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Impact Shakers Lightning Talk: The next generation of marketing is regenerative

This summer at the Impact Shakers Summit in Brussels our co-founder Moh shared his journey to discovering regenerative marketing. Watch Moh delve into the art of nurturing businesses in a way that not only sustains but also regenerates, breathing new life into industries and ecosystems alike.

What’s the Impact Shakers Summit?

The Impact Shakers Summit is the inaugural European startup event with a sharp focus on inclusive entrepreneurship and impact. This significant summit united key players in the innovation ecosystem, all dedicated to advancing inclusivity and sustainability for our shared future.

Who are Impact Shakers?  

Impact Shakers form connections, foster growth, and invest wisely. In their eyes, entrepreneurship serves as the engine of change. Yet, they recognise that unraveling intricate challenges demands a tapestry of diverse minds. That’s where the Impact Shakers ecosystem shines, tilting the playing field and rewriting the entrepreneurial story.

Their mission spans the life journey of impact-driven enterprises, from the spark of inspiration to the flourishing stages of growth and successful exits. In this transformative journey, they partner with both visionary entrepreneurs and savvy investors to make the world a better place, one step at a time.

Start your regenerative marketing journey today

Unlearn the toxic and outdated business paradigm and embrace a regenerative growth marketing approach.

The Growth4Good Newsletter

Soulful Content Creation that Elevates Early and Scaling Regenerative Ventures to Amplify Their Voice

Introducing our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” Services

In the beautiful complexity of life, nature offers us valuable lessons in resilience and adaptability. At Zebra Growth, we are inspired by the natural world to create marketing and branding stories that not only connect with people’s hearts but also help heal our planet.

Our mindful audiences face a daily barrage of marketing messages, making it essential for impact-driven ventures to produce content that is both extraordinary and deeply meaningful. The rise of AI and chatGPT has only increased this challenge, filling our customers’ minds with dull content lacking substance.

For impact ventures to truly thrive, they must clearly communicate their value propositions. Inspired by mother nature herself, our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” services provide tailored solutions for non-profits, social enterprises, and impact-driven businesses while embracing elegance, authenticity, and honest expression in our conscious approach.

What can you expect from our services?

  • A team of experts in design, copywriting, and website development, inspired by nature’s adaptability and regenerative processes
  • Customized, eco-centric solutions for your organisation’s unique needs
  • Flexible options, including one-time projects, pay-as-you-go services, or retainer packages
  • Consistent, high-quality content that embodies your brand identity and ecological values
  • Meaningful, data-driven content creation with a focus on regeneration and healing
  • Measurable results that align with your goals and foster a healthier planet

Now, let’s delve into the details.

Our “design and communicate” services provide impact-led ventures access to the copywriting, design and website development talent they need in the most flexible way. 

There are three easy ways to access this support: 

One off projects 

Our core team works closely with you to create compelling messaging and design. Working with an extended team of specialist freelancers, we also support the production of branded videos, product photography and experience design.

We take a holistic approach to communication, ensuring that your brand is applied consistently across all channels. From website design and development, to brochure and deck design, we offer a wide range of brand assets.

Take a look at a few recent examples of one-off projects below: 

Accelerating an end to homeless with Crisis Venture Studio – Brand deck design and copy

Facilitating flexible working with a global network of on-demand workspaces – Video production 


We provide impact ventures with an on-demand option to choose the services you need when you need them. We can help with brand guideline creation, landing page design, and copywriting. 

Pay-as-you-go services are ideal for occasional needs where flexibility is a high priority..

Whether it’s a one off landing page design like this one for Intelligent Growth Solutions, or flexible video production for Grand Bequest, we will most likely have an option to suit your needs.


Our retainer services are for those looking for more regular support. We provide content packages to ensure your brand message is always on point so your customers hear from you consistently. 

Whether it’s SEO copywriting, or regular design support, our retainer customers enjoy discounted pricing that isn’t available with our other packages.

Check out this vertical farming blog we produced as part of a retainer package to create content for technical products and services that boosts SEO

Embrace the resilience and adaptability of nature with our “Regenerative Design & Communicate” services, tailored to help your impact-driven venture heal, grow, and thrive.

So, what type of work do we specialise in?

  • Brand Guidelines: 

Do you already have a strong brand identity, but find that your communications are still inconsistent across different channels? Establishing a clear set of rules and standards will provide continuity and allow your brand to shine. We’ll make sure your brand is represented consistently to build trust with your audience.

  • UX/UI Digital Design Systems: 

Do you already have a robust set of brand guidelines? Take them to the next level with a digital design system. Remove the guess-work with a working tool to ensure a seamless user experience, from initial interaction to final conversion. Design that is intuitive, functional and visually appealing.

  • Website and Product Design and Development: 

We specialise in creating custom-designed websites and products that are  beautiful and effective in driving business growth and customer engagement.

  • Photography and Videography Production: 

Capture your brand’s story in visually and emotionally compelling ways through video and photography, whether it’s short social reels, or a long form documentary.

  • Print Media Design and Copywriting: 

Highly effective print media that engages your audience and communicates your brand’s message. Our holistic approach ensures a consistent brand experience between the physical and digital worlds.

  • Events and Experiences Design: 

The spaces we occupy and invite people into are an extension of your brand and a physical and experiential representation of it. We craft rich brand environments that leave a positive lasting memory for people to take home. 

  • Deck Design and Copywriting: 

Create compelling visual presentations that effectively communicate your brand’s message and story. We understand the pressure to impress investors, and a well crafted presentation can make a world of difference to communicate your mission.

  • SEO Blog Research, Copy and Design: 

Our experienced content creators provide research-driven blog copy and design to attract organic traffic and drive engagement.

  • Newsletter Copy and Design: 

Eye-catching and effective newsletters that deliver value to your audience and keep them engaged with your brand.

Watch the video below to learn more about the different types of copywriting we can support with: 

We’ve covered the what, now let’s explore the why…

Why is content creation important for your impact venture?

Content creation is a vital aspect of any impact venture’s success. It’s the backbone that supports the connection between your organisation and your audience. Without it, your mission and vision can easily get lost in the noise of the digital world.

One of the key benefits of content creation for impact-driven organisations is its ability to inspire action and create meaningful change. With the right messaging, you can attract individuals who share your values and encourage them to take action towards a common goal. This tribe effect can create momentum, and allow your mission to be realised much quicker.

Consistent and high-quality content also plays a critical role in establishing trust with an audience. By producing valuable and informative content on a regular basis, you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build credibility. A strong content strategy helps you to attract new supporters, and keep existing ones.

Moreover, investing in content creation helps you to create a strong brand identity. By developing a consistent tone of voice and visual style, you can create a recognisable brand that continues to strengthen over time. A strong brand identity will help you differentiate from competitors and build trust.

Who’s content game is strong?

Guayaki is a regenerative brand that creates sustainable products with environmental and social well-being in mind. Their content creation strategy aligns with their brand mission, and it reflects their commitment to sustainability and regenerative practices.

Here are a few ways in which Guayaki’s content creation strategy is doing good:

  • Educating consumers: Guayaki’s content educates consumers about regenerative agriculture and sustainable practices, and shares information about the environmental benefits of their products.
  • Highlighting their values: Guayaki’s content showcases their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility through their mission statement, sustainability goals, and progress updates on social media.
  • Storytelling: Using storytelling, they connect with their audience and showcase the impact of their products and practices, such as their partnership with the Ache Guayaki community in Paraguay.
  • Visuals: Their content includes visually appealing images and videos that highlight the natural beauty of the environment and the communities they work with.

Patagonia are leading the way with SEO content

Patagonia’s successful SEO strategy can be attributed to their focus on creating high-quality content that aligns with their brand values and mission to have a positive impact on the environment and society. They use a variety of formats, including articles, videos, and infographics, to educate their audience on topics related to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices.

Patagonia also pays attention to technical SEO best practices, such as optimising their website structure and ensuring mobile-friendliness and fast page load speeds. Their commitment to environmental and social responsibility has helped them earn backlinks from high-authority websites, increasing their domain authority and improving their search engine rankings.

This SEO success is reflected in their website traffic, with over 10 million monthly visits, and their large number of backlinks from over 120,000 referring domains. Patagonia’s SEO success has also been recognized by industry publications, including winning the award for Best Integrated Campaign at the US Search Awards in 2018.

How can you work with us?

We have a simple 5 step process to establish if we are the right fit to support you with your content needs: 

Step 1 –  You’ll start with a 90 minute diagnosis call with one of our growth experts. Be completely authentic, we want to get under the layers, to find out your ‘why’ and what’s holding you back. This gives us a clear understanding of your needs and how we could help.

Step 2 – This is the start of the magic. We’ll present our solution to you, then together we co-create a proposal that fits your needs.

