November 16, 2009

Worldwide Book Drive Wins Social Entrepreneurship CrowdPitch UT!

Congratulations to John Keller and Worldwide Book Drive, the winner of our recent Utah Social Entrepreneurship CrowdPitch event!Picture 1

This event was a huge success and an opportunity to focus on social entrepreneurship.  The companies that pitched were for profit-based social ventures that aim to improve our community.

We recently spoke with John about his experience preparing for and pitching at the event, and here’s what he had to say:

“It was a great opportunity to meet with entrepreneurs, investors and social entrepreneurs alike.  All of the companies that presented were great companies that were making a positive impact on our local community.  Although the prizes were great and we’re stoked about all of cool free stuff we won, the best part was definitely meeting with the investors and other entrepreneurs at the table!”

Here’s a little about the company itself:

Worldwide Book Drive started in 2005 as a response to some substantial inefficiency that two young college students, (David Kasteler and John Keller) saw in the surplus book industry.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of books and periodicals were being discarded due to general market forces.  Because of prohibitive costs, many eligible books weren’t being recycled or donated.  John and David believed that on a big enough scale, surplus book materials could be collected and sorted to identify which books could be sold to perpetuate the company, which obsolete or damaged books should be recycled and which current and appropriate books should be donated to qualified charities.

Thus Worldwide Book Drive, (WBD) was born!  WBD currently receives and collects approximately 20,000 pounds of books per week and employees 10 full-time equivalent employees. To date, WBD has donated more than 500,000 books and recycled more than 1.2 million pounds.

Obsolete books are recycled in partnership with Life Skills Center, a sheltered workshop for disabled adults.  As a result of this program, mal-adaptive behavior among the more than 85 participating individuals has dropped more than 25% and per individual income has increased more than 200%.

The donating process includes identifying qualified recipients and managing shipping logistics.  Most domestic shipping and handling fees are paid for by WBD.

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Of their funding challenges, John says:

“When (we) first started, raising money for WBD was extremely difficult.  Because of its social mission, many investors didn’t want to participate.  A lot of people told us to go and do a fundraiser.  That didn’t jive with our vision of a sustainable social venture and so we kept building the company on our own credit.  I clearly remember maxing out my credit line and thinking ‘wow, so this is what’s it’s like to really run out of money.’  Living the dream.  We went really lean and eventually qualified for an SBA line of credit and cleared all of our debts.  Now we’ve got great credit and looking to grow!  Thanks FundingUniverse!”

We wish John and Worldwide Book Drive the best of luck as the continue in the funding and growing process.  We also want to thank all of the companies that participated in the event!  We’re already excited for our upcoming pitching events in Utah, Portland, Phoenix, and Seattle to name a few.  For a full list of events and details about participating go HERE




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