Profit and/or Purpose? – Interview with Venture Capitalist and Social Activist David Batstone

David Batstone is not one to be easily typecast.  As you learn more about David you might get a bit perplexed not only by the uncounted, very public projects in which he plays a leading role or the multitude of positions he holds but by their often different, seemingly opposing character: theology scholar, journalists, venture capitalist, ethics professor, businessman, human rights activist…

Among many other things, David is Founder and President of ‘Not For Sale‘ a non-profit organization and campaign that seeks to eliminate factors which facilitate modern slavery around the world. He also is Co-Founder and Senior Managing Partner at ‘Just Business,’ a San Francisco a much for profit venture capital firm and very much personally invested in its holdings such as REBBL a line of “super-herb health drinks that grows faster than any other in health food stores,” he says.  A declared liberation theologian, David teaches ethics at the Jesuit Catholic University of San Francisco, writes books and still somehow finds time to come up with- and start-up new businesses on his own such as Z-Shoes a line of ‘biodegradable shoes’ that are sourced from the Peruvian Amazon. Actually, his son is a co-creator and the first round of investing went through kickstarter …

How might this all fit together?  David says he is leveraging his disciplined venture capitalist approach to create a vertically integrated ‘group for good’… ‘where people in developed markets can buy according to their values’ and where socially disadvantaged people in remote areas like the Amazon are provided with the funds or tools needed to provide their local goods and talent rather than be driven into poverty and slavery.

Ingenious? Too Good to be True?  Meaningful Marketing or Marketing Ploy?

Listen to the interview with David (click button) and let us know what you think (in the comment section below)!

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To read more about how other brands seek to create meaning beyond the material check out other case studies on our blog, podcast and read our book “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueberbrands”.

REBBL through the eyes of a ‘disciple‘ and a blogger… with the brand helping as a ‘curator’, as the disclaimer states.  Not everyone is a fan. Read this rather functional review and the emotional comment below it.  I am actually surprised that there are not more critical voices questioning the mixing of social activism and hard core capitalism ‘Not For Sale’ and ‘Just Business’ are undertaking. ‘Artisanal foods’ are increasingly under critical review, as we discussed before.  A question of time?

Here is a link to the Z-Shoe Kickstarter page, where you can see the project’s financing at work.  And here a Facebook video of David and his son Zak talking about how they founded Z-Shoes, their latest venture.

David is a declared liberation theologian.  We do not talk about that aspect in our interview.  But if you read what liberation theology is all about (~ a missionary drive to liberate the oppressed), then that also starts to make sense.

And yes... there is a NotForSale Ale, as well

And yes… there is also a NotForSale Ale


About JP Kuehlwein

JP Kuehlwein is a global business leader and brand builder with a 25+ year track record of translating consumer and brand insights into transformational propositions that win in market. Principal at ‘Ueber-Brands’ a New York consulting firm, he now helps others to elevate brands and make them peerless and priceless. JP also teaches brand strategy at NYU Stern and Columbia Business School and leads the Marketing Institute at The Conference Board, all in New York. Jp previously was Executive Vice President at Frédéric Fekkai & Co, a prestige salon operator and hair care brand and lead brand- and corporate strategy development and execution at multinational Procter & Gamble as Brand Director and Director of Strategy. JP and Wolf Schaefer have co-authored the best-selling books “Rethinking Prestige Branding – Secrets of the Ueber-Brands” which lays out what drives the success of modern premium brands and "Brand Elevation - Lessons in Ueber-Branding" a guide to developing and executing a brand elevation strategy. Find the books here:
This entry was posted in 1 - Mission Incomparable - The first rule is to make your own, 4 - Behold! - The product as manifestation, 5 - Living the Dream - The bubble shall never burst, 6 - Un-Sell - The superiority of seduction, PODCAST and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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