Step 3 – Onboarding plan – Once the proposal is accepted, It’s time to get aligned and connected. Your account manager will arrange a kick off call to introduce you to the project team, gather all necessary documents, and select the tools required for project success. 

Step 4 – Most of our projects have an element of strategy to them. This could involve a few interactive workshops, followed by our strategists preparing a detailed project plan. 

Step 5 – The final stage is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time for implementation and our team of experts will get to work delivering the project and realising your goals.

Your team

Led by our Senior designer Keiron, our Design & Communicate pod includes designers and copywriters from our core team, supported by an extended group of specialist vetted freelancers with experience ranging from website development, technical SEO, video production and motion graphics.

Here’s a video of Keiron talking about our in-house team and extended team of specialist freelancers.

Still unsure if we’re the right fit?

We cover a broad range of specialisms, yet there are a few areas where we have certainly earned our stripes.

Regenerative marketing

Combining the marketing tools from Silicon Valley, with regeneration. Taking inspiration from nature itself. We know our stuff when it comes to growing brands and building movements, but our primary focus is to use marketing to heal people and the planet. 

B2B growth marketing 

Build predictable B2B sales and growth strategies for your impact driven organisation. With a strong understanding of buyer behaviour, an obsession about full funnel marketing and a track record in delivering high pressure account based marketing strategies, we’re a trusted partner for some of the world’s leading impact brands.

B2C growth marketing 

Build your B2C brand, grow your community, and achieve MoM growth. Whether you’re an E-commerce brand or provider of SAAS solutions, creating a community of advocates and building virality effects into your product offering are some of the challenges you will face. Get more customers, keep them for longer, and rely less on paid acquisition channels.

Impact branding and communications 

Communicate innovative products, stories and innovations to educate and inspire the market and drive systemic change. Building a brand that is both distinctive and regenerative is tough and the language we choose to communicate the social and environmental challenges we face is more important than ever. We help simplify your message to build trust with your customers.

Sarah Hopley

Crisis Venture Studio

“We asked Zebra Growth to assist us with the design of an important deck, and the team and final product exceeded our expectations. They were professional, friendly and helpful so we really enjoyed working together. We especially appreciated the persistence to understand our complex models to accurately portray these through design. Thanks again!”

Finally, check out our pricing

Get in touch  

And that’s it! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how our “Design & Communicate” pod can help your impact organisation.

We understand the challenges that come with growing a regenerative business. It’s all too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day and lose sight of the bigger picture. 

Our growth diagnosis is a free tool that allows us to identify bottlenecks, share insights to overcome them and signpost you to the most suitable solutions to increase revenue and create a roadmap to maximising impact. 

Book your growth diagnosis

How to start experimenting with growth marketing: An overview of the G.R.O.W.S. process

An image reading How to start experimenting with growth marketing: An overview of the G.R.O.W.S. process

In this article, we’ll introduce you to growth marketing as a driving force for regenerative growth in social impact startups. We’ll look at how the G.R.O.W.S. process can save you precious time and resources, while helping to grow your startup effectively.

We break down what growth marketing is and each step of the G.R.O.W.S. process. We’ll give practical examples at each stage to help you optimise your growth for maximum social impact.

We’ve even included our free Growth Experiment Planning Tool at the end of the article, so you can start running your own experiments.

What we’ll cover

  • What is growth marketing?
  • Traditional marketing VS Growth marketing
  • The 70/30 Experimentation Rule
  • Experimenting with growth marketing
  • How Lean Startup methodology inspired Growth Marketing
  • The G.R.O.W.S. process
  • Getting Started with Growth Marketing

Growth Marketing Experimentation Glossary

Before we dive right into what growth marketing is, let’s get a quick rundown of some key terms that’ll pop up in this article:

  • Experiment – Testing out different marketing techniques, product features & brand messages in a rapid, data-driven manner, to identify which ones are the most effective at driving user growth and impact.
  • Growth Cycle – The lifetime of the G.R.O.W.S. process from start to finish (steps 1-5).
  • Growth Lead – A dedicated team member that makes growth the central focus for everyone in your startup, they are responsible for embedding the process into your team and running experiments.
  • Growth Lever – The immediate improvements and processes you can implement to drive growth for your startup – these are quick wins for your business that have the most impact.
  • Hypothesis – The testable solution to improve your startup’s growth by focusing on improving one key area of your business. 
  • Iterative – The process of running multiple experiments where the results from the previous experiment inform the starting point for the next one.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing is the process of running a series of experiments and implementing processes over a short period of time. It aims at growing your company’s reach and revenue through cost-effective, creative strategies. 

By approaching your marketing strategy as a series of experiments with a quick turnaround, social impact startups can discover the best methods for optimising their growth without being cost and resource intensive. 

And Growth marketing is about approaching your growth with a curious mindset, with the focus on one key area where your business can improve, then testing this assumption in the shortest time possible. 

We’ve touched on it here, but let’s now look at what sets growth marketing apart from traditional methods.

Traditional Marketing VS Growth Marketing

We’ll start here with an offbeat similarity between traditional and growth marketing. They’re both about assumptions. Marketers need to make assumptions about how potential customers will respond to their value proposition and product, that’s kind of the whole idea behind a marketing strategy.

But, the main difference here is what we do with these assumptions. Traditional marketers sometimes run the risk of basing their entire strategy on assumptions they’ve made and put this into a lengthy, expensive campaign. In these cases, they are essentially trying to predict the outcome of a constantly shifting market. 

So is this the best option for a newly formed social startup looking to increase their reach and steadily grow their business?

Of course not. Most startups need to focus on staying afloat, let alone run an expensive campaign that may not yield the results they assumed. The time and energy of such campaigns just isn’t worth the potential growth your business could see.

This is where growth marketing comes in. Like we’ve mentioned, growth marketing is the iterative process of running a series of rapid experiments and measuring their success over a short period of time. 

By doing so, your startup can effectively test your hypothesis and measure outcomes far quicker and adapt to a changing market. And the benefit here for early startups is growth marketing is designed to be fast, efficient and cost effective. 

So by beginning to experiment with growth marketing, social impact startups can have a faster time to market, a higher return on investment and the capacity to scale marketing activity that yields positive results quickly when compared to traditional marketing methods.

We’ve only scratched the surface of growth marketing here but if you’re feeling extra curious, we delve deeper into ethical marketing and social impact in Ethical Growth Marketing 101.

So you’re interested in experimenting with growth marketing? Great! But how do you decide how much time to spend on this and maximise your growth potential?

The 70/30 Experimentation Rule

The main blocker for early startups and novice growth marketers is the thought that running experiments will be too costly and time consuming. Luckily we already know that isn’t the case. 

But you can’t base your entire growth strategy on experimentation alone. That’s why it’s really important to follow the 70/30 rule when it comes to experimentation. 

When planning your growth strategy, you’re aiming to identify the main growth levers you can pull to gain early traction and quick wins for your growth.

70% of your time, resource and budget investment should focus on pulling the 1 or 2 growth levers we’ve identified at the growth strategy stage. 

By doing so, we can focus on driving early traction that creates runaway momentum and motivation for your team.

Spend the remaining 30% on embedding the growth marketing mindset and experimentation process into your startup. 

This is where we begin running rapid experiments across product, brand, sales and marketing to create a roadmap to diversify our growth levers. It’s all about optimising your growth here, as we’re mitigating the risk of our early growth levers reaching saturation point. 

By taking the time to embed the growth marketing process into your startup, you’ll instil an innovation mindset that unlocks the next big growth lever towards and beyond product-market fit. 

Particularly in the early days of a startup, this laser focus is critical in coordinating limited budgets, resources and stakeholders to focus on what matters the most.

Now that we’ve got an idea of how much time we should devote to experimentation, let’s see what that looks like in growth marketing.

Experimenting with Growth Marketing

It might seem daunting but the real success in growth marketing comes from following the process over results. 

When beginning to experiment with growth marketing, it’s important to remember that you’ll be running consecutive experiments over short periods of time. 

So, if your first, second, or even seventh experiment doesn’t yield the results you expect, that’s totally fine – it’s part of the process.

According to Grow with Ward for first time growth marketers (or growth hackers as they put it) having 1 in every 10 experiments succeed is considered a great result. For seasoned growth marketers, this can increase to 1 in 3 experiments

We’ve thrown the word around a few times now, but what is experimenting with growth marketing? 

Let’s say you’ve noticed that the open rate on your newsletter has steadily dropped over the past 3 months. You’ve highlighted the issue and decide to A/B test the next newsletter using a different subject line. 

