Stephan Stegeman is a man on a mission and founded the 100% vegan marketplace, Shop Like You Give a Damn. As Co-Founder and CEO, he has a lot of wisdom to share with us all.
We are Europe’s largest 100% vegan marketplace that verifies and aggregates fair and sustainable brands in fashion, cosmetics and homeware.
“Shop Like You Give a Damn is THE online department store for ethical shopping:, says Stephan Stegeman. “We give a damn about the world and encourage you to do the same. So: shop compassionately. And as little as possible. But when you do buy something, make it a vegan, fair and sustainable purchase. Use our 14 ethical & sustainability criteria to filter on the values that matter to you most!”
What was your eureka moment?
Our eureka moment came right after a pigeon targeted my soon to become co-founder Alex with a well-aimed dropping. I was ranting to him about how hard it was to find decent clothing as a vegan man and saw the light a few minutes later: I wasn’t the only vegan person on earth, and if I couldn’t find a solution to my problem, this was probably because there wasn’t one.
We started researching and found out that there was indeed no vegan place with a comprehensive offering of ethical clothes.
How did you validate your idea?
After we had the idea, we went to work on the business model we wanted to use. As soon as we had a clear picture, we set up a Google Ads account, created a few search ads for a vegan department store (at this time not existing) and ran them. When someone would click on this ad, they would land on a page that said something along the lines of:
“Hi, so awesome of you to visit this page! Unfortunately, the vegan department store doesn’t exist yet, but we want to build it. If you’d like to be kept in the loop, please leave your email address behind.”
We generated around 1600 impressions, 220 clicks and got 40 addresses in 3 days with a small budget and considered our idea validated.
What one failure are you glad you experienced?
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”. The ‘best’ failure we experienced was thinking that we had our ethics on an acceptable level in the beginning. We were called out for that by a few industry experts (they said we were greenwashing) and that sent us on a learning journey we are still on at the present moment. We have learned so much because of this, and our ethical approach is the better for it.
What piece of industry advice do you often hear that you disagree with and why?
That you need to be careful with whom you share your business ideas because otherwise, people will steal your idea. This might be true in a very few situations, but in general, it’s not the case. Almost all entrepreneurs know how hard it is to sell your ‘amazing and unique’ product/service to your target audience. Most of the time you really need to ram it down their throat. Especially when it comes to doing something good for this world, we need to work together. Learn from one another and collaborate. We shouldn’t hide good ideas that might never see daylight because of ‘the fear of being stolen’.
What role has social media played in your success?
Not much, to be honest. It’s the channel that generates the least amount of revenue. We believe that one can really connect with an audience on social media if you approach it from a personal angle, and it’s probably a great way to remind people you exist and to establish a form of community with your target audience, but this hasn’t been the case for us yet.
What are you most excited about for your company’s future?
We always say we want to make it easy for everyone in the world to ‘make the better choice’. And I believe we are in a position to actually do this. Verifying and aggregating beautiful brands and making sure people around the globe get access to them. To really make an impact with our startup.
That’s what excites us most and gets us out of bed every morning.
Quickfire tips on how to start a business with Stephan Stegeman:
- Start. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. the second-best time is now.
- Don’t work in your business, but work on your business. Try to make yourself obsolete. Create a business that works without you. That way you can focus on growing it.
- Believe in your own business (idea) enough that you are willing to learn how to raise money so you can build your business properly. Go all-in.