Launching a social enterprise post-Bain

Dave is a second year consultant who recently left Bain to work full-time on his new social enterprise, BookBugs. Read on to learn about how he plans to improve literacy and spread the joy of reading to children across the U.S.

Bain’s social impact focus on education is one that really resonates with me, and my particular passion is to get books into kids’ hands.  The lack of access to books in low-income areas has long been a problem that has plagued educators and policymakers. A recent study showed that in most low-income neighborhoods, there is an average of just one book for every 300 kids, while in middle-income neighborhoods, those numbers flip – there are 14 books for every one child. Another depressing statistic comes from the childcare programs that should provide a great place for kids to gain access to books, but unfortunately, 80% of low-income daycare and afterschool programs report having no books (not just a few books, but zero books) for their kids. I decided to leave Bain and start a company called BookBugs because I wanted to focus on solving this problem.

Bookbugs

BookBugs is a for-profit online children’s bookseller with a social mission to spread the joy of reading to everyone. We do this by donating one book to a child with limited or no access to books for every three sold on our site. We offer both new and classic children’s books, and also a subscription service designed to improve our customers’ reading skills. With this service, we send subscribers 1-3 new books each month tailored to their reading level and interests, with the books gradually increasing in difficulty to make sure the reader is progressing at an appropriate pace.   

BookBugs kids

From the first donation at my new social enterprise, BookBugs.net

To me, being for-profit was an important decision. In the end, we decided that we can eventually make the greatest impact by becoming a Benefit Corporation, because it means we can build a sustainable business that relies on sales rather than donations from others (note that we have not yet officially incorporated as a Benefit Corp, but plan to do so soon). In many ways, this will be more challenging, but my time at Bain has provided fantastic training as we try to build a lasting and meaningful organization.

In addition to the skills I have gained at Bain, the Bain alumni network and our education partnerships have been critical to our early success at BookBugs. Not only have Bainies been some of our best customers, but I’ve been able to get in touch with major charter school networks like KIPP (one of our enduring partners), a well-known accelerator program called MassChallenge, several contacts in the book publishing world, impact investors, and even a few people who liked what we’re doing so much that they want to discuss possible jobs at BookBugs. It’s a fantastic network to be a part of.

I encourage you to check out BookBugs, and if you’d like to learn more, sign up for our monthly newsletter to see how things are going. I think it is a great company with a great mission – and I could never have launched it without Bain’s help.

One Response to Launching a social enterprise post-Bain

  1. Congratulations Dave! I will for sure follow BookBugs ;D

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