The following month you find that Subject line B increased your open rate 30%. Using the data collected from the A/B test, you now know how to effectively increase your engagement with your community and reach a wider audience. Congratulations! You’ve just run a successful experiment. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean your newsletter is now perfect, you might then realise you’re losing engagement and subscribers once they’ve clicked through. So it’s back to the drawing board for another hypothesis and experiment. 

This is the essence of growth marketing. You consider one key pain point in your business that you can improve. Then, look at what action you can take in the shortest amount of time, using the least resources and within your team’s capabilities to tackle this issue.

Before we get into the process behind how you actually run growth experiments, it’s important to consider where the idea of growth marketing came from in the first place.

How Lean Startup methodology inspired Growth Marketing

It’s no surprise that growth marketing is a great fit for scaling growth for startups. The base principles are inspired by lean startup methodology, as set out by Eric Reis. The lean startup is the most fundamental framework that has taken over the startup world over the last decade.

The principles of Build, Measure, Learn are the core of lean startup. Taking an iterative approach to your ideas, being open to testing your hypothesis and knowing when to pivot is crucial to your startup’s success.

And it’s now adopted in the marketing world and, more specifically, in growth marketing channels. The method at the centre of growth marketing is the G.R.O.W.S. process.

The G.R.O.W.S. process

Adopted from the GrowthTribe, the G.R.O.W.S. process is the core process that every growth marketer or team needs to adopt, over anything else. Developing from the lean startup model, it’s the blueprint used to efficiently optimise your startup’s growth.

And the process is set out in simple 6 simple steps; 

  1. Gather Ideas 
  2. Rank Ideas
  3. Outline Experiments
  4. Work, Work, Work 
  5. Study Data (see where we get G.R.O.W.S.)
  6. Repeat

Like we’ve mentioned, the important thing isn’t to spend weeks pouring resources into a lengthy campaign. It’s about giving yourself over to the process and continuously coming up with new hypotheses, testing them out and determining what works and what doesn’t. 

Typically, the entire process should last anywhere between 2 weeks and up to 2 months. But we’ll get to that later.

The key here is embedding the G.R.O.W.S. process into everything your startup does. Your priority is following this process of generating fresh ideas, continuously analysing the data and learning from the results. 

In doing so, you’ll gain a far better understanding of how to optimise your strategy for growth, without wasting resources.

So what makes the process so important to social impact startups?

While following this process, it’s essential for growth marketers to have a central metric to optimise for.

We can see here that in the centre of the iterative process, we have social impact. This is particularly important for you Changemakers. Since the ultimate goal of your startup is creating maximum impact in balance with profitability. 

Channelling social impact at the centre of this, then, ensures that your growth is always built around the key purpose of your business and help to push our society towards a regenerative economy. 

Now that we’ve got an overview of the process, let’s look at each step in more detail.

1. Gather Ideas

The first step of the process is to gather ideas. This is where you’ll sit down and consider one specific pain point where you see an opportunity for growth and generate ideas to tackle this. 

We’re really wanting to consider what specific value we’re offering to potential customers or partners, at a specific part of the funnel. Then, we want to look at how we are planning to communicate this to them. 

 It may seem obvious but a pivotal step is to gather your team and allow everyone to give their input in the planning process. 

It’s important here to have a diverse range of opinions in the session. In our 10 Step Masterclass to achieve growth in 2023, our co-founder Moh suggests: 

“The Gathering ideas stage usually consists of a 2 to 3 hour meeting including multiple team members that are cross departmental…you as a Growth Lead have the responsibility to choose the best people who can show a fair representation of your diverse team and mindsets that could feed into growth ideas and hypotheses.”

So It’s useful here to use a collaborative tool for brainstorming. At Zebra, we use Miro Boards as a great way of getting everyone in the team involved. And the added bonus is having all of your ideas collected in a single board that’s accessible for everyone. 

Useful tip: Using a Miro Board is a great way of gathering your ideas. We’d also suggest keeping notes throughout the session and finalising this in a report to make the next step easier!

You don’t want to spend too long gathering ideas. Choice is good, but don’t get bogged down on the small stuff! We’d recommend this step taking 1 – 2 days, including your meeting and follow up report.

2. Rank Ideas

So you’ve found the focus for your experiment and had an insightful brainstorming session with your team and an abundance of great ideas to build your growth?

Fantastic! You’re now ready to take those ideas and rank those ideas.

So how do you know a good idea from a bad one? Just kidding, there’s no bad ideas. But there are ideas that can be easily achieved and have a big impact on your growth. 

To rank ideas, we Zebras recommend using the I.C.E. matrix (Yep, it’s another acronym). The I.C.E. matrix consists of Impact, Confidence and Ease. 

The I.C.E. matrix is a way to weigh the different hypotheses you’ve gathered. You do this by measuring the impact it could have on your growth against a potential ease level and the ‘confidence’ of your team. 

Let’s take a quick look at each of these.

Not to be confused with the social impact you’re trying to achieve, the Impact you’re measuring is on the growth of your business. There’s no use in focusing on something that will bring little results. Remember, we’re optimising for the most efficient growth in the shortest amount of time – think big!

What we mean by Confidence is does your team really believe that this idea will have a strong impact on your growth. Or rather, do you truly have the confidence that this idea will work?

While Ease is where you ask yourself how complex is the idea and if you can achieve (or prove) it within the short timeframe.

When using the I.C.E. matrix, it’s important to remember the 20-80 rule. You want to put in 20% effort to achieve 80% output. We look at this in more detail in our previous article.

You’ll want to have a similar meeting as when gathering ideas and once you’ve settled on the best hypothesis to test, you’re ready for the next step.

3. Outline Experiments

Now that you’ve got a shiny new hypothesis and you’re itching to test it out, we need to outline the experiment. This is another key stage, particularly for the Growth Lead. 

For this stage, you’ll need to clearly outline what the purpose of your experiment is. It’s best to do this in a 1 – 2 page report. The key things to note here are:

  • The purpose of the experiment.
  • What is the timeline of the experiment?
  • What are the outcomes?
  • What is the main metric you’re measuring for validation/non validation?

This stage not only solidifies your idea but it should inform the implementation stage. 

It’s important here to go into detail of what you expect through the experiment and clearly communicate this. This way, every team member involved has an easy understanding of how the experiment will run.

We know we’re laying it on thick here. But, particularly for new growth marketers, having a strong reference point throughout your early (and future) experiments will keep you on the right track and having your experiment running smoothly.

Along with the previous 2 steps, we’d suggest spending no more than 1 week planning. But make sure not to rush through the steps and only proceed to testing your hypothesis once everyone has a clear understanding of your outline.

Just last week we outlined 3 experiments for one of our clients and our Senior Growth Marketer, Patrick, sent a Loom video detailing the outlines to all team members involved in the project. Loom’s another handy tool for growth marketers that ensures your team is aligned even when working across departments at a busy startup.

Now, let’s get to work!

4. Work, Work, Work

This is the step we’ve all been waiting for. It’s now time to run your experiment and test your hypothesis. 

The reason why there’s three works is that it signifies the pace you’ll be working at. This is the lengthiest step but it’s where working fast creates results.

Moh discusses this further at our 10 Step Masterclass to achieve growth in 2023:

“This is where speed matters in growth marketing. It’s about asking yourself how can we execute as fast as possible and gather the minimum amount of data in the shortest time to validate or invalidate our hypothesis…In all the other stages of the process you want to zoom out and take your time. But within step 4, you want to try to execute as fast as possible.”

So having a strong outline for reference, you’re really wanting to put a focus on working quickly to gather the minimum amount of data. 

Of course, we’re not saying you want as little data as possible. Rather, you’re gathering as much data as needed to prove (or disprove) your hypothesis within the time limit of the experiment. 

Depending on the experiment, this step should last between 1 – 3 weeks. For first time growth marketers, you wouldn’t want to take longer than. The important thing when starting out is that you’re embedding the G.R.O.W.S. process into your way of working and learning how to use the process to achieve maximum growth.

It’s also important during this stage to focus on the work, but of course you’ll be wanting to meet regularly to review the progress of the experiment. 

We’d recommend a weekly meeting per experiment you’re running. This ensures all team members involved are aligned and you’re keeping on schedule as set out in your outline from step 3. There’s also the added benefit that you might already be able to find some insights that’ll inform the next step of the process. 

If you want to learn more about how you can achieve your growth goals this year, why not sign-up to our 2-part Masterclass running at the end of February.

5. Study Data

Congratulations, you’ve now run your first experiment! The hard part’s over and it’s time to look at your results. 

Studying data is crucial to growth marketing – how else are you going to validate your experiments?

This is a more straightforward (but pivotal) step. Here, you’ll analyse the data that you’ve measured over the length of the experiment in step 4. What we’re really doing here is finding out if your hypothesis is proven.

