Virginia B Corps at Tom Tom Founders Fest

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Matt Curtin, Director of Business Strategy, Impact Makers; Ryan Mauter, Regional Brand Manager, New Belgium Brewing Company; Crystal Mario, CEO & Founder, Rivanna Natural Designs; Paul Nolde, Small Business Capital Strategist, Virginia Community Capital; John O’Neill, Founder, Thinkhaus Design.

From the VA B Blast, a newsletter to connect and grow Virginia’s B Community of Certified B Corps and Benefit Corporations.

Virginia B Corps were out in force at the Tom Tom Founders Fest in mid-April.  Matt Curtin from Impact Makers moderated the B Corps panel, and began with the perennial question: “what’s the difference between a Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp?”  Crystal Mario from Rivanna Natural Designs fielded the question and did her best to get everyone in Charlottesville’s Old Metropolitan Hall on the same page.  The venue was packed and, as encouraged by Matt, audience members were quick to jump in and ask questions.

The panelists discussed business as a force for good and keys to business success.  John 0’Neill of Thinkhaus Design talked about how becoming a B Corp had helped him to differentiate his business and made him a better manager. In response to several questions about financing and small business lending, Paul Nolde of Virginia Community Capital explained that, while VCC requires evidence of sound financial management, the lender sees the B Impact Assessment as a way to assess overall business practices and determine a business’s current or potential community impact.

Everyone’s favorite “beer guy” Ryan Mauter of New Belgium Brewing Company talked about the responsibilities and realities of employee ownership, and how the definition of “local” is being challenged by growing companies like New Belgium that seek active community engagement wherever employees live. Matt Curtin talked about Impact Makers’ unique “no shareholder” business model and how IM leverages its “B” status in a market dominated by traditional technology consulting firms.

Based on the size of the crowd and the level of interest at Tom Tom, Charlottesville is clearly a “B” friendly and “B” curious city.  Many thanks to the Richmond B Corps for making the trip up 64, sharing their insights, and lighting the way forward!

Check out more Virginia B Corp News.