The value of your company is inextricably linked to the value you offer the world.
That’s how KIND Healthy Snacks founder (and “Shark Tank” guest judge) Daniel Lubetzky filters through startups when he’s looking to invest.
Lubetzky founded his healthy-snack empire in 2004, and it’s now estimated to be worth around $2.9 billion. The company produces snack bars you may have seen in your office kitchen or in grocery store aisles. Lubetzky is an investor as well as an entrepreneur, and while he is appreciative of socially minded founders, it’s not the only factor that causes him to back a startup.
“I, of course, have chosen in my journey to attach myself to ventures and investments that have a social impact component because that’s what gives me meaning,” Lubetzky told Business Insider. “But I don’t think it’s a prerequisite for me, and it’s not an absolute prerequisite for me to only invest in companies that have a social mission.”
That’s because the value that the company offers consumers via quality and other factors takes precedence over the social mission. In fact, the only thing that Lubetzky would never invest in a company that claims a social mission when in fact all it wants is to sell a product — and the social mission is just a means to sell the product.
As a founder himself, Lubetzky prioritizes fulfilling the dreams of the company founders he interacts with, regardless of the equity stake that he ends up buying in that company. He says his goal is to guide and empower the founders to fulfill the mission of their companies.
“I am very careful about choosing to partner only with people who are high integrity, that share the values of respect, integrity, hard work, and kindness,” Lubetzky said. “They have to be someone I can believe in.”
In the early days of KIND, Lubetzky established his own values as a founder by asking how the company could do kind things for its consumers.
“We would give umbrellas to people when it was raining, or we would carry their groceries,” Lubetzky said. “It was all us surprising our consumers with kind acts.”
Lubetzky tied the mission, actions, and even branding of his company to a culture of kindness. It should come as no surprise that his number one criteria for working with entrepreneurs is associating with people who share the same values.
The multiplied impact of developing the need for social good in entrepreneurs also applies to culture. As Lubetzky put it, a founder’s personality is often reflected in the company’s culture, for better or for worse.
“You’ve seen in the news a lot of examples of people who are doing self-dealing,” Lubetzky said. “Then you go into their companies and you get that feeling that the company’s DNA is very much connected to that behavior. It really sets the tone.”