Remember – if you find the results invalidate your hypothesis, that’s totally normal! The focus is on studying the data to gather insights and key learnings that will inform your next growth cycle or experiment. 

The important thing here is remaining curious and open to understanding the results. If the results aren’t what you expected – why? What could you do differently? What have you learned about your target segment? Or have you discovered something in your value proposition that isn’t being communicated? 

These questions aren’t exhaustive, of course. They’re just a way to get you to start thinking about how growth marketing uses data to continuously improve how you manage your growth. 

As a Growth Lead, it’s your job to collect these results and share them with your team. Collaboration is key here, again (notice a theme here?). 

For the final week of the cycle, we’d recommend taking time to collate the results and have a retrospective meeting with everyone involved in the experiment. This allows you to consider what worked, reflect on your insights and plan how these results will inform your next cycle.

6. Repeat

We’re sure you know where we’re going with this but it felt rude to leave the final step of the G.R.O.W.S process out. The last step in the growth cycle is to do it all over again. 

Of course, you’re not just starting from scratch, you’re now armed with solid data from the previous cycle and have a clearer understanding of the next logical steps for future experiments.

For the entire cycle (steps 1 – 5) of the G.R.O.W.S. process, the total time spent is really dependent on the size of your team and the maturity of you adopting growth marketing. Usually, this spans from between 1 – 2 months per cycle period. 

And you can, of course, run multiple experiments at the same time. But for first time growth marketers, we’d highly recommend beginning with just 1 experiment at a time. 

This will really help embed the process into your startup, whilst shifting the mindset of your team. And, in time, this will allow for greater results.

Growth Marketing & the G.R.O.W.S. Process Recap

So let’s do a quick recap of what we’ve discussed in this article:

  • Growth Marketing is the process of running a series of experiments and implementing processes over a short period of time
  • Growth marketing can offer a faster time to market, a higher ROI and isn’t as cost or resource intensive as traditional marketing
  • You want to focus 70% of your time resource & budget on pulling the growth levers that gain traction for your startup and 30% embedding the growth marketing mindset and experimenting
  • Lean Startup methodology of Build, Measure, Learn inspired growth marketing
  • Growth marketers use the G.R.O.W.S. process to optimise their growth
  • The 6 steps to the G.R.O.W.S. process are Gather Ideas, Rank Ideas, Outline Experiments, Work x3, Study data
  • A full cycle of the process should last between 1 – 2 months
  • First time growth marketers should run 1 experiment at a time
  • Proving 1 in every 10 experiments when starting out is a success
  • Focus on one key area to improve, don’t just look for maximum results
  • Collaboration is key to the success of experiments and including teams from across departments generate better hypothesis
  • Embedding the process into your startup and adopting a curious mindset will allow you to optimise your growth towards maximum social impact

Getting Started with Growth Marketing

Now that you’re clear on what growth marketing is and we’ve talked you through the G.R.O.W.S. process, let’s see how you can get started. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo impact founder or a growing team of Changemakers. You can start experimenting with growth marketing right away! 

Of course, the first step is to introduce the idea of growth marketing to your team and familiarise them with the concept (this article should come in handy!). 

If you’re wanting to expand your own understanding, we’d recommend doing some further research and Grow with Ward gives some great insights into the subject.

Then, it’s important to appoint your Growth Lead, if you don’t already have one. They are responsible for running the experiments, leading ideation sessions and ensuring your team is aligned throughout the projects. Plus they’ll keep track of your progress and results. 

When your team is inspired and ready to get experimenting, we recommend making sure you have the right tools for the job. We’ve already mentioned some of our favourites for the different steps of the process. 

We know that getting started is the most daunting part of the process. That’s why we’ve also created our free Growth Experiment Planning Tool

This includes everything you need to start mapping out your own experiments. You’ll receive:

  • Hypothesis Planner and ICE Scoring Template
  • Experiment Tracker Template
  • Ideation Miro Board Template

And that’s it! You’re now ready to start optimising your growth for maximum social impact with growth marketing.

Ready to experiment with growth marketing but don’t know where to start? We’d love to collaborate! Get in touch to discuss your startup’s growth today.

B-Excited: How can your business become a B Corp?

B-Excited: How can your business become B Corp?

Taking you through the process now that Zebra Growth is B Corp certified

Ever wondered how a business becomes a B Corp? In this article we’ll cover:

  • Zebra Growth’s B Corp Status and what it means to us
  •  What is a B Corp?
  • How are B Corp businesses changing the way we think of business?
  • How can you become a B Corp?
  • The process of becoming a B Corp
  • BIA: The free tool tool for assessing your impact
  • Our 10 favourite B Corp certified businesses

Are you a social impact startup or scaleup and looking to enhance your commitments to social progress? Maybe you’re just genuinely curious about all these companies that suddenly have a shiny B graphic slapped on their website. 

Either way, your curiosity has put you in search of what a B Corp is and now you’ve found yourself asking: how does a business become a B Corp?

In that case, we’ve got you covered. Before we answer all those burning questions, we’ve got a small announcement of our own (3 guesses what it is).

Image confirming this business is B Corp Certified

Gather the herd: Zebra Growth has an Announcement

At Zebra Growth, we’re all about championing the changemakers who want to bring balance to the business world. Our focus is to educate and co-create with social impact startups and scaleups, so that we can achieve a regenerative economy. 

And we’re at our best when we’re working with the social pioneers who are making a real positive impact on humanity and the planet. But as a growing startup ourselves, it’s important to acknowledge our own progress.
That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to announce we are now a certified B Corporation!

What does the B Corp certification mean to us?

It’s a huge honour for us to achieve B Corp status. We are humbled to be counted among the many other businesses that are leading a global movement for an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economy. 

And since zebras love to travel in herds, it’s no surprise that we believe in the power of community. We can’t wait to see what new connections and collaborations will come from our B Corp certification. 

A huge shout out to our team here at Zebra for helping us get to this point, and by truly living by the values of what it means to be a B Corp certified company.  

Of course, this is just a small step to shifting our collective mindset towards a regenerative economy. We’re just one of thousands of changemakers who want to use business as a force for good. It’s going to take time, collaboration and resilience but we’re excited to be part of the change.

With that out the way, let’s dive into what a B Corp is and find out how it could be the next step for your business.

What is a B Corp?

Before we jump straight into what a B Corp certified business is, we should start with who does the certifying –  B Lab.
B Lab is a non profit network that focuses on changing the global economy for the better of people and planet. Their mission is to change businesses into a force for good. In their own words, “B Lab creates standards, policies, tools, and programs that shift the behaviour, culture, and structural underpinnings of capitalism.”

So where do B Corps come into play?

Certified B Corps are companies verified by B Lab that meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. 
This isn’t to say these companies are perfect, but rather they have clear processes in place for creating positive impact, safeguarding employees and customers while ensuring they balance profitability with purpose.

Image showing text: One small part of a community of changemakers, driving towards a regenerative economy.

B Corp status isn’t the B-all and end-all

So you’re a social impact startup or scaleup and you’re focused on making a change to the business world? That’s amazing! Now, you’re looking for the next step to commit to social progress – what better way than to become a B Corp?

Don’t get us wrong, becoming a B Corp isn’t the answer to all the world’s (or your business’s) problems. But the end goal here isn’t to become B Corp certified (which might sound weird since you’re going for a B Corp certification). 

Rather, it’s about taking the time to delve deep into your business and its practices. By truly understanding how your business operates, the impact you have and what changes need to be made, you’ll create a more positive impact for all stakeholders and across your business. 

And by doing so, you’re using your business as a force for good. Then, you can make a real commitment to these practices and solidify this with your B Corp certification. 

Like we said, becoming a B corp isn’t the end game. It’s a step towards challenging the degenerative ‘business as usual’ model and balancing profit with purpose. And we do this by being one small part of a community of changemakers, driving towards a regenerative economy. 
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how your regenerative business can take the steps to become a B Corp.

The process of becoming a B Corp

Becoming a B Corp takes time. Like a proper long time. Be prepared to spend a lot of time researching and revising, then re-revising your processes and implementing changes. For us Zebras, the total process took 18 months. 

But don’t get us wrong – that’s the whole point. As we’ve mentioned, you’re taking an in-depth look at how your business operates and finding areas to improve. 

And the payoff is worth it. The real value of becoming a B Corp certified company is by going through the process and discovering how your business can be better and then making those changes.
Whether you’re whisked straight to certification (it’s not likely but who knows!) or you miss the mark, there will always be something within your business practices that can be improved, and that’s kinda the whole idea behind the B Corp certification.

So what’s the steps to becoming a B Corp?

B Lab has plenty of resources to help you on your way to receiving certification. And the actual steps to become a B Corp are pretty straightforward, if lengthy;

Confirm you can certify

If you have at least 12 months of operations and are a for profit business in a competitive market, good news! You can apply for B Corp certification.

