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It’s Like Shark Tank, but for Charity

It’s Like Shark Tank, but for Charity


Good morning, John. So I’ve been told three times in the last week
by creative people running cool businesses that they “really respect my business skills,”
and to that, I just would like to say… [LAUGHS] The list of my screw-ups is a mile long
and full of cringe. Now I’m not saying that I’m not
interested in it, haven’t worked hard. There are reasons why I’m fairly good at this. A big one is that I do like solving problems,
I like getting a good feel for them and finding different ways to attack them
and worrying about them. I find this to be fun, creative work that’s
actually kind of similar to plotting a novel? Two, I see it as good.
Employing people, treating them fairly, creating value for the world,
finding ways for that value to sustain itself. Three, my dad has run businesses, and whenever
I have a problem I can call him and he helps me. It’s… extremely valuable! I could go on!
Four, I’ve gotten very lucky with hiring. And all those things have helped, and I’m
happy to take some credit where it’s due, but ultimately I have a secret. And it will be absolutely no help when I tell you about it.
Every business I have launched that has succeeded has been launched with the support
of a really wonderful online community. Honestly, this is part of why DFTBA now gives
all of John and my profit to the Maternal Center of Excellence
in Sierra Leone. It’s why the Vlogbrothers channel revenue
has always been split between charity and supporting
smaller educational video channels. When I look at this honestly and objectively
and I think about where the value came from, it always feels to me like a lot of the value
came from the employees and this community and less from me,
because I’m just one person, right? There are times when I have pounded myself
into the ground to get things done. I’ve had a lot of bad weeks in my life. But in running a business, it’s important
to understand where your value comes from. It’s important to understand your strengths. And this community has always been at the
top of the list of our strengths. And that’s not just like marketing to you.
It’s finding people who can tell us how to do things, finding people to hire. Getting immediate product feedback! Like there’s
a reason I keep talking about soda syrups. I’m trying to get you guys to tell me how
you feel about soda syrups! And basically no one has this asset.
Now, other people have similar assets, but not like Nerdfighteria, right?
Not this good! So I’ve been hesitant to give advice when my biggest
asset is something that I don’t tend to share… but! I would like… for us… to build a business!
Now here’s how it’s gonna work. If you are a business person and you think
you could help this idea by providing mentorship or helping us pick business
ideas that are submitted to us, I’ve created a form in the description,
and it’s next to the words, “I can help.” If you think you have expertise that will
be valuable on a small board of people making decisions and providing mentorship,
fill that out! Second, if you are an entrepreneur, if you have a
product or a service that you are excited about that you’ve started to grow
but you need a push, I’ve got a form for you as well.
It’s called, “I need help.” Now in general, we’re looking for stuff
that’s beyond the idea stage and that it actually has a product or service
or business developed a little bit. You can fill this out with just an idea, but…
it better be a banger, basically. But here’s the sticky bit:
I’m gonna give this business $50,000… but! If the business is able to become successful
over the next three years, we wanna get that $50,000 back
to promote maternal health in Sierra Leone. And every year when you do your profit distributions,
10% of after-tax income should also go to support that effort. If that sounds good to you and you’ve got
an idea that can grow but needs some mentorship and some support from an amazing audience
of cool people who wanna support good things, the form is down in the description. John, I think everybody has the ability to be a
business owner. Now, not everybody has the inclination. But even if you don’t,
I think everyone should watch the Crash Course Business: Entrepreneurship
Learning Playlist. It’s a 17-episode series hosted by Anna Akana
that goes over the basics of starting your own business
and also of business in general. The link to that playlist is here
and in the description, and those forms that I was telling you about
are down there as well. John, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

  • If you make unique and interesting soda syrup flavors that taste good, I will buy them when I have the money. Please note that soda syrups that work in things besides soda like as coffee flavorings or cocktail flavorings or anything else are wayyy better than things that only work in bubbly water. Also: sweetness is key here, I don't want to have to make simple syrup and buy your soda syrup. Maybe if you have options for very sweet and much less sweet that would be helpful? Anyway, that's my soda syrup take.

    On the business side of things, I totally agree with the person that noted that part of the reason we really admire your businessing is that you do it really ethicly well and are the kind of boss people want to have while still making your business succeed.

    Thank you so much for always working to involve the community in things like this.

