Instant Karma

These social entrepreneurs are running successful small businesses and making the world a better place.

Richard Ludlow

Richard Ludlow believes that “everyone on earth should have access to a world class education.” In January of this year, the 23-year-old Yale grad and social entrepreneur launched Academic Earth, a website that provides access to videos of university lectures and other educational content.

Ludlow came up with the idea for Academic Earth while searching for help understanding a tough concept in his linear algebra class. He came across MIT’s OpenCourseWare that had an entire course from the professor’s actual textbook. Ludlow realized that this was a great resource that not many people knew about.

To Ludlow, social entrepreneurs are people that are going out there and not just walking outside and holding up a sign, but are really doing a lot of team building to accomplish a goal.

“I feel compelled to do something that I feel is making a difference on a large scale,” Ludlow said. “For me to be really motivated by something, I feel like it really needs to make a difference.”

As far as the best part of his experience so far, Ludlow said it’s the response they’ve gotten from users that love the product. “We see people posting on Twitter every day that they can’t believe they can get an education from schools like Yale and Harvard. We also had over a million visits in 77 days. Now, we’re receiving hundreds of thousands of unique visitors per month.”

Academic Earth offers over 1,500 videos from MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Princeton and Yale. They are adding more every day on subjects ranging from entrepreneurship to economics and history to philosophy.

Miranda Magagnini

When Miranda Magagnini and Peter Strugatz bought a failing company with a viable product, their goal was to create recycled residential and commercial surface materials in an environmentally friendly way. Since IceStone’s founding in 2003, they’ve done so much more.

IceStone’s line of counter tops, flooring, back splashes, and interior wall finishes are made from 100% recycled glass and concrete.

IceStone is the first and only durable surface material in the world to receive McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC)’s Cradle to Cradle Gold certification. Cradle to Cradle assesses products on a number of criteria, such as the use of safe and healthy materials, design for material reuse and recycling, efficient use of energy and water throughout production, and instituting strategies for social responsibility.

IceStone makes their manufacturing process, product, and business operations as sustainable as possible including developing a cool, low-emission manufacturing process, using a day lit factory, implementing a grey water recycling system, replacing petroleum-based machine lubricants with soy-based ones and using 100% recycled (post-consumer and post-industrial) glass.

According to Magagnini, IceStone is a triple bottom line company. “We are focused on people, planet and profits—so that we can create a company that is truly sustainable,” she said. “We have deep social policies.”

Also, a large percentage of IceStone employees are Tibetan refugees.

In many regards, Magagnini said, giving back has always been a priority for her. “I attended Brooklyn Friends School and it taught me the Quaker values of community service. And more and more as I have gotten older, giving back is important to model for those coming up behind us who will inherit the earth.”

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