B Impact Assessment (BIA)

B Lab offers a free, confidential online tool to help you assess your business – The B Impact Assessment (BIA). Here you will assess all the areas of your business in great detail (we’ll even cover it in greater detail, below) and once completed, B Lab will give your business its impact score once completed.

Image showing text: Over 6000 B Corp businesses, 1 unifying goal.

Improving your Score

The next step is to look at improving your score, and you’ll need to spend a lot of time reassessing where you can improve your business practices.

To achieve B Corp status, businesses need an impact score of at least 80 to certify as a B Corp and this is rare the first time round.  B Lab offers useful tools within the assessment to help highlight pain points and help with prioritising tasks.

Remember: Improving your score means improving your business practices, that’s why the process is so important. Focus on improving how you operate and not just fixing things to achieve a better score.

Meet the Legal Requirement

Once you’ve improved your impact score to reach 80+, you’ll need to make amendments to your governing documents. 
The certification requires you to adopt specific wording to your Articles of Association. Reinforcing your commitments to consider the impact of all business decisions for all stakeholders in your  business. (yet another incentive to push progress!)

Submit & Review

Hooray! Now you’re ready to submit. You’ll need to fill in B Lab’s disclosure questionnaire and submit your completed assessment. This will be reviewed by their independent standards team. 

Take the time here to keep working on improving your score and engage with B Lab to provide further evidence of the answer you’ve given in your assessment. This includes giving evidence to back up your answers from your own internal data over the last 12 months.

After Certification

Congrats! You’re now a shiny new B Corp, all that hard work paid off. You now need to sign the B Corp agreement and pay your annual fee. 

Of course it’s time to share the news and celebrate but remember that this is a small step towards a greater goal. Being a B Corp isn’t about being the first, or best single business but being a part of a community that is committed to using business to improve society.  

And, as we’ve mentioned, the work doesn’t stop here. You’ll need to recertify every 3 years and continue to achieve an impact score of at least 80. Which is a great way to keep us on our toes and consistently work at improving our impact.
Now we’ve got the process covered, let’s look at the BIA in more detail.

Assessing your Impact with BIA

The BIA is a rigorous tool that takes you through around 200 questions that assess your business. Providing you insight into how purpose driven your business operations are.

So what areas does the assessment cover?


From your code of ethics to mission & engagement, you’ll be assessed on the internal policies and practices of your business.


Are your employees satisfied in their role? How are you safeguarding their health and well-being? These are just some of the areas to consider when assessing how your business supports employees.


Regardless of the industry, your business will have an impact on the environment. Here you will assess what processes you have in place to ensure you’re being mindful of the planet and its resources.


Community covers a wide range of topics, like engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion. Here it’s about looking at how your business positively engages with external stakeholders.


We can’t have a business without customers, but do we have processes in place to receive customer feedback and handle complaints? How are we measuring customer satisfaction and putting their well-being as a priority? Understanding your relationship with your customers is key to creating a positive impact.

The next steps

Now that you’ve scrutinised every aspect of your business, completed the questions and provided your evidence to B Lab, you can submit your assessment and you’ll be given your impact score. 

Out of a possible score of 250+, businesses need to achieve a score of at least 80 to become B Corp certified. For reference, the median score for ordinary businesses who complete the B Corp assessment is 50.9. Here at Zebra, we were thrilled to receive an impact  score of 90.

Of course, achieving a lower score isn’t a bad thing either – making the effort  to take the test alone is a sign businesses are on the right track! 

Regardless of the score, every B Corp certified business will have areas to improve, and the point of the certification is to keep businesses focused operating with purpose for the good of all stakeholders.

Like we said, it’s about using business as a force for good.

Now that we know how it’s done, let’s take a look at some of the amazing B Corps who are changing the way we see business.

Image showing text: Business as a force for good.

Our 10 B Corps to B inspired by:

Bosquia – Promoting reforestation for companies and individuals

Brewgooder – Turning beer into water (not literally)

allplants – Helping transform the planet through sustainable vegan food subscriptions

The Body Shop – Making an impact on the beauty industry with ethically sourced and naturally-based ingredients

The Cheeky Panda – Keeping the luxury in household goods without compromising humanity or the planet

Better World Books – Spreading knowledge and driving sustainability

Anne Mulaire – Returning to Nature with Slow Fashion

Mana Earthly Paradise – Redefining sustainability in tourism

Sinba – Helping companies and individuals co-create a world without trash

Lily’s Kitchen – Making a positive impact with pet food

It’s so inspiring to see the progress they’re making and we’re honoured to be a part of their community.

The B-ginning (too much?) of a new chapter as a B Corp

Image showing text: Being B Corp Certified is a reminder we're on the right path, but there's still work to be done.

Receiving our B Corp certification is the culmination of a lot of time, energy and hard work from all of our team at Zebra. It’s been incredibly humbling to find a team where every individual truly understands what we’re working towards, embracing our values and vision of a regenerative economy. 

Being B Corp certified is a reminder we’re on the right path, but there’s still work to be done. As our Managing Director Lee says, it’s time for us Zebras to walk the walk.

And moving into 2023, our main focus is to become a more regenerative business. This will help us achieve our vision of a new, regenerative economy. An economy that is run by ethically driven entrepreneurs who seek to balance profitable growth with creating positive societal impact.

Not to mention the opportunities this certification gives us. It’s a chance to build on the already amazing community of changemakers around us. We’re excited to engage with a diverse group of social pioneers and come together to share ideas and co-create for the benefit of people, planet and profit.

Having this B Corp certification now allows us to lean into the commitments we have made, as well as make the improvements we need to accelerate our transition into a fully regenerative business. 

Finally, we want to thank all of the inspiring changemakers we have worked with this past year. Your collaborations, challenges and insights have helped us to grow and allowed us to learn what it truly takes to change the business world.

And we can’t wait to get started. We’re excited to be a part of the change and look forward  to  seeing the positive impact that this community will make in 2023.

P.S. We were thrilled to host the Director of B Corp Portugal, Luis Amado at our Lunch & Learn this week. He really put into perspective what it means to be a B Corp and the impact businesses can have when working as a community.

Image showing a google meets picture of the Zebra team and Luis Amado, Director of B Corp Portugal.

Want to hear more?

Are you looking to build regenerative growth? We’d love to collaborate with you!

Why not book a call with Lee, our Managing Director to see how your startup can create the most impact in 2023.

Stack ‘em up: Why a well-executed tech stack is vital for Regenerative Startups

In this article, we’ll look at how a well-executed marketing tech stack can help your business achieve regenerative growth and give you our favourite tools for Regenerative Startups to grow their business.

Why is a marketing tech stack vital to Regenerative Startups?

In this article, we’ll look at how a well-executed marketing tech stack can help your business achieve regenerative growth.

What we’ll cover;

  • What is a marketing tech stack?
  • Tech stacks: A Growth Hacking Fundamental
  • Prioritising your tech stack to optimise growth
  • How can a marketing tech stack help grow your business?
  • Our favourite tools for Regenerative Startups

Positive social impact is key to challenging the problems we face today and regenerative startups are at the forefront of creating real change. And the impacts of climate change, the pandemic, Brexit and the war in Ukraine have all highlighted the need for mindful, efficient growth.

From our experience with the sector we believe that, for regenerative startups, understanding and utilising the correct tools to grow their business is vital to creating the most positive impact, bringing us one step closer to a regenerative economy.

Don’t worry, we aren’t keeping all the cards to ourselves. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite tools at the end of this article, so you’re ready to start optimising your growth.

What is a marketing tech stack?

A marketing tech stack is the collection of tools, software and technologies that marketers use to optimise and augment their marketing processes. The aim here is to drive growth as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Marketing technologies are ‘stacked’ to create an integrated series of tools that allow you to build and connect processes. Marketers and businesses use tech to optimise their marketing activities, but in order to take an agile and dynamic approach, it’s necessary to consider how you can integrate tools and tech rather than using them independently. 

Layering tools and technologies in this way allows for specific automations, giving businesses a much clearer understanding of how to  reach and engage with their customers. It’s this layering of technologies that  led to the term ‘marketing tech stack’.

Tech stacks: A Growth Hacking Fundamental

The tech stack sits at the very heart of Growth Hacking which is a proven and agile  methodology that we use here at Zebra Growth. But growth hacking is much more than just a methodology. It’s a mindset.

Growth hacking has changed the way in which we approach marketing. It challenges the traditional marketing model. 

Traditional marketing generally involves committing a large budget to advertising, email campaigns and other paid media. Growth hackers don’t tend to operate endless budgets so their focus is on how they can ‘move the needle’ the most with the leanest of resources. 