  • I love soda syrups! All soda is is sparkling water and syrup. There is so much more customization and creativity with more soda syrups

  • Hank, you’re kinda crazy… but like in a really good way
    You’ve definitely helped make the world a better place, and I think you’ve had fun doing it

  • This is an awesome idea and I am so happy Hank and John both are in a stage in thir life to give generously to the community that has been built over 10 years.
    This is what using their privilege looks like. This is ethical community building, with the only catch being charity, oh no, how terrible, however shall we survive…
    But this is also giving oppurtunity to those who may never have got the chance. Imagine the good that can come, just by those in businesses already getting to help people earlier in there journey, and those just starting taking the creative risk to say 'even if I am scared, I believe in what I can bring, and now I can leap with some backing, support, and all of nerdfighteria' (if in future months the community becomes aware of who are the recipients to possibly provide extra online support or good will)
    Hank and John, DFTBA, but also thank you. I see this good that you're bringing into the world and I hope you continue to spark that creative drives in others.

  • Soda syrup is not, in any manner shape or form, for me Hank. But I don’t want to “yuck anyone’s yum,” a phrase I’ve learnt thanks to this community.

  • I kind of wish I was a business-minded person, and now that you talk about it, I'm trying to make the things that make it difficult for me.

    First, I think it's because I don't have a product, other than my writing. Like, I don't have a hard, concrete thing to sell. Until I get a novel represented and sold, or break into the poetry scene, however the hell that is broken into, all I have are my words, floating around on the ether that is the internet.

    Now, my words made me a little over $4,000 last year, so it's not like there's no value in them, but there's certainly no way to translate this "I'm a person with words and thoughts and ideas mostly smeared across the internet" into "I'm a person who's put those written words into things to sell; here's why you should be interested, and here's where you can buy it."

    And trying to bridge that gap . . . that seems like the million dollar question. Especially when there are millions of other nobodies like me trying to do the same thing.

  • Soda syrups …. I need a country time type syrup. They stopped making it for soda stream, they stopped selling sparkling country time, it is the only thing that can get me off pop. I drink much less of it and it gets rid of my craving for pop. I don't like artificial sweeteners or flavored water. … ok, told you my take on the syrups hank

  • I love the idea of soda syrup, but not ones that are LESS sugary and flavorful as you've been marketing. I like to make them really concentrated and pack in the flavor, so I always get way fewer servings out of them than advertised in storebought ones.

  • Any chance of broadening the "I can help" Form to more than just business people? I believe people with a specialized knowledge set like supply chain mgmt., insurance, and law could also give valuable advice. Not as main mentor to a starting business, but maybe as co-mentors when their skill would be useful.

  • This is great and I want in on this, but don’t have enough experience. Give me a couple years and I can be an accountant for whatever it is that takes off from this! Lol

  • Fun fact: here in the temperamental refrigeration unit we call Canada, we have Dragons Den, aka Shark Tank, but a different colour scheme and slightly more threatening-sounding.

  • I had a soda syrups and the machine to get the CO2 in the water and everything for a while and I can’t say I would ever recommend it. It was a gimmick thing, meaning that it seemed really cool and fun to make at first but once you got past that the product had almost no value. It never tased that good and would go flat right away. I would give it a 2/10.

  • Haven't tried soda syrups but am always looking for a healthy non- sugery beverage idea for myself. I'd be interested to try some. Something fruity please!

  • I don’t like soft drink, and I hate the this isn’t quite right taste of make it yourself soft drink. However I like cordial (you add to plan water) I also live in Australia so shipping cost normally out prices the cost of the items.

  • I quite like soda syrups, my family favorite is green tea lemonade. I also quite enjoy a simple citrus syrup and i have yet to make a good raspberry syrup. We make them at home and store them in old cider bottles.

  • I want to help, but I haven’t used my business minor at all in the past 15 years and I don’t really have anything that could be marketable right now.

  • You're like a legitimate Mr. Wonderful with that investment set up but like…you know, actually wonderful and kind.

  • Soda syrups:

    I guess you're not old enough to remember when these were things. 'Most every pharmacy had a soda counter, at which you could sit, and ask the soda jerk* for a Cherry Coke, or a Chocolate Soda, or, if the place sold ice cream as well, you could ask for a Pineapple Milkshake, which he would make with milk, vanilla ice cream, and pineapple SYRUP along with a plop of pineapple topping.)

    *("Soda jerk" is NOT an insult! That's what the young men were called, because they 'jerked' the handle on the unit that dispensed carbonated soda water (seltzer) into which they poured FLAVORED SYRUP).

  • Hank, I know an awful lot about soda syrup, especially root beer syrup. I know many commercial craft producers and even make my own which impresses everyone, including them. What would you like to know about soda (root beer) syrup?

