Running Melbourne’s first Carrotmob hasn’t been as easy as the two
co-founders thought it would be.
“It’s a real win-win situation, we thought it was a no brainer but we’ve learnt so much” said Helen. “The bottom line is a mega deal and time is such a big deal for small businesses.”
Helen and Ying found out about the Carrotmob craze sweeping the world while both were volunteering at the Transition Town Boroondara project.
Carrotmob works by getting a business to commit its profits for a set time to making environmentally friendly improvements. In return a mob of consumers show up and buy. The Carrotmob, named because it works on the ‘carrot not stick’ philosophy, was first run in San Fransisco and had queues winding around the block.
However, for small businesses in Melbourne, it wasn’t only hard to explain the concept but it was difficult to get a commitment to give up their profits when often margins are so tight.
In the end it was Ying’s knowledge of Mandarin which helped to get the first business owner over the line with Ying able to explain the concept in his native language.
“It was a new concept so it was a really hard sell for businesses,” Ying said.
However, Helen and Ying have persisted. The former business students say it’s the combination of helping the environment while also helping a small business which really appealed to them both.
“I’ve never been a massive climate change activist,” said Helen. “But this has an actual outcome and is a really emerging area so that’s exciting.”
The pairs’ enthusiasm is contagious. VECCI is now completing the environmental audits for businesses for free through its CarbonDown program, Sandman films are filming the videos, and other friends have helped out along the way.
The pair is now working hard to make sure the next mob at Federation Square will be bigger and better than ever. This time around the mob gets interactive. Three businesses will sell their ideas to consumers who will then get to vote for the idea they like most. Voting will start at the Sustainable Living Festival this weekend. Helen and Ying will both be there so come down and say ‘hi’.