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Mike Radparvar, Co-Founder of Holstee (INTERVIEW)

On Using a Manifesto, Not a Business Plan

— March 25, 2012 — Social Good
The Holstee manifesto -- you'd probably recognize it if you saw it -- has become one of the most well known word-based inspirational products on the Internet. As the founders -- brothers Mike and Dave Radparvar, and their friend Fabian Pfortmüller -- say, this manifesto substituted a business plan for their social enterprise, which sells eco-friendly fashion and accessories and gives 10% of their profits to Kiva.org.

We recently did a social business profile on Holstee in which we shared that their manifesto has been viewed over 60 million times online. Today we're beyond excited to share our interview with Mike who shares why they chose to work with Kiva, how the Holstee manifesto impacts their own culture, and his sources of inspiration and creativity.


4 Questions With Mike Radparvar, Co-Founder of Holstee

1. How did you come up with the idea to incorporate Kiva into the business model?
When we first learned about Muhammad Yunus and the way he repositioned how microlending could work, we loved the idea and started lending individually through Kiva.org. It wasn't long before we realized we could really scale our impact if it became a part of a business model. We were just starting Holstee and found it would be a perfect fit. With a return rate of better than 98% and the loan circling back within six months, it was realistic for us to commit a good amount of revenue without it becoming a serious drain on cash flow. And so, lending forward 10% of our sales to impoverished entrepreneurs has been a part of Holstee since day one.

2. The Holstee Manifesto has taken off in a big way. What does the manifesto mean to you, and how have you integrated it into your culture?
We never imagined how well the manifesto would be received; we've been pretty blown away. The greatest part has been witnessing how much people around the world have in common. Regardless of age, gender, location or class, the manifesto seems to resonate with people across the spectrum.

The manifesto influences the way we make decisions at Holstee, how we design products, and of course the types of lives we hope to lead. It's helped us answer one of the most important questions: why?

3. How do you get your inspiration?
I dont think there is a single source for our inspiration. Surrounding ourselves with creative thinkers is a key component of the mix. Our community has also been a great driver of thought-provoking conversation in our team.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Reading books on foreign topics, bicycle rides, yoga and cooking.



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