69: Davis Smith believes doing good and building a great business can go hand in hand

David Smith on Marketing Today

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In this week’s episode of “Marketing Today,” Alan talks with Davis Smith, the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, and outdoor gear company with a humanitarian mission at its core. It was his experience growing up and later serving missions in countries like the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Bolivia — where he witnessed extreme poverty firsthand — that planted the seeds for his career path, and the eventual founding of Cotopaxi.

In describing Cotopaxi, Smith says, “We’re a brand. We’re a brand that is about inspiring people to go out and do good. We’re a brand that believes that capitalism can be a force for good in the world. A brand that believes that businesses need to look beyond their bottom lines to try find ways they can impact their communities and people around the world.”

About his values-driven approach, Smith adds, “I’m still learning…but I think if all of us start making these efforts, man, what a wonderful world we’ll live in.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today” podcast include:

  • Smith talks about witnessing poverty in the Dominican Republic as a child and realizing he wasn’t any different than those kids, just luckier. (1:30)
  • The story of Edgar and his shoe-shine kit: A memory that fuels Smith’s deep-seated feeling of responsibility. (2:52)
  • Self-examination of his talents led Smith down the entrepreneurial path. (5:57)
  • Doing good through the mechanism of business. (9:58)
  • Smith believes in capitalism as a force for good, and yet he feels it can be incredibly destructive — to people and the planet. (12:34)
  • Cotopaxi builds its do-good mission into every aspect of the brand. (14:47)
  • “People who love the outdoors want to connect to something bigger than themselves. (18:20)
  • Cotopaxi isn’t looking to steal share, they want to expand the category. (19:24)
  • Smith describes Cotopaxi as a digitally native vertical brand. (24:26)
  • Smith on the future of marketing: Brands will need to connect with consumers using offline experiences. (31:00)
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