Vincent van der Holst

172Amsterdam, NetherlandsJoined Mar 2022

Bio

We're building a non-profit sustainable marketplace (read: a sustainable Amazon that gives away all profits to EA charities), it's called BOAS and it's live on boas.co

We're trying to raise funds from the EA community and we're still looking for founders and interns, mostly in software dev/marketing/sales and overall hustling. If you have thoughts on any of those, please email me!

Thanks, Vin

Comments
38

30 second action you could take

There is actually research that suggests that people who have names early in the alphabet do a bit better in life. So although I'm sure you're joking, it is a good idea. 

GLO, a UBI-generating stablecoin that donates all yields to GiveDirectly

That does help a lot to know that the risk has been very low but does exist. Open source for security sounds like a good idea, but I'm non-technical so I might be wrong. At least the transparency of that is something that I value a lot. 

I'd still be interested to know if you would only invest in US bonds. With China likely eclipsing the US in our lifetime, and these things not always going down without a literal fight, that might make US bonds more risky than the market currently thinks, meriting a more diverse bond backing. 

Why Guided Consumption can Work

Brad has touched on the other subjects and I mostly agree with those so I won't touch them. 

About why we're doing BOAS: at first we thought this was almost completely new, and we wanted to show the world that this is a good idea, that it can work, can scale, and is a high EV opportunity. I'm now reasonably convinced that this is a good idea, because we know it works, scales and is high EV (because these companies would be better investments for philanthropists versus their competitors if  they gave to EA charities). 

Convincing existing GC's to give according to EA principles seems like EA's job to me, together with CPI. EA is trying to globalize their principles and if they are successful there are no more GC's to persuade. Unfortunately, I don't think EA is good at marketing itself to become truly big, and with my background marketing that might be an area that I someday want to take a stab at, but I'm focusing my work on proving EA aligned GC for now (which I think has much higher EV because almost no-one is working on that versus many movement builders). 

I think we haven't seen this taking off apart from Denmark because of a lack of awareness and choice. You can't choose to buy your car from a GC or in the case of BOAS, you can't buy anything sustainable from a GC. So it's critical to create the awareness and we know from Amazon smile that this could work (high growth with relatively little marketing and awareness), and it's also critical to build choices. I'm focusing on building that choice and then move on to create awareness. 

Writing a bestselling book about this idea, convincing 1000 people to start GC's, resulting in 100 successful businesses and 10 GC unicorns might be higher value, but then again, I'm a terrible writer.

Convincing 10 billionaires this is a great idea also seems like high EV, and I think that's something we're already trying to do with BOAS in the form of showing it can be done and we can multiply their money. But again, I view this more as the job of EA as a whole.

Another high EV would be to establish a GC VC fund that can fund 100 of these businesses and see a couple turn into unicorns, and then we hope more and more will follow. 

I have many ideas, but I'm focusing on execution right now. 

Why Guided Consumption can Work

I agree with that. We mentioned in this post that the research might have a risk of sampling bias, but if others also think we weigh this evidence too heavily, we will address that in the text. 

I would like to note that Guided Consumption is not only focused on consumer goods, but we think that's a good segment to test this in, but we believe other segments are very much possible too (any company can be a Guided Company, although it will make more sense in some areas more than others). 

I believe a focus on longtermism is a good strategy in any company (also consumer goods), and with lower short-term pressures in the absence of ROI investors, Guiding Companies are uniquely suited to use that to their advantage. 

GLO, a UBI-generating stablecoin that donates all yields to GiveDirectly

I think this is an incredible idea and would love for it to win. My biggest concern with this pivot is the odds of the loans defaulting and philanthropy and people potentially losing billions of dollars. But if USD bonds default, it's likely that the US is going through a very bad time, and the USD (instead of GLO) that was otherwise held would potentially do very poorly too. Is there any sort of research on the odds of these bonds collapsing, and how does that relate to the yield? 

A smaller concern is that crypto has had major hacks that stole millions to billions (I unfortunately was part of one of those hacks), and I would like the GLO team to think and assess the risk of that happening to them. 

