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World Of Difference

In college, you've got the whole green business world in your hands.
August 1, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/195706

Unless you've been living on Mars, you know that many consumers are going green and that businesses are rising to the challenge of providing environmentally sound products and services. Nowhere is that more evident than on college campuses, where student entrepreneurs are developing cutting-edge environmental ideas.

One example is the student-run Babson Environmental and Energy Club at Babson College. Comprised primarily of MBA students, the organization promotes entrepreneurship and career opportunities in the green sector. The club is even bringing clean-tech ideas--such as a residential-scale wind turbine to generate power--directly to the campus. "That's been one of our most exciting accomplishments," says Clinton White, co-president of the BEEC and a recent MBA graduate. "We know this is the future of energy and what companies are doing now: providing innovation to the space and looking at new solutions to address these larger global problems."

Also addressing global problems are recent Harvard University graduates Angela K. Antony and Sandra Ekong, both 22. In July 2007, they started The Beanstockd Project, a social media company that combines pop culture news and gossip with valuable environmental tips. "The Beanstockd blog uses popular culture as a vehicle to deliver environmental information to people who normally wouldn't be exposed to it," says Ekong. Things like posts detailing the latest updates on TV's Gossip Girl with a tie-in to the low-carbon dieting trend (eating foods that minimize your carbon footprint) are one way the company relays its earth-friendly message. Next month, the company will launch The Beanstockd Game, an alternate reality game that rewards users for making small green changes.

Beanstockd's business model has two main revenue streams: online advertising and commission from the sale of green products to users. So far, the model has been successful. Antony and Ekong recently signed Subway as an advertising partner and were chosen to grow their company in a DreamIt Ventures incubator, which includes office space, a team of lawyers, an accountant and a business consultant. With tens of thousands of hits per week on beanstockd.com and first full-year sales projections in the six figures, Antony and Ekong hope to get more young people excited about thinking green. "When [young people] leave home, that's the first time in their life when they take [control] over their lifestyle and behavioral habits," says Antony. "We hope The Beanstockd Game will develop habits they can carry throughout their lives." But going green doesn't mean automatic success. Your idea still has to make sense in the marketplace, says Larry W. Cox, director of the Entrepreneurship Center at Ball State University. "If you can solve a problem at the same price point and have the same features as an existing product--plus, you can help save the environment--you have a strategic advantage," he says.

And since college campuses are one of the hotbeds of the environmental movement, explore the resources your campus has to offer to help you launch your green business idea. Says Cox, "It's the best time ever to start [a green] business."