In 2010, Tim Brown was playing soccer for his native New Zealand team in the FIFA World Cup. He’d look at his corporate-sponsored shoes and wonder why they were so over-logoed, over-colored, and most importantly: uncomfortable. Brown was intrigued by the idea of creating minimalist shoes that tread light on the planet. After years of research and experimentation, Brown launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised $120,000 in just five days – enough to create the first prototype.
When Tim teamed up with biotech and renewables expert Joseph Zwillinger in 2015, the true concept for Allbirds took shape: create the “world’s most comfortable shoe” from sustainable merino wool. The duo raised $2.7 million in seed funding in 2016 and nearly $30 million in 2018, scaling the business. Since its inception, Allbirds has remained committed to better business through reliance on natural materials, regenerative agriculture ,and renewable energy practices.
Last year, Allbirds wrote an email to the world’s biggest fashion brands inviting them to use the proprietary Carbon Footprint tools they spent years and thousands of dollars to develop.
“For too long, many brands have focused on marketing sustainability rather than actually implementing holistic, high-impact solutions — and to an extent, it’s worked,” Zwillinger said the letter. “If we want to continue pushing fashion toward a more sustainable future, we need brands to take responsibility for what they share with consumers. Having a key, universal identifier like Carbon Footprint to evaluate sustainability claims and force accountability from businesses is critical to drowning out the noise.”
Allbirds is a Certified B Corp, which certifies sustainability, and the first shoe company to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Recently, Allbirds had a successful IPO (NASDAQ: BIRD) as it enters its next phase of growth. The company is still run by the duo, who share CEO duties. Joey Zwillinger will join the Club to share challenges and opportunities of growing a truly sustainable business, including lessons learned in the early years and what it means to have carbon as a performance metric.
Participants must register by NOON on January 26th to receive details on joining the discussion. The Zoom link will be sent out 24 hours before the event.
Please note that no refunds will be issued.
Co-Founder at Allbirds
Joey Zwillinger has served as Allbirds’ Co-Chief Executive Officer since October 2015 and as its President and a member of board of directors since he co-founded the company in May 2015. Prior to cofounding Allbirds, Zwillinger served as Vice President of Industrial Products at TerraVia Holdings, Inc. (formerly Solazyme, Inc.), a biotechnology company from 2009 to 2015. Zwillinger has served on the board of directors of Big Sky Growth Partners, Inc., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition corporation, since April 2021. Zwillinger holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. with honors from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Partner, Vici Partners
Lance Stuart is a partner at Vici Partners. He has over 30 years of consulting and operating experience, principally in the U.S., Japan and China. Clients span industries from cosmetics and consumer electronics to software, chemicals, insurance, airlines and telecoms. He has been an investor, co-founder, CEO, COO and board member of several companies in the U.S. and Asia. He began his career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company in New York then transferred to Tokyo.
Lance earned a B.S. in economics and marketing, cum laude, from Boston College and an MBA from Harvard Business School (’78), where he was awarded two academic scholarships. He was raised in Tokyo and is an active volunteer in several non-profit organizations including the Harvard Business School Club of NY, the Harvard Business School Association of Orange County and as a Council Member on the U.S.-Japan Council.
1460 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036