From Cecile Oreste
For Borderstan‘s ongoing series on local entrepreneurs and businesses owners, Cecile Oreste talked to the founders of Deals for Deeds.
Josh Hoffman and Harrison Miller are both DC natives who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. After college, Josh taught English in Guatemala and Harrison worked at a private equity firm in Bethesda. Despite taking two completely different paths, the pair eventually joined together earlier this year to launch an innovative and sustainable business called Deals For Deeds.
Deals For Deeds is a daily deal site that not only offers discounts at local area businesses, but also contributes a percentage of the sales to charitable organizations. Some of the non-profits that have benefited from this unique fundraising model include Back On My Feet, Living Classrooms and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Next month, Becky’s Fund and Anacostia Watershed Society will be among the organizations receiving contributions from the deals sold online. This social giving component is one of the characteristics that differentiates Deals For Deeds from its competitors.
The socially conscious business model goes beyond fundraising for charitable organizations. Deals For Deeds is currently working with Casey Trees to Tree DC, a campaign dedicated to planting a tree in the District. For every 250 people in the Greater DC area who enter their zip code and e-mail address through the site, Deals For Deeds will plant a tree in DC. Josh and Harrison also go green in their daily operations by printing on recycled paper and using alternative energy sources to power their office.
Hoffman and Miller have been active in the community, helping to spread awareness of their business as well as the charitable organizations that benefit from the success of Deals For Deeds. They recently sponsored the Dupont Festival’s Soccer in the Circle, and hope to participate in the Annual Adams Morgan Day Festival in September.
In addition to taking a community based approach for spreading the word about Deals For Deeds, Josh and Harrison have partnered with small local businesses, keeping their best interests in mind.
“We’re very flexible in the way we negotiate with businesses,” Hoffman said. “We know that it’s not one size fits all so we work hand in hand to develop a sustainable model. We want to provide our businesses with new customers, but also don’t want to overburden them.”
“The numbers from our competitors don’t work for some small businesses,” Miller adds. “We let our partners put a cap on the amount of clients they want the deal to be sold to. The Deals For Deeds model is never going to outgrow small businesses. We’ll always be there for them.”
Some of the businesses Deals For Deeds has worked with in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area include Freshii, Doggie Style and ACKC, where they hosted their launch party back in April. They just inked a deal with Bistro Bistro on Connecticut Avenue, north of Dupont Circle.
In the future, Hoffman said they plan to “solidify and build on the business model which takes a market based approach to community development and social giving.” They hope to eventually expand to other communities that share their core values, working with locals to ensure they don’t forget the “nooks and crannies” of the city.