This is where a well-executed tech stack comes in; its one key purpose is to make sure you get the right message, to the right audience in as cost effective and efficient way possible.

There were around 8000 marketing solutions in 2020 compared to 150 in 2010

Growth hacking is an imperative methodology for regenerative startups. We know from experience that a fast growing startup is filled with shifting priorities and many tasks can fall by the wayside, things like marketing strategies and tactics just aren’t seen as a priority. 

In some cases the cost of running intensive marketing campaigns isn’t worth it as it’s labour intensive and it may take months or years to achieve growth. 

By employing a growth hacking mindset, an experimental approach with a carefully constructed tech stack, regenerative startups really can achieve channel/market fit much earlier than if they were to put all of their budget into siloed channels and traditional marketing strategies. 

With that in mind, how do you decide what tools to integrate into your stack?

Not all Tech is created equal

In 2020, it was estimated there were around 8000 solutions in the marketing landscape, compared to just 150 in 2010. So it’s safe to say that building your perfect tech stack takes time and consideration.

And there isn’t a one-fits-all approach to tech stacks. The key to a successful tech stack is having the right tools for your business, market sector and your team’s needs. With so many options available, it’s about finding what is right for you. 

When integrating a new tool (remember: you’re introducing tech to build on what you have, not replace it) you need to consider how accessible it is for your team. If a system sounds great on paper but is causing communication issues everyday, or doesn’t meet your team’s skillset, it’s probably not for you.

A marketing tech stack is there to make your job easier and put your team in the best position to maximise your growth. So before you decide to start bringing in complex tech, it’s important to have solid foundations to build upon.

Integration is your North Star with Tech Stacks

Laying the foundations: The importance of prioritising your tech stack

We’re not suggesting that you drop all your current tools and strategies and spend your full year’s budget on the latest tech.

Quite the opposite. 

The truth is, evaluating your current marketing activities and setting solid foundations will make the biggest difference in your growth in the long run. 

We know that building a tech stack can quickly become a daunting task, that’s why we’ve laid out the groundwork to get your growth on the right track. We like to think of the marketing tech stack hierarchy as a pyramid, and it’s a simple one at that. 

Hierarchy pyramid of tech stack tools - foundational tools and complex optimisation tools

On the base you have the foundational layer of tools that, if you get right, can make the biggest difference for growth in your business. The second and top layer of the pyramid is the complex tools that help you gather data, insights and analytics or allow for automation of your processes.

So, what is the foundational layer of tools when building your tech stack? At Zebra, we’ve found the most important things to get right first for maximum growth are Internal communication, Project management and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems.

Internal Communications

How does a new team member get up to speed on your latest projects? Where can they find information about your company culture and values? How do you communicate relevant news and updates across departments? 

The most effective way to do this is with a Company Wiki. This is a collaborative tool for storing and sharing internal information. It aims to be the single source of truth for everyone on your team. Each member can access internal information for reference, collaboration and to update as needed. 

At Zebra, our single source of truth is Notion. Notion gives every team member access to our processes, client information, our culture and values. Having a company wiki allows team members, new and old, to access all relevant files and information on projects, your business and ongoing strategies.

The benefit here is that nothing is lost in translation; by making all your important information easily accessible and giving every team member the chance to share their knowledge, you’ll improve communication across your business.

Project Management

While it’s important to have all your relevant project information on a company wiki, having a dedicated tool for Project Management is a necessity.

Whether you’re working across multiple teams or to a strict deadline, having a solid project management tool will allow you to coordinate effectively with your team and ensure you complete your project efficiently.

We use for our Project Management. allows you to create boards for your projects and seamlessly track its progress, set the owner of tasks and the level of priorities and allows you to post updates on the project, tasks and subtasks all within one system.

Another key benefit of is that it allows for integration with other tools. We’ve linked ours to Slack (our internal communications app) so that our team is always in the loop. And this is a great example of what a tech stack should do – integrate with your other tools to optimise your processes.

CRM Systems

Taking the time to consider how you store customer data is crucial to any business. It’s one thing to keep a note of prospects and potential leads – but how do you effectively prioritise your workload and make sure valuable information isn’t lost, all while ensuring all the relevant teams and departments are clued in?

The solution, as you might’ve guessed, is with a CRM system. A CRM system helps your business keep customer details up to date, tracks your interactions with them and manage their accounts.

With regenerative startups, the adoption curve can be slow. Sales cycles can be long, and, in some cases, average order value high. All of these friction points can make it difficult for the sales team to maintain growth and strengthen the sales pipeline.

CRM Systems like Salesforce offer a solution to this. They integrate into one system that gives all departments (like sales, marketing, commerce and service) a single shared view of every customer. This is essential to building a cohesive business and allows you to improve your customer experience.

Having a really robust CRM, and a clear view of who is engaging with your business and what stage they are at in your sales funnel is a critical factor in the success of innovative regenerative startups.

And CRM tools, when properly set up by professionals, will allow for advanced tracking such as engagement scoring, which allows field representatives to be notified when a prospect engages with a piece of content, providing triggers to begin outreach. This allows your team to make the best decisions for growing your business.

Optimising your Tech Stack

Once you have evaluated your current systems and worked to integrate these foundations, you can start to target some of the more complex tools to nurture growth; 

  • Research Tools
  • Business Intelligence
  • Analytics
  • Reporting
  • Data Management
  • Email & Marketing Automation
  • Design System Tools
  • Advertising & Paid Media
  • Social Media Management

It’s important to research different options and find the tool that works best for you. If you’re unsure of which one works best for your business, seek advice. 

Zebra Growth has extensive experience working with these systems ourselves and helping to integrate them for our clients. We’d be love to collaborate with you and find the best tech stack for creating regenerative growth for your business.

How can a marketing tech stack help to grow your business?

As we’ve mentioned, a tech stack is a collection of tools, so they’re only useful when they’re fit for the right purpose. Tech stacks aren’t a marketing strategy, they form part of one. A tech stack is only effective with a clearly defined marketing strategy.

So it’s important to clearly define what you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. Start by looking at your current marketing activities. 

The key here is evaluating how you are currently communicating against how you want to grow your business going forward. Looking at your current tech and IT infrastructure, consider what is working well and what can be improved. This is where building your tech stack comes in.  

A representation of all the key categories of a marketing tech stack

The stacks above encapsulate all the main categories that go into a marketing tech stack. Of course, we only want to focus on the tools that will benefit your marketing strategy

Do you want to reach a specific segment through social media? If so, consider what you need to execute your campaign and how you’ll measure the results. Tools like Buffer can help to grow your audience organically. 

Are you trying to increase your organic traffic to your website and rank higher on search engines? Then maybe you want to consider SEO software, like Semrush, to discover how your content can be more accessible to your customers.

The main idea here is to hone your strategy and find the right tools to integrate into your processes that will help you achieve regenerative growth. 

As you grow, maintaining a solid tech stack will allow your business to maintain strong communications with your customers and across teams.

Let’s talk tech – our recommended tools for your marketing tech stack

As promised, here is a list of our top tools for each category for building the best Regenerative Startup Marketing Tech Stack. 

Remember to take your time going through these tools and consider what’s best for your business, team and marketing strategy!

Research tools

Google Trends Google Trends is a useful search trends feature that shows frequency of keyword search and and to discover event-triggered spikes in keyword search volume
HotjarHotjar is a product experience insights tool that gives you behaviour analytics and feedback data to help you empathise with and understand your customers
BrandwatchUnderstand and engage with your customers at the speed of social with Brandwatch, the social suite built for our fast-moving world.
TypeformForms that perform: get feedback and leads with ease Using stylish forms that make data collection a walk in the park

Business Intelligence

CanddiTurns your website visitors into customers. Find out who is visiting your website, and which of them are ready to buy
Dun and Bradstreet Business insights on over 40 million companies to manage risk and increase supply chain resiliency

Analytics tools

Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purpose
OribiStunning AI to automatically track all your key conversions, discover what actions sites like yours should focus on, and increase results

Reporting Tools

Dash this An automated marketing reporting tool created to help marketers save hours of work and create their reports in the blink of an eye.

Data management

Google Data StudioGoogle Data Studio (GDS) is a great, free data visualisation tool (note my use of the phrase data visualisation tool, as opposed to business intelligence tool here) that lets you build interactive dashboards, and customised, beautiful reporting.
Supermetrics Picks up all the marketing data you need and brings it to your go-to reporting, analytics, or storage platform — whether that’s a BI tool, a spreadsheet, a data visualisation tool, a data lake, or a data warehouse.

Project Management offers 5 end-to-end products to choose from to run the core of your business. Our products are dedicated solutions built on top of our Work OS and designed to answer the needs of specific industries and verticals
ClickupAll of your work in one place.  Tasks, chat, docs, goals and more – Plan, track, and manage any type of work with project management that flexes to your team’s needs.

