Looking for a clean sustainable way to have fun where the sun don’t shine?
Bring some light into your life with MPOWERD’s solar, compactable lights
To find out more behind how MPOWERD got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews MPOWERD founder, John Salzinger
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with MPOWERD founder John Salzinger. When it comes to the outdoor industry and sustainability most people will often think of environmental sustainability. However, MPOWERD goes beyond this idea and bring social sustainability into the picture; the sustainability of human life. John Salzinger, started MPOWERD with social change at the forefront of his mind but, this didn’t start with MPOWERD, it’s been a lifelong passion of his. In this episode of the ReddyYeti Podcast John shares his experiences, his approach, and his reasoning with the steps he takes to turn MPOWERD into an engine of goodwill. Join us as John walks us through what a B corp and Benefit corporation are, where his inspiration for MPOWERD came from, and more about his crusade against kerosine.
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What is MPOWERD all about?
“MPOWERD is a company that was founded in July of 2012 to better people’s lives all around the world...we’ve done really good work with solar, clean, inflatable, portable, collapsible, lanterns. The lanterns are up to two and a half ounces in weight, one inch in height collapsed...we wanted to replace kerosene around the world…”
Where did this idea come from for Mpowerd?
“I worked with a number of individuals that were like-minded at the time...some of us went to Haiti, just the understanding that people are born on either the lucky or unlucky side of a coin...it screamed at me and a few others to ensure that we did something about it…”
Did you always know you wanted to start your own business?
“It took me a lot of time, a lot of experience. I was a photographer for a while, I had done merchant services and banking for a while. I did so many different things, I think I had 30 jobs…”
What is something unique about you or your business?
“I do try my best, under the duress of New York City life to look at things through other people's lenses… It’s kind of an attitude where you look at problems, challenges, and potential opportunities to do something for someone else…”
Did you have any mentors that helped you develop MPOWERD?
“I think at the moment, my mentor would be my partner and CEO, Seungah Jeong, who works at the company now...I love working with people that have a different outlook but, I can learn from her everyday…to have that additional affinity and help is so important when you’re challenged by high growth...”
What is your commitment to sustainable manufacturing?
“We’ve all visited our source, we know that they're treated right and that’s obviously of the utmost importance...We really are careful about how our products are used… The most important thing when we started this company was solving or resolving a human issue…”
What is the culture that drives MPOWERD?
“The culture has been organic...I think with us we consider it, but we let it grow organically. We have some really good people on our team and one of the criteria when applying to work for MPOWERD is why are you here?’... that answer really has to circle around our mission…”
What has been some of the hardest parts of building MPOWERD?
“We have a unique company where we grew so fast globally that it was challenging. With such easy access to the internet globally, it’s not easy for a small company to ensure that their protected…”
What is one of your biggest fears with MPOWERD?
“My greatest fear is the responsibility I have to the team, the staff, a kid in Kenya, and I want to make sure we succeed so that other companies take on problem solving…my greatest fear is not getting to that point”
What have been the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
“I’ve made every mistake. You make mistakes and it’s not the fall it’s do you get up?...it’s kind of what startups do, you learn on the job…some of the things that might be seen as mistakes now, may not have been...”
What makes a B Corop different than an LLC?
“We’re a B corp and a benefit corporation. B Corp is more on the marketing side. We do get tested every couple of years by B Labs, they’re an organization that hold companies to profit and purpose… a benefit corporation means shareholders can actually hold you accountable, not just for growth and profit but, also for impact. I think that’s the one that’s really important…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a social business?
“I think focus. I think you have to identify a problem, a real problem. Then you have to come up with an innovative solution that works. There are no shortcuts…”
What is the best part about running MPOWERD?
The people. The people you work with and then being together in a room and seeing the effect. Seeing the impact on a little boy who can now read without harmful pulmonary effects of kerosine...That’s the driver, it’s the driver for everyone here…”