SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) HotHouse Incubator company recently launched The Future Is Good (FIG), an online marketplace that sells sustainable goods and connects users with content that teaches the importance of sustainability and provides resources needed to improve their environmental impacts.

“Our mission is to empower individuals and organizations to make the future good through education, community and sustainable shopping,” said Garret Perkins, co-founder of the startup.

The marketplace houses products that the FIG team deems ethical and sustainable. Each product is evaluated on what Perkins refers to as “the FIG value score,” a composite score of the product manufacturer’s business practices and social and environmental impacts. Many of the products that FIG sells are made by B Corporations, or companies certified as socially and environmentally responsible. 

“If your business is actually doing good for the world, then we’ll include you,” Perkins said.

The idea for FIG was first presented at the Cal Poly Entrepreneurs’ Startup Marathon, a 54-hour event in which student innovators work through the weekend to develop a business. After Startup Weekend, Perkins brought his idea to the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

FIG participated in the CIE Hatchery and HotHouse Accelerator program, which helped Perkins build his business from the ground up. FIG has moved on to the HotHouse Incubator, a CIE program that provides startup owners with the resources needed to develop their early-stage companies.

“The CIE has been instrumental in a lot of ways. Without the CIE, I don’t think I would have had anywhere near the level of direction or guidance that I’ve had thus far,” he said. “I feel like a lot of what I learned in there and a lot of the connections I made have really helped move the business forward and pivot to provide value to our customers.”

The CIE has helped FIG remain resilient through trying economic times, including a recent rebranding. FIG was previously known as Ethic Marketplace but rebranded to The Future Is Good after Perkins could not trademark their original name.

Director of the CIE HotHouse Incubator Judy Mahan has seen FIG persist in the face of strenuous circumstances.

“The most challenging times of a business are its first two years — an absolute make-or-break phase for startups,” Mahan said. “Our programming strives to provide maximum resources to our founders to navigate through the turbulence; our team of business advisors and our local legal experts have been instrumental in supporting FIG. We are so thankful to our local business community and our funders for helping us make this possible.”  

Another guiding force has been John Voris, a Cal Poly alumnus and mentor to Perkins and the rest of the FIG team. Voris is the chief systems officer at thredUP, an online thrift and consignment store. He met Perkins through the CIE, noticed similarities between the business models of both companies and offered his expertise as a resource.

“It’s really hard to run a marketplace business,” Voris said. “I tell people it’s like running two and a half businesses in one. You have to grow the demand and the supply, and you have to grow them at almost the same rate. Managing those two sides is pretty challenging.”

Voris’ mentorship has proved to be incredibly valuable. 

“There’s so much to be said about having someone there who can give you guidance that is specific to you, that takes into account where you and your business are at,” Perkins said.

FIG has achieved relative success since its Nov. 16 launch. The FIG team has received inquiries from vendors asking to be featured on their site, and their customer base has started to grow beyond the Cal Poly and CIE communities.

“I’m blown away by how many products they’re already selling,” Voris said. “They have a real chance to make it because they are really passionate and ambitious and working really hard.”

Perkins and his team plan to continue growing FIG — both the marketplace and the educational content available on the website. They hope to make FIG a resource for all things within the realm of sustainability.

“We’re only trying to expand (FIG) and offer as comprehensive of a solution as possible,” he said. “It’s just a matter of starting small and working up to it.”

Perkins thinks FIG will continue to grow as a business under the umbrella of the CIE’s HotHouse Incubator while making a lasting impact on the world by encouraging sustainable living and environmentalism.

“There are tangible steps that we can take every single day to try and make the future good,” Perkins said. “We’ll continue to build out the current tools that we offer, and then we’ll see how else we can help our customers realize the future they want to see.”

For more information about FIG, visit https://thefutureisgood.co

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