Company Wiki

NotionYour single source of truth for documentation,  access to all the information relevant to a project including links, files and strategies. 

Email marketing and automation

MailChimpMarketing and sales tool – No matter the size of your business, these tools are here to help you launch, build, and grow.

SEO, content and referral tools

SEM RushAn all in one SEO swiss army knife helping you to grow organic traffic with a complete and easy bank of search tools and workflow
MOZSearch engine optimization at its best!

Design System tools

MiroVisual collaboration tool that takes physical ideation, brainstorming and workshop sessions and marketing strategy and gathers insights into powerful visual boards
FigmaOnline design tool with features that make feedback, and collaboration super easy, resulting in better cross functional working with designers, and faster turnaround times.

Advertising and paid media

Meta AdsMeta Ads Manager is the control room for all advertisements across all Meta platforms. It’s a tool used by top marketers to create, manage, change, and analyse all aspects of their digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram
Linkedin AdsAn ad platform has ad types to meet all your marketing objectives with a reach of over 750 million professionals on the world’s largest professional network.

Landing Page and CMS

UnbounceCapture way more leads with high-converting landing pages that you can optimise on the fly, all without a developer.
ClickfunnelsGenerate New LEADS That You Can Connect With… Create simple funnels that quickly capture your visitors’ contact information, so you can generate new leads to follow-up 

CRM systems

HubspotHubSpot’s CRM platform has all the tools and integrations you need for marketing, sales, content management, and customer service. Each product in the platform is powerful alone, but the real magic happens when you use them together.
SalesforceSalesforce is a customer relationship management solution that brings companies and customers together. It’s one integrated CRM platform that gives all your departments — including marketing, sales, commerce, and service — a single, shared view of every customer.

Social Media management

HootsuiteTool for planning out social media posts and it’s great if you run multiple social media accounts for your business. is the built-in URL shortener of Loomly, your simple social media calendar tool!
BufferBuffer helps you build an audience organically. We’re a values-driven company that provides affordable, intuitive, marketing tools for ambitious people and teams.

Ready to build your stack?

Before we send you off to build the most well-executed tech stack startups have ever seen, we want to leave you with some of our top tips when building your tech stack:

  • It’s a complex task – be prepared! – huge amount of tools and tech are available
  • Keep it simple – the more tools and integration, the more complex your tech stack becomes
  • Choose tools that align with your strategy, budget, your team’s capabilities
  • Research all the options – don’t rush to buy until you have the full picture 
  • Triage existing tools and IT infrastructure to inform integration of new technologies
  • Tools need to contain features that can allow marketers to personalise content
  • Consider your team set up – tools need to support efficient working practices for onsite teams and remote workers
  • Don’t be tempted into reinventing the wheel – choose a solution that will help you reach your goals without too much effort
  • Thinks integration – not all tech works seamlessly
  • Be prepared to iterate – technology changes frequently! 
  • Consider your team’s capability and skill set when choosing tech 

And most importantly, if you are not sure how to build the right tech stack, seek advice.

Is your marketing strategy not creating the growth you expect? Why not book a call with our Managing Director, Lee for some insights into how you can find the right tech stack for your business.

It’s Time to Grow-up: Is Vertical Farming the Future of Agri-Tech?

What can we learn about Vertical Farming’s Impact?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the growing practice of vertical farming and highlight a few of the changemakers who are making their mark on the agri-tech sector. 

With key insights into growing interest from investors, innovations that are shaping the industry and walking the tightrope of regenerative growth and emissions, we’ll see how Impact Founders can drive change and offer solutions to the climate crisis.

It’s Time for Change

As global leaders held discussions on the climate crisis at COP 27, the world population quietly grew to 8 billion people, as announced on Tuesday. Despite the promise of steps towards Net-zero and deals for green energy, the climate crisis is continuing to have a devastating impact on our people and planet.  

With 10% of the people on our planet living in hunger, it’s impossible to ignore that food insecurity is fast becoming a major impact of climate change. Not to mention the escalating effects caused by supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, Brexit, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the cost of living crisis. 

We know that yearly discussions and promises alone won’t bring real change, we need to shift our focus to regenerative growth and that’s why we at Zebra Growth support the innovative changemakers that create the most impact.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem. While we sit and stare at the news waiting for the next anxiety-inducing report on energy prices, pioneers in agri-tech are facing the threat of food insecurity head on using Vertical Farming techniques.

But with critics arguing that emissions are too high compared to traditional agriculture and rising energy costs, is vertical farming the future of agri-tech? Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the sector and some of the changemakers hoping to answer that question.

Let’s get Vertical

Vertical Farming (VF) is the agricultural process of growing crops in vertically stacked layers, maximising land space and potential crop yield. What makes the practice so fascinating (not to mention groundbreaking) is that the crops are grown indoors with no soil or sunlight. 

Techniques such as hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics are used to grow crops indoors using the method of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). CEA allows every step of the growing process to be controlled for each specific crop, from humidity, light, temperature and even CO2. 

Utilising a CEA indoors means vertical farms don’t need to rely on pesticide as the plants are grown in clean, monitored conditions, allowing farmers to grow nutrient-rich produce all while helping to restore the land typically used for agriculture. 

We’ve seen this for ourselves through our collaboration with IGS. IGS is an agri-tech innovator, revolutionising the sector with Growth Towers. Their system uses TCEA (Total Controlled Environment Agriculture) which removes all external variables to create a predictable and repeatable growing environment. This not only optimises yield but limits wastage. Their  groundbreaking work signals a much needed shift towards more regenerative practices!

Vertical farms can yield up to 10 times the yield of open-field farming of the same land area. Without the dependance on sunlight and unencumbered by harsh weather conditions, vertical farms can grow year round and still produce high-quality produce around the world. 

The practice is typically used to grow leafy greens, herbs and soft fruits, given their small size and large profit margins. Critics of vertical farming often cite this as a key reason that vertical farming can’t tackle food insecurity as vital crops such as wheat cannot be grown indoors given its size.

So vertical farming is an interesting project but it won’t yield true results?

This is simply not the case. Agri-tech innovators are already a step ahead of critics, as Amsterdam-based startup Infarm have successfully grown wheat indoors without soil or pesticides. The world’s first indoor staple crop is projected to have an annual yield of 117 tons a hectare, by comparison the average yield for the EU in 2022 was 5.6 tons a hectare. That’s one way to silence the naysayers!

Through vertical farming, Infarm was able to have 6 growth cycles in a year, compared to a single growth cycle with traditional farming methods – isn’t that incredible? 

While scaling such an operation will have its own set backs, Infarm believes that with the right innovations and improved technology, they will be able to increase their yield by 50% in the years to come. 

With hundreds of startups led by innovative changemakers working towards revolutionising the agricultural sector, it’s hard not to see the potential for vertical farming. 

Of course, a key benefit of vertical farming is allowing the land and resources used in traditional agriculture to replenish, giving us the opportunity to shift towards a regenerative form of open-field farming. At Zebra Growth, collaboration is at the heart of everything we do and the only way we can truly look to solve food insecurity is utilising technology, so we can complement traditional methods, not compete with them.

We are closely following new developments in the sector over the coming months and years and we are hopeful that innovation and tradition can drive progress. With developments across agri-tech enhancing the practice of open-field farming (such as the use of drones to detect disease in crops and limit wastage) we have no doubt that innovation and tradition will find a way to collaborate towards a better future.

But let’s imagine the potential that growing staple crops indoors gives us. Countries affected by drought, extreme climates, or where wheat has never grown in the past could become self-sufficient and thrive with direct access to staple crops. 

Our vision of a regenerative economy could be realised through these kinds of innovations in vertical farming working in tandem with open-field farming, and we want to do everything we can to make that our reality.

And the progress isn’t going unnoticed

Climate Smart Agriculture (such as vertical farming) was the number 2 in the top 10 Climate Tech Trends and Innovations for 2022. More and more investors are seeing the real world value of vertical farming. With the global market value of vertical farming expected to surpass $20.9 billion (USD) by 2029, it’s no wonder that investors are looking to VF startups to drive change. 

From cutting transport costs, mitigating supply chain issues, food waste and bringing nutrient-packed produce to urban areas, vertical farming is a vital investment for VCs looking to give their funding to sectors that promise regenerative growth with real impact and tackle climate change. 
From our own work with clients in the sector, including IGS (who raised £42 million in Series B funding) we’ve seen the excitement growing amongst investors for innovative and regenerative startups – it’s an exciting time for climate tech  changemakers!

That’s not all…

Early in 2022, London-based startup Vertical Future raised £21 million, in Europe’s largest ever Series A funding in the industry. What’s clear to us – and clearly investors – is the brand’s clear purpose and reach. We can’t ignore how exciting this is for agri-tech startups, vertical farming is starting to turn heads.

