Summer means Back-to-School! Kids flock with parents in hand to their local Target to buy the prepared shopping list of pencils, erasers, glue, notebooks, and folders. However, with 51% of US students Pre-K through 12th grade qualifying for the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program, many students attend school without the necessary school supplies.  To assist these students in need, teachers spend an average of $485 out of pocket annually, totaling $1.6B nationwide. 
Yoobi wants to change that. Founded by entrepreneur Ido Leffler in 2014, Yoobi means “one for you, one for me.” For every Yoobi school supply purchased, a Yoobi item is donated to a classroom in need in the US.  In the first year of sales, Yoobi donated school supplies to 25,518 classrooms across the US impacting 765,560 students! 
The question is, what drives this success? CEO Ido Leffler defines the Yoobi business model on three key pillars – an Awesome Cause, Kickass Product, and Incredible People.  I believe these three pillars also demonstrate Yoobi’s success at effectively marrying its business and operating models.
An Awesome Cause:
To create and capture value, a business must first define its mission. The mission to supply every child in need with the necessary school supplies is an admirable one. Through applying a well-known trend of Buy One, Give One, made famous by Toms Shoes, Yoobi utilizes revenues to produce and curate classroom packs that are donated to schools identified as in need. As attention to social impact and entrepreneurship continues to grow in the US, the opportunity to capture consumer value through philanthropically based products is huge! As Ido shared in an interview with Business Rockstars: “70% of people are buying Yoobi primarily because of the give, primarily because of the good it does for schools around them.”  Key Message: find a cause that drives the hearts and dollars of the consumer to drive your business to success.
Quality is key to the success of the Yoobi mission. In a world driven by social media commentary, the need to ensure the highest quality possible for each product sold in store and donated to kids in need is a top priority. Yoobi recognized this need to produce high quality goods at a price affordable enough that product retails cover the cost of both an item sold and donated while maintaining affordability for the consumer. For this reason Yoobi partnered with sourcing experts to identify high quality vendors and factories with whom Yoobi was able to vertically integrate and source the product at both an affordable cost and high level of quality. If a business does not have the means to produce a product in house, identifying and utilizing a vendor or factory known for an optimal level of quality and affordability is essential for transforming an idea into a saleable good.
Lastly, passionate individuals and partners drive a mission’s success. Yoobi employs 30 individuals who are “superhuman in terms of their passions for this project.”  In addition to its employees, Yoobi recognized the need to attract a vast consumer base given the large scale of its mission. Through partnering with Target, Yoobi has been placed on the shelves of 1000+ retail stores nationwide selling more than 10 M units of product and earning over $20M in revenue in its first year funding the donation of kits to over 700,000 students.  Additionally, through partnering with the Kids in Need Foundation, Yoobi has utilized the Kids in Need Foundation’s vast network of schools to ensure its Classroom Packs are donated to the schools most in need – primarily those identified with 90% of students on free and reduced-price lunch.  Partnerships ensure the value concept created by a business is executed effectively and efficiently. Through utilizing the partner resources available to get these school supplies produced and distributed, Yoobi is able to both get its products in the hands of consumers as well as deliver supplies to kids in need.
In 2015, Yoobi opened its first retail store in L.A. to support local students in need. Within three months of operations, Yoobi was able to donate school supplies to over 4,000 kids in the community.  Yoobi has identified up to a quarter of a million K-3rd Grade classrooms still in need of support.  By emphasizing the strong mission, ensuring the sale and donation of high quality items, and empowering a dedicated and passionate team and partnership base, Yoobi is on track to reach those students and make a difference – one pencil at a time!