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

David Smith on Marketing Today

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)