, there was no "feel good" about being green; it made him feel isolated and different.

Fast forward to 2011. Now everyone wants to be green. But it's still "it's (still) not easy..." However, being and thinking green is essential to the soul of a new breed of Gen-Xer's. Being successful by making green, i.e. money, is not enough anymore. They want to do it on their own terms while preserving the world's resources. This brand of Gen-xer reminds me of the cowboys who had a culture of independent thinking, ability to take risks and function as loners in the wilderness. For some time now, I have noticed a new breed of "urban cowboy." S/he even have their own distinctive dress (basic simple and usually black) and wield tools like the cowboys in the past. For tools, s/he uses a variety of distribution channels to communicate their unique core message. S/he is a pioneer and a maverick who understands and strives to protect our world. The new horse is a Prius or perhaps even public transportation. This Gen-Xer is "packing" a load of brainpower, determination and vision and is armed with the Web 2.0, social media, mobile apps, and passion as ammunition.

I want to tell you about one, green cowboy and his posse who are attempting to tame the wild, wild,west from Los Angeles, California. This cowboy has an exciting, exotic and evocative name which you must remember: Eduardo Sciammarella. His background is Argentinian with mix of Italian ancestry and Basque roots. Eduardo is, in fact, an authentic gaucho or Argentinian cowboy. Eduardo is a maverick in the true sense of the word: he is taking an independent lead in creating a simple start-up, GatherGreen, http://www.gathergreen.com whose mandate is to introduce green vendors and green consumers through a group-buying website. He's trying to make it simple to be green, one deal at a time.

Let's focus on Eduardo for a bit He is typical of today's Gen-x start-up visionaries: he is young, dashing, smart, has three start-ups under his belt, more than forty patents and a "white-shoe" resume. Eduardo just turned 40 years old. While this list of accomplishments may be the end for some, it's just the beginning for Eduardo! He spent ten years at Sony in development and has had successes at the highest levels including inventing and patenting the "jog wheel" which was on the outside of each and every early Blackberry device. He has travelled the globe, working in Tokyo on creating new intuitive user interfaces which are so forward-thinking that we can expect to see them perhaps five years from now! He has created Protohaus, a design consultancy with Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Nokia as clients but felt something missing in his everyday business successes. Typical of today's Gen X'ers, Eduardo dreamed of "doing well while doing good." Eduardo brought his big thinking and zen-like vibe to the conception, incubation and birth of the next wave of business model for collective shopping or social commerce: sourcing vendors and products which are green. Eduardo was able to take the basic group-buying concept and spin it to a even bigger idea and a higher level of good. GatherGreen facilitates consumers in making purchasing decisions that foster a more sustainable Spaceship Earth... how cool is that? Talk about big ideas!

The green concept applied to the "deal of the day" fulfills the "soul" of Eduardo who wants to "do well while doing good." Today's Gen-Xer has the soul of a bird and yet the eye of a tiger. In 2011, success is measured in dollars and, in goals, like preserving our planet. GatherGreen is an idea which links a social community looking for value-priced green products to vendors. This "doing good" is the "feel good" which had been previously missing for Eduardo and others of his generation. But, of course, Eduardo wants to use his lariat and lasso some other kind of green as well!

He is a seriously building out his business from its start-up phase. The green market in the US is estimated at $200 billion spread over 41M total households. Consumers have several challenges in "going green." They are challenged by trust, convenience and finally, the cost. It's more expensive to go green and is thus a barrier for some who might be passionate but unable to afford a completely green lifestyle. GatherGreen takes the social commerce model and offers a forum for consumers and merchants to meet and exchange products/commerce in a reliable and discounted manner.

Green merchants are smallish for the most part and do not have the budget, expertise and time to create and execute marketing programs which can be aimed at consumers who believe in their value proposition. Mass marketing doesn't work with green products yet and it is expensive. Social media is hard to master, and with traditional advertising it is difficult to measure its ROI. Eduardo brings together the green consumer and the green merchant in a way that makes sense for both. Consumers get the savings they need to drive more dollars to green vendors. GatherGreen delivers great green deals directly straight to your computer's inbox.

For Eduardo, the satisfaction is that he was able to "color" his latest start-up by going green while making green. For Eduardo, it's the usual set of David vs. Goliath challenges of start-ups. His point is that in a world where we must consume, we should be spending our money with businesses who share common values. Eduardo dreams of global commerce where it is very easy (and profitable) to be green.

Perhaps then, Kermit will be able to change his tune...

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