This Footballer Is Betting On Wool For His Trainers, And They’re Selling Out

Former footballer from New Zealand, Tim Brown started his business, Allbirds, by falling down a “rabbit hole” in 2011. Five years on, he’s got more than $2 million capital under his belt, a business partner, and a new office in the Bay Area. 

After having been inundated with sponsored gear — the side effects of being a professional athlete, Brown wanted to create a simple, unbranded shoe with mostly natural material.

Hailing from the land of 29 million sheep, he jokes, wool felt seemed like an appropriate alternative to the multitude of synthetic materials used in most trainers.  But when he looked at the manufacturing processes for footwear, he got a surprise:  “I was amazed that the footwear industry was still so antiquated and had not changed much in the way these shoes were being made.”


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How (and Why) to Camp in the National Parks

Chris Santella says he wasn’t raised by “outdoorsy” parents. But as a young man growing up in Connecticut, with grandparents who lived in Maine, he developed a kinship with nature — in particular, a love for standing knee-deep in rivers and fly-fishing. The East Coaster ultimately moved West, settling in Portland, Ore., and put aside a corporate career in marketing to write about his outdoor adventures, including trips to at least a dozen national parks.

His new book, “Fifty Places to Camp Before You Die” (Abrams Books), showcases some of the world’s most beautiful campsites. More than half of the book is devoted to American national parks, including Denali in Alaska, Big Bend in Texas and Crater Lake in Oregon.

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Santella, 53, conducted just before he was heading out on his next camping adventure in Oregon.

03QA2-master768Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho, an overlooked “gem” that combines a beautiful lodge and wilderness. CreditAdrienne Baisch/

Q. What do you love about camping, particularly in the national parks?

A. When I’m out camping, and visiting places such as the national parks, my system slows down. I spend a lot of time sitting and observing rather than just doing. It just wakes you up — in a different way.

Read the full story at New York Times Travel.

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Food and Politics: Why This American Entrepreneur Wants To See A Conflict Zone Aisle at Whole Foods

Amit Hooda wants to see a conflict zone area in Whole Foods. No, it’s not a playground for adults to break out in food fights. Rather, it’s an aisle devoted to food companies, sourcing from conflict areas of the world — a way for refugees, and victims of political conflict to earn a living while providing nuts, seeds, grains and more. In Hooda’s case, it’s all about honey.

Heavenly Organics procures honey from wild hives in Northern and Central India and the Himalayan region. Photo Courtesy of Subject.

The Iowa-based entrepreneur and co-founder of Heavenly Organics grew up in India in the 1980s, an era filled with stories of Maoist violence throughout the country. Naxalites ate up the headlines back in those days, Hooda recalls. Families were told to keep their girls inside the home, protect them from being harassed or kidnapped. “Yet, why were these men engaging in violence? They were incentivized to create violence in villages and towns across the country. You made money by robbing people because someone stuck a gun in your hand and told you to do,” he says in a phone interview.

While India’s history of Maoist uprisings is contentious and long-standing, Hooda was less interested in playing policymaker, and more so in learning about the root cause of such politically-charged violence: poverty, and lack of jobs or opportunities.

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How This Coffee Entrepreneur Is Overcoming Hurdles To Build A Mission-Driven Company

Around the world, coffee shops have become meeting points for “urban tribes,” creative types, freelancers, and pour-over junkies. In India, though, running a coffee business is still a tricky pursuit, riddled with challenges.

Blue Tokai, which I reported on last year in Delhi, was trying to bring that global coffee culture to India by freshly roasting beans, sourcing from single estate farms, offering organic varieties, and educating north Indians on Aeropress, Chemex, and French Press brewing techniques– a new language for a region that lives on chai and instant coffee.

Since their mail order business took off, Blue Tokai founders, Matt Chitharanjan and Namrata Asthana, opened a cafe in South Delhi last year.  The approach to the coffee shop is a bit tricky, especially for non-locals: down a few alleyways, off the main road, Blue Tokai sits in a village within the city.


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This Fund Will Invest In Startups That Aren’t Run By White Men In Big Cities


Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, is keen to change that dynamic. That’s why she’s backing a new $10 million fund, the Focus Fund, for women and minority entrepreneurs, led by JumpStart Inc., an Ohio-based nonprofit that helps tech entrepreneurs find capital and resources to grow their businesses.

This economic engine has been defined by white males, and mostly privileged white males,” she says. “We love Mark Zuckerberg, we love what he’s done with Facebook but he happened to have rich friends across the hall at Harvard. We love Sergey and Larry, but they had Stanford.”

Read the full story at Fast Company.


Social Enterprise Accelerator Solvey Gets Over 3 Million Views On YouTube

In May, I met YouTubers Dave Erasmus and Louis Cole in Delhi.  They were on their third stop on a fast-paced world tour called Solvey, to find entrepreneurial individuals, interested in giving back and solving problems in their home countries.


Erasmus, a serial entrepreneur, and Cole, a travel vlogger on YouTube with a massive global fan following, hit 8 cities in 30 days. Two months later, I spoke to Erasmus, now back home in England, to see what the results were of that mega trip.

“I’ve finally recovered from my travels.  Today, I woke up with a spring in my step,” he says, laughing.

That’s one month after their whirlwind tour ended.  While it may have been ruthless on their bodies, it did yield the results they were hoping for: 145 people applied from around world and that too across generations (ages 12 to 67).  Plus, the vlogs garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.

Read the full story on Forbes.


New Charity Invites Female Millionaires To Donate — And Get Involved

There’s a lot of talk about helping the girls and women of the developing world, but there’s not a lot of money to back it up.

According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, “less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl.”

The Maverick Collective hopes to change that breakdown. It’s a philanthropic organization that was publicly launched this week at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. Its 14 members, all women, have each contributed at least $1 million to fund a specific project in the developing world that tackles a women’s health issue: domestic violence, maternal health, cervical cancer. The goal is to come up with projects that get good results, then build them up to a bigger scale.

And it’s not just about writing a check. Each donor is involved with the project she is sponsoring. The women have traveled to the countries where the project is going on and are tracking its progress.


The group’s CEO is Kate Roberts, who was a top advertising executive before becoming senior vice president of the nonprofit PSI — Population Services International. The co-chairs are Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who is also the co-founder, and Melinda Gates. (As our readers may know, the Gates Foundation is a funder of NPR.)

We spoke with Roberts in Copenhagen to learn more about this new organization. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the full story on NPR.