  • Damn Hank's really just throwing 50k at people AND finding a way to get it back to Partners in Health at the same time

  • "I'm trying to get you guys to tell me how you feel about soda syrups. And basically–"
    I thought he was going to say "no one has" and I just started laughing.

  • What if I want to help, but I have no expertise in business, what can I do?

    also was mildly distracted by the beard, who do you think you are, John?

  • Okay so my opinion on soda syrups. I have not tried them, but I do not find them intriguing. Hopefully that helps.

  • Two things –
    1. I don't have any opinions on soda syrup, having never tasted it before, and
    2. I absolutely love this community and every day, y'all make me proud and so grateful to be here.

  • Wow, I love this so much. Especially the end – everybody has the ability. I feel so much imposter syndrome when it comes to business. I feel like everyone else must know more than me, or be more qualified than me, when it comes to opening businesses, so I haven’t really ever felt like opening my bookstore would be a reality. This would be amazing.

  • I’ve always wanted to start an eco tourism based travel company in Florida where I basically drive tourists around the state in a bus and visit all the beautiful unique Florida ecosystems

  • listen, I'm very skeptical of any appearance of "good capitalism" … but these are bosses who value their consumers like NO ONE I have ever seen; value their employees, value giving, value the most vulnerable people…like if there's any "good" way to do capitalism I think this is it

  • My dad is a "business person" and has been complaining about how bored he's been since he retired a few years back. Might not be the target demo of this search, but I can float the idea by him, anyway.

  • I like the idea of soda syrups but I don’t drink a lot sodas. I drink Lacroix and other flavored sparkling waters more than anything else. The only reason I don’t have a Soda Stream is I don’t know if there’s an easy way to flavor without sweetening the water.

  • My ambition/interest is bowling. Regrettably, it is a rather finite focus, with nil capacity to expand; the balls are already round, like, we cannot improve upon a shape, can we?

  • Re: soda syrup

    In theory I like the idea but I absolutely refuse to get any more kitchen appliances so unless you can convince me that a soda stream is more useful than my slow cooker it'll be a no go

  • I think this is really cool, Hank! A, hopefully, sustainable attempt at raising private charity funds is something I adore and am sad that I lack the idea(s) and the expertise to help out, but kudos to you.

  • I'd be interested in novel soda flavors that aren't too crazy (pomegranate honey, not durian fruit) that support fair trade.

  • I recently had two "million dollar ideas," one that was fairly serious and feasible, and one that was a bit silly. Guess which is the one I can't recall anymore?

  • you want to know how I feel about soda syrups? my feelings are WHY would I, an individual, buy a soda syrup? I have never owned a soda stream, nor have I known anyone to own one, and I only really like sodas that are carbonated.This sounds like an idea to sell to people who have soda machines in their place of business that require syrup, but like…wanna step away from Big Business. Is that? a helpful tidbit?

  • I am very interested in soda syrups, Hank. very interested. Particularly in flavors that are hard to find in these United States such as (but not limited to) elderflower, rhubarb, and blackcurrant. Rhubarb soda is available in Northern Europe and there is nothing more refreshing on a summer's day. I recognize that I am in the minority of people because I am interested in soda syrups but I will continue to enable you in this venture at every chance I get, Hank.

  • I think you missed the boat on soda syrups. Most people I know either have switched to sparkling water (which there are a million of now) or only drink soda when they eat fast food. As far as soda stream goes, last time I was at the thrift store there were at least 3 of them, which for niche appliances usually means people are done with that now.

  • Very embarrassing and very off topic but I have nothing to lose so: do u guys have advice for what to do when all u want to do is die. I’m barely out of high school but I’ve overdosed three times and been hospitalized and I cant stop wanting to not be around. Thanks and sorry :/

  • I for one have noticed and am into Hanks sodas. I haven't bought anything yet because I have no money 🙁

    EDIT: oh no! I'm seeing so many soda syrup haters in the comments :,(

  • I don't like soda syrup. I don't like sugar in my beverages, because it is too easy that way to consume more sugar than is healthy (there is already so much sugar in our food). I've also yet to find an artificial sweetener that I like (they are either too sweet or have a strange aftertaste).

    Now, if you were to develop a soda syrup that doesn't have sugar or sweetener and still tastes good, I'd be your customer.

  • Long time watchers and reader and admirer of the Greens, first time commenter. This is so moving though.
    As a pregnant person, I really appreciate y’all lifting up issues with global infant and mother’s mortality. It’s already scary enough to be a pregnant person in late stage American capitalism. There are still resources. Beautiful work y’all.

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