Andrew Martin is having one heck of a year. In the last month alone, one of the companies he founded, Annie’s Homegrown, had a hugely successful IPO. Another company he founded, Smartfood (now part of PepsiCo / Frito-Lay), announced it will greatly expand its line of all-natural snacks. And his 750-acre farm in New Zealand won an award for being the best run, most profitable organic sheep and cattle farm in the country.
This week, applying his business savvy and drawing on his connections in the consumer packaged goods industry, the serial entrepreneur launched a new social enterprise that creates a new source of sustainable funding for America’s struggling charities. The online coupon site, CommonKindness.com, gives a full 20 percent of the fees it receives from the brands to nonprofit organizations. In just a few days CommonKindness has become the second largest online grocery coupon website in America.
Martin believes CommonKindness hits the sweet spot of the online grocery coupon industry. He says the brands love it because they do not pay any fees to upload or change coupons on the site, so they can load as many coupons as they want and change them on the fly at no expense.
“Our model is a radical departure from the way the leading online coupon sites operate,” said Martin. “Our performance-based, pay-per-redemption model helps brands retain and attract new customers economically. The brands pay us only a quarter for every coupon that is redeemed at the store—so they get a lot more real product sales for their advertising dollar.”
“Ten thousand consumers registered on the site the first business day after we went live,” said Sarah Schloemer, co-founder and president of CommonKindness. “Consumers love CommonKindness because the site’s printable grocery coupons not only save them money, their favorite nonprofits also receive a donation every time they shop—and they associate those good feelings to the brands on our site.”
Martin and Schloemer receive warm receptions from brand managers when they meet in person—and the CommonKindness site is already featuring coupons from major brands, like Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Hershey. The duo says the model is making brands rethink their online coupon strategies. They believe CommonKindness presents the ideal online coupon opportunity for brands such as Kraft, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and many others in the $450 billion coupon community.
“Many companies we talk to are so excited, they are not only working CommonKindness into their next budget cycle, they are also considering reallocating portions of this year’s budget,” said Martin. “They know they can get more for their money with CommonKindnesss—and they want to benefit from the “halo effect” created by associating their brand with efforts to support their customer’s favorite charities. It’s simply good business for them.”