The reason Grove Collaborative has the name it does, is because- by definition- a grove is more than one tree. So says Stuart Landesberg- Grove’s Founder. He also says that the word collaborative is used when a problem is bigger than any one person can solve. He believes that it takes everyone to work together on the current environmental crisis. In the first year, before Grove Collaborative had its own website, Landesberg would go to Starbucks with a power point. He built the backend logic in Excel and gave people a $5 gift card to click through the prototype. At the end of their time, if they liked, he would take their credit card and run it through a card reader to pay for products. He said the company had about 200 customers before it ever had a website. The process gave him much data about what customers wanted. Today, the company has a wealth of data and customers who enjoy providing feedback. The company depends on many influencers, bloggers, affiliate referral programs, welcome gift sets, and many options for sharing the expertise of influencers who help to shape what the company views as important product lines.
1. Stuart Landesberg is Grove’s CEO.
He told Jason Calacanus of The Next Unicorn that Grove Collaborative was started because he believes that families care about providing the best products in their homes. At first, the company was called E-Pantry. Landesberg started the company in 2012 and he admits that he “really had no idea what he was doing”. In Summer 2016, he had a serious talk with his wife about the $200,000 he had invested in the business and $400,000 on a corporate credit card. He was hoping for the next round of funding to come in, and it did, much to his relief.
For the first four years of the company’s existence, it was possible to spend much time with customers. He discovered through research that customers were “wildly engaged” in natural products. He started out to build a “ruthlessly efficient replenishment engine” but discovered that the emotional connection customers had with the site and products created something even more powerful. The company name was changed in 2016 with a focus on being trustworthy for its engaged customers. Grove’s mission today is to help families by delivering the best of all natural and healthy home and personal care items. Landesberg said that 70% of households in the United States identify as preferring natural products. Grove helps these families have easier access to these conscientious products.
2. Grove Collaborative is just a few years old but generated $104 million in revenue in 2018.
According to Inc. Magazine, the 2018 revenue represented a three-year growth rate of 3,665%. Grove has raised more than $200 million of investment capital, to date. As of September 6, 2019, Sophia Kunthara reported for Crunchbase News that Grove Collaborative had reached a valuation of $1 billion. The company had raised $150 million in its Series D round, led by Lone Pine Capital, General Atlantic, and Glynn Capital; along with new investor Greenspring Associates. Grove released a statement noting that existing investors Heron Rock Capital, MHS Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, NextView Ventures, and Mayfield Fund were also participants.
3. Grove Collaborative has a set of conscientious values.
While the company works to make their products available easily to everyone, these products come with high expectations. They must be non-toxic, provide ingredient transparency, be made of plant-based formulas, be 100% cruelty-free, use ethical supply chains, and be of sustainable materials.
4. Grove Collaborative reviews its suppliers according to the international Business Social Compliance Initiative.
According to Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS), the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a program of the Foreign Trade Association of Europe. Members involved in BSCI actively participate in the auditing and integration of suppliers into the BSCI qualification and auditing program. The program also is designed to improve the working conditions of participating member companies.
5. Grove Collaborative maintains an anti-ingredient list.
You won’t find ammonia because it can irritate eyes, skin, and asthma. BHA/BHT isn’t allowed because this preservative is a known skin irritant, a carcinogen, and has aquatic toxicity. Chlorine can irritate the respiratory system, might disrupt thyroid function, and may form carcinogenic byproducts. Other ingredients forbidden include Triclosan, Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin, Phthalates, Phosphates, paraben, Octinoxate, oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Cyclomethicones (D4/D5/D6), Formaldehyde, and Ethanolamines (MEA/DEA/TEA).
6. Grove Collaborative works exclusively with Leaping Bunny.
Leaping Bunny certified manufacturers make certain that products are 100% cruelty free. According to Leaping Bunny, the Leaping Bunny idea began in 1996 when “cruelty-free shopping” was popular, but confusing. Companies started to use their own bunny logos to let customers know they were in some way “animal friendly”. Because misinformation and lack of standardization was sometimes misleading to customers, eight national animal protection groups formed the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). These groups include the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Canada, The American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Animal Alliance of Canada, Beauty Without Cruelty, USA, the Doris Day Animal League, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society. International groups from around the world also support the Leaping Bunny Program.
7. Grove acquired Sustain Natural, featuring sexual wellness products putting women first.
Meika Hollender, daughter of Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollander, launched a new company with her father. Their brand was designed with condoms, lube, pads, and tampons which are free of known toxins. Because the brand is focused on female buyers, it has helped women feel more comfortable when purchasing these items. The women- centric Sustain Natural brand is carried at Target.
8. Landesberg believes that Grove makes it possible for people to avoid single use consumption in their homes.
He views homes as central to people’s lives, and as such, are the one place where families can effect change in a meaningful way. He posed the thought that if each family used concentrated Grove laundry detergent, approximately 95% of consumer plastic waste could be eliminated. He also believes that alignment of incentive has the power to change behavior very clearly.
