People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Does this sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably heard of the TEDX Talk by Simon Sinek called “Start with Why.” The premise of the talk is that the businesses that succeed are the businesses that communicate their why before they communicate the what and the how of the business.
When I connected with James Merrill from Opolis Eyewear he told me a beautiful story about the founding of his business. James worked for a decade as a contractor for the United States Agency for International Development and through that work, saw how single-use plastic led to the degradation of natural resources and impacted low-income communities. So, he founded Opolis - a truly sustainable line of sunglasses. They're making sunglasses out of plant-based and recycled plastics utilizing a new technology that has the potential to revolutionize the recyclability of plastic water bottles into hard goods.
After hearing James’s story and understanding why he started Opolis I was sold. I believed in the mission and was excited to become a part of the movement. However, when James mentioned that the business has struggled to get off the ground I started to wonder: Is having a “why” enough? In this episode James and I discuss this idea and explore the challenges of starting a sustainable business in 2023.
Here’s what we discussed:
- what it takes for a consumer to actually CARE about a brand
- if companies still need a strong why to succeed in today's environment
- what types of stories can "break the paradigm"
- the links between what we consume and people impacted around the globe
If there is anything I believe it’s that the businesses that ultimately succeed are the businesses that continue to work through roadblocks and continue to show up every day. Perhaps having a strong “why” won’t immediately result in sales, but it’s the difference between those who continue to strive and those who give up along the way.
I highly recommend listening to Simon Sinek’s TED Talk and then giving James’s episode a listen.
Cole, Founder of Port Side Productions and Host of the Backcountry Marketing Podcast.