And if the "In theory GLO sounds great but it’s absurdly ambitious and unlikely to succeed" is a negative feedback point, I strongly disagree with that. With your two million seed donation and the potential being 2900 billion a year in UBI, any odds that are above 0% are worth that initial investment. At EAG London it was emphasized many times we should be pursuing bigger ambitions, yet I continue to hear from people with the most ambitious ideas that they are told to be realistic. You can always make the idea smaller, but it's hard to make an unambitious idea ambitious. If you get this feedback it means you're on the right track! 

GLO, a UBI-generating stablecoin that donates all yields to GiveDirectly

FTX and Binance have credit cards that could let you hold GLO and convert it in USD at the moment you buy something (like a car). If GLO get's listed on those platforms you should be able to pay with GLO instantly using a mastercard or similar from those platforms. 

Making Trillions for Effective Charities through the Consumer Economy

Although that would be great, from all of the research I read about donations, it doesn't seem that effectiveness is a big factor for consumers. I do think a certification for effectiveness could help, but based on the data I'm pessimistic how much it would add compared to marketing your charity effectively. 

Making Trillions for Effective Charities through the Consumer Economy

Please note that my latest comment includes the research paper with additional data. Looking forward to receiving more feedback. 

Making Trillions for Effective Charities through the Consumer Economy

A lot of the critique that we get is that we can't be sure this works because we haven't done enough research or can provide data to show that this works. That's great critique and this post addresses both.

Research

We commissioned research (a Master's Thesis that was just successfully defended) on the economic sustainability of philanthropic enterprises (i.e. guiding companies) that donate all profits. Please note the research was completely independent but we did pay the researcher for their time. 
 

Here is the main conclusion of the paper (I encourage people to read the abstract and discussion and conclusion if they want to understand more): 


"The thematic analysis demonstrates that philanthropic enterprises should be able to meet the economic needs of their current and future stakeholders without compromising the objective to donate all of their profits to non-profit organisations and charitable causes. However, the research findings do not suggest that their corporate philanthropy alone is enough to drive economic sustainability. Instead, philanthropic enterprises should preserve some flexibility in the yearly donation percentage and reinvest a part of their profits to market their philanthropic endeavours and develop their business."

For those who want to dig deeper into all of the data and citations, you can find the thesis here

Data

I want to emphasize that there is already a lot of data in the paper, but this is additional data that we have. 

  • We ran the exact ad from a competitor (one of our most successful competitors) and swapped one headline of three headlines from "100% sustainable baby products" to "100% of profits go to charity".  We changed the sustainable message in the description (one of two) to a donation message also. The non-profit ad was clicked on 50% more than our competitor's ad  (5.99% interaction rate vs 9.24% interaction rate).
  • We ran a qualitative analysis asking people how they would rate a company that donates 10% of profits to charities and how they would rate a company that donates all profits. 10% of profits was rated 7.1 and all profits was rated 8.7. Please note that donating 10% of profits is already exceptional. 
  • The reply rate to our cold emails to sustainable brands is more than 20%. This is, by far, the best cold email I've ever sent. The average reply rate of cold emails is 1-5%. The conversion from reply to signed brands is almost 50%, meaning that for every 10 cold emails we sign up 1 sustainable brand (10% conversion rate). Most cold email campaigns are well under 1%. 
  • Brands sign up with higher commission percentages. Multiple brands have told us explicitly that we ask for a higher commission than the competition (they are usually on more than one marketplace) but that they accept that because we donate all profits. 
  • To conclude: it's easier for us to sign up brands, and we sign them for higher percentages than our competitors. 

Please note that we will do purchase intent research tomorrow (what is currently our most risky business assumption) to see if consumers go for the donation option significantly more than a regular offering and we will test this with identical products and with a product people have a small disliking for, to see if people sometimes go for the lesser option if the proceeds go to charity. We will share here once we have the results of that research. 

Consolidating feedback

Brand and I have talked to a lot of people over the last couple of months about this concept and we get a lot of the same feedback, so we will start consolidating everything into one sheet together with us addressing the feedback. We will share that once it's done. 

Of course, more research and data is needed, but what we have found so far is very encouraging for the prospects of guiding companies. 

Making Trillions for Effective Charities through the Consumer Economy

Yeah we can definitely do that. We have a research paper coming out on Monday with loads of references and data and the research is independent (but sponsored by BOAS). Will post it here once it comes out. 

You can already look at our pitch for investors/philanthropists which has some data points from ads and talking to more than 100 user and 50 brands. We always encourage feedback so feel free to reply.  

Load More