9. Grove Collaborative is a Certified B Corporation.
What does this mean? Grove Collaborative is included among companies which commit to the highest level of corporate social responsibility. The B Corp community works to support a healthier environment, reduce inequality, lower poverty levels, create stronger communities, and create jobs with purpose and dignity in order to build a more sustainable and inclusive economy. B Corps drive a global movement of people who seek to use business as a force for good. A company who endeavors to become a B Corp undergoes an extremely rigorous examination process. Landesberg views being a B Corp company as a long-term responsibility which propels the company’s success and gives it longevity paired with the obligation to think long-term.
10. It has 6 locations nationwide in key cities, but keeps it friendly with highly personalized service.
These include Portland, ME; San Francisco, CA; St. Peters, MO; Elizabethtown, PA; Reno, NV; and Los Angeles, CA. Grove considers itself to be “a digitally native brand” and works as a direct-to-consumer platform for natural products. Each shopper is provided with a personal shopper and solution provider which the company names as a “Grove Guide”. Grove Guides help shoppers keep in touch with company products, interacting via email, chat, SMS, and telephone.
11. Grove has a partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.
The company goal is to plant one million new trees over the next three years. Grove offers innovative products, such as bath and facial tissue, tree-free paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper made from 100% bamboo. Each order of Seedling tree-free products helps Grove’s initiative to replant deforested areas across the United States. The reason this is so important to Landesberg as CEO of Grove is that paper is the worst in terms of waste. Paper is the Number 2 polluting industry on Earth. United States household paper consumption is responsible for felling approximately 94,000 trees daily.
12. Landesberg is proud of the Seedling brand that Grove launched.
Seedling’s product line is comprised of paper items made from bamboo and up-cycled sugar cane. Both are grasses, not trees, and grow thirty times as fast as trees do. The bamboo and cane sequester about 5 times the amount of carbon that trees do. Proceeds from the sales of Seedling products are used to plant trees in the United States. Over 100,000 Grove trees were planted in the U.S. in 2019.
13. Landesberg believes that our society needs to pay close attention to the legitimacy of our supply chains.
He says that many companies across the supply chain are not careful about their supply sources. Grove does factory audits before the collaborative does business with them. Grove also works with companies to put improvement plans into place when necessary and monitors them so that products improve over time. He says it is “part of the DNA” of Grove as a company.
14. Landesberg states that Grove Collaborative is “a deeply mission-driven business”.
He says that the reason it has been successful is due to the people who work there. He views the collaborative customers, employees, and partners as incredibly conscientious and dedicated. The company has the same belief system as its customers.
15. Landesberg believes that today, business needs to be a positive force for change in the world.
Regardless of where people exist in their beliefs, he believes that the goal for the world must be more than just making money. B Labs is Grove’s certification source. Grove is one of the 10% of companies allowed to use the B Labs logo. Grove was required to think carefully about everything including best practices, ratio of highest paid employees to lowest, and company equity. The vast majority of Grove’s employee base are shareholders. Grove has been able to effect change in the natural products market because the Grove community believes in the importance of having a noble mission and following through on protecting the environment while offering excellent products to its consumer. Consumers are now demanding that companies provide products which consider impact on the world.
16. Landesberg believes that Grove has been able to compete against Amazon because, in practice, more than 50% of the product Grove sells today is not available on Amazon.
He stated that a simple way to look at the difference between the two companies is that the consumer will not get the same experience shopping on Amazon that Grove provides. He believes that one reason that product sellers choose to partner with Grove is that the company can tell their product stories very well. Grove not only provides a good price point for a valuable product but also explains why that product is good for the buyer. He believes that Grove wins over Amazon by being trustworthy for its consumers.
17. Every Grove Collaborative shipment is carbon offset.
According to Grove, the company purchases credits to fund projects which reduce pollution. These projects include things like energy efficient retrofits, solar installations, or wind farms. All work to improve the environment. With carbon offsetting, emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are reduced, and this balances out emissions made in other places. The cost of purchasing credits costs Grove Collaborative customers no cost. The entire effort helps to reduce the entire community’s carbon footprint.
18. Grove’s concentrated products, on average, cost 35% less than leading store brands.
Landesberg compared Grove’s one-ounce glass cleaner to the average 24-ounce store brand. Consumers who use the Grove one-ounce cleaner get only cleaner. That’s because the store brands have an average of 95% excess water. The store brands weigh more, and seem to give the customer more, but cost more in the long run because the customer pays for shipping the excess water in addition to cleaner. Grove customers use a reusable dispenser for their cleaner and that saves them money while reducing plastic waste in the environment.
19. Grove’s toilet tissue ships more in an 8 pack than the leading brand ships in a 12 pack.
The reason is that Grove packages their tissue wound more tightly. More tissue can fit in the same amount of space when compared with the less tightly wound commercial brands. Groves offers 30% more product for 40% less cost. Ultimately, the tissue Grove sells takes up less space on trucks, takes up less space in a home closet, and the company has less cost for shipping.
20. In 2019, the Grove community saved a million pounds of plastic just by changing from conventional products to products in concentrated formats.
Landesberg forecast this outcome in September 2019. He explained that the move from heavy weight cleaning products typically found in grocery stores to the use of highly concentrated products sold and delivered to homes by Grove is making a difference in the way Grove families buy products. While larger containers appear to have more product, they are mostly water. Buying concentrates and adding water is the way to save money. Concentrated products use less plastic packaging overall.
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Written by Allen Lee
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