In 2013, entrepreneur Davis Smith set out to build a business that could change the world. After years of searching for a way to integrate his desire to do good in the world with his business skills, he founded Cotopaxi. This benefit corporation weaves social responsibility into its supply chain, giving strategy, and product design.
As Smith explains, Cotopaxi is a unique outdoor brand built to empower people and the planet. From the outset, the company is committed to using remnant and recycled materials to create its products, and it has established core values that empower its employees to make decisions that further its mission.
The idea for Cotopaxi was born out of a moment of inspiration for Smith. One night, he was lying in bed, feeling discouraged about his business and desire to make a difference. Suddenly, he was flooded with ideas and spent the next 36 hours in a creative flow, coming up with the business model, the name, and the slogan "Gear for Good."
Smith attributes much of his entrepreneurial success to his experiences with his first two companies. PoolTables.com, his first venture, was born out of a conversation with a friend from eBay. Smith and a cousin came up with the idea to buy pool tables from factories in China and sell them on eBay. Smith's knowledge of international studies and his cousin's business savvy helped them become the largest retailer of pool tables in the US.
His second venture was a much more ambitious project, a global business-to-business e-commerce platform. Smith and his team built the platform from the ground up, and the company eventually sold to a large corporation.
The experience of starting and selling two successful companies was a pivotal moment in Smith's life. He found himself at a crossroads, with his entrepreneurial spirit urging him to go big or go home. He decided to go big, and the result was Cotopaxi.
The seeds for Cotopaxi were planted years earlier during a service project he undertook while in school. During this project, he met a little boy named Edgar in Peru and was deeply moved by his story of hardship, resourcefulness, and character. This experience left a lasting impression, and Smith was determined to use his business acumen to help people like Edgar.
Through his entrepreneurial journey, Smith has shown the world that capitalism can be a force for good. By committing to fighting poverty, Smith created a company that provides jobs and economic opportunities and positively impacts the environment. His experience proves that businesses can make a difference in the world and have a profoundly positive impact on the lives of those around them.
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