Vertical Future looks to empower their customers to grow produce sustainably and closer to the point of consumption, satisfying the significant need to reduce transport emissions and provide the freshest produce. This startup proves not only the importance of innovation in vertical farming but rather that VC’s are hungry for fresh and revolutionary solutions to food insecurity. 

Vertical Future not only grows food but 40% of their plants are produced for pharmaceutical purposes, adding yet another game changing potential for vertical farming. With the funding secured, they’ll now focus on scaling their operations across the globe.

Now that’s exciting.

In fact, in the UK there is growing demand for agri-tech startups. Just recently, a partnership was launched in Gloucestershire to promote growth and innovation in the sector. The partnership between food science and technology consultancy, Campden BRI; Hartpury University and College’s Agriculture Agri-tech Centre and Tech Box Park, the Royal Agricultural University’s Farm 491 and the University of Gloucestershire’s Countryside & Community Research Group (CCRI), aims to bring innovators and startups from around the globe to the county to share expertise and grow the already £1.5 billion valued sector. 

Gloucestershire has the highest concentration of fast growing agri-tech SMEs and a hyperfocus on agricultural education – we can’t wait to see where their innovations take us next! 

We, at Zebra Growth firmly believe that working collaboratively to support the vision of agri-tech startups is an essential step towards building a fairer, regenerative economy.  We all need to act now if we are to  protect our planet’s resources, and it’s great to see that local authorities are starting to notice this too!
And, thought leaders are starting to recognise the benefits of funding R&D in agri-tech as a means of limiting the supply chain issues that have disrupted food distribution these past few years.

Growing-up isn’t always easy

So, while vertical farming boasts a higher crop yield and has the potential to bring nutrient-rich food to urban areas, it’s not without its setbacks – what developing technology isn’t?

A recent article published in Nature Food looked at sustainability within vertical farming among other food system technologies. The Scandinavian team found that vertical farming had a ‘mixed sustainability’ as its greenhouse gas emissions were higher than that of conventional farming. 

What we found especially interesting (not to mention reassuring for our climate conscious changemakers) is that the report focuses on the energy used to run the farms and openly admits that the literature studied had a distinct lack of focus on the socio-economic sustainability of the practice – considering two of the three pillars of sustainability is people & profit, it’s a wonder why these key benefits of vertical farming aren’t considered in assessing its sustainability.

The report notes its own shortcomings, of course, and discusses vertical farming’s ability to reduce CO2 emissions through cutting down on transport as a theoretical practice, and we’ve already seen that vertical farms are being brought to urban areas. 

Vertical farming is not only limiting transport emissions but reducing food waste, all while bringing fresher, healthier food to people –  we’d say that’s pretty sustainable!

And let’s not forget about the regenerative benefits of closed-loop vertical farming. Compared to traditional agriculture, there is no chemical-filled water that has the potential to pollute the environment, and conversely the crops aren’t affected by contaminated water.

We’ve seen this first hand with our client  IGS’s TCEA, their fully automated water and nutrient dosing system ensures that the only water that leaves the farm is in the crop itself – this will do wonders in a future where water scarcity is fast becoming a genuine concern. 

The closed-loop process allows vertical farming to reach climates – and people – that would never have the ability to grow coveted crops.

A perfect example of vertical farming’s versatility is VeggiTech’s work in the United Arab Emirates.  In the Sharjah desert, the startup has cultivated 150,000 crocus sativa bulbs to grow saffron. Despite the turbulent climate, through vertical farming, VeggiTech estimates the first crop to yield around 5.5 kilograms of saffron – this may seem a paltry sum but with a market value of up to $3000 a kilogram, it’s sure to push innovation in the sector. Did we mention it was grown in the desert? It doesn’t get any drier than that.

With 90% of the UAE’s food coming from imports, having access to the spice close to home will have a massive impact on transport emissions. And this is just one spice, in one country. Imagine being able to bring vertical farms to vulnerable countries with limited access to water! Is this anything but a leap towards a regenerative, prosperous and fair future? 

Of course, we still live in the present and the cost of setting up and running a vertical farm can be pricey. 

IDTechEx’s 2020 report suggests energy to typically cost around 35-40% of the Operation Expenditure (OpEX) of a vertical farm and high energy output equals higher emissions. With energy prices reaching an all time high, for many critics the future of vertical farming is questionable – say it isn’t so!

As we’ve seen, this hasn’t slowed the appetite of investors in agri-tech, and why should it? The key to successful technologies is innovation and development, R&D from well-funded startups is pushing progress. 

Already developments in energy efficient LED lights has meant costs are being brought down. And let’s not forget that changemakers in agri-tech are constantly generating solutions to constantly improve the practice. 

Innovation is paramount to growing a successful and regenerative business. We’ve seen this firsthand with IGS. Coupled with energy efficient LED lights and their TCEA, growers can increase energy efficiency by up to 50% while reducing the overall cost – we can already see progress being made.

What’s even more promising, and often not being considered by critics, is the prospect of vertical farms being run on renewable energy. The topic has been in the minds of agri-tech visionaries as far back as 2018, when yet another vertical farm pioneer, OneFarm, found that vertical farms run on green energy have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 70%. 

It seems to us that the energy costs and emissions of a radical technology such as vertical farming are but a symptom of the wider failures of our reliance on finite resources that are ravaging our planet. 

Closed-loop farming is only the beginning. It’s never been more clear that we need to shift towards renewable energy if we are to protect our planet and its people. With progress made every day, vertical farming gives us the opportunity to create a real impact on food insecurity and shifting towards green energy could yield limitless results!

It’s a great time to be a Changemaker

So, is vertical farming the future of agri-tech? The practice is growing fast and visionaries are surpassing setbacks whilst silencing critics. The process may not yet be perfect, but massive strides are already being made to future proof vertical farming. 

The practice will be essential in allowing land used by traditional farming methods to regenerate and thrive and the future of food security will come from a balanced collaboration between open-field and vertical farming. 

Socially-driven entrepreneurs are making their mark in the sector and with thought-leaders and investors ready to trust in the process, we’re thrilled by the potential that vertical farming brings to restoring balance to our world. As the sector grows, we must ensure that positive impact is at the heart of the progress.

We believe the real power of vertical farming comes from startups with a clear, driven purpose that will pave the way for progress and shift the business world’s outdated concept of profit at all costs. Those brave pioneers that understand the need to transform our broken system and build a brighter, regenerative and impactful future.  

As more changemakers rattle the business world with innovations in agri-tech, we can see real impact being made and we’re excited to be a part of it!

We have supported groundbreaking agri-tech startups to define their purpose and vision. Working collaboratively, we help to create ethical, regenerative growth that balances people, planet and profit. 

Without these visionary changemakers, we’d be stuck watching as greed and ignorance destroys our beautiful planet at the cost of its people and if that isn’t something worth growing-up for, we don’t know what is.

Let’s Recap

So, what do we know about vertical farming? The practice is making waves in the agri-tech sector and with the global market value set to surpass $20.9 billion (USD) by 2029, investors are looking to agri-tech startups for visionary solutions to food insecurity.

And with the ability to grow crops in even the harshest of climates, vertical farming has the ability to reduce transport emissions and bring the freshest, nutrient-rich produce to everyone around the globe. 

The process isn’t without its faults, with higher energy outputs and emissions, but the key to vertical farming’s success lies in visionary startups and we can already see the impact of advancements made to the closed-loop technology.

Through further research and a shift towards renewable energy, vertical farming can help restore balance to our planet and promises fair, regenerative growth that we desperately need.

But vertical farming is just one significant strand in the web of agri-tech. A driving force for change, its power comes from complementing traditional open-field techniques allowing a holistic approach to growth, with respect for our planet and its resources. 

Across the agri-tech sector we are stunned by the innovations of pioneers who, when working towards a shared vision, are building a future that benefits people, planet and profit. 

Looking for more?

Check out the Changemakers we’ve mentioned and some useful links below!

Are you driving to make change in agri-tech or needing guidance on regenerative growth?

We’d love to chat about how you can grow your business for maximum impact. We understand the need for real action and a shift towards impactful growth, that’s why Climate-tech is one of our key areas of focus.

If you’re keen to scale your own regenerative growth, why not reach out to Rae – there’s always a fresh pot of virtual coffee waiting!

Employer Branding

In this blog, we’re giving away 2 free tools for your use! Click below to get access to your free templates

The subject of recruitment has come up in a lot of my conversations lately. Across all sectors there are labour and skills shortages that are putting a strain on employers and their businesses. In particular I have been paying close attention to the marketing, branding and tech space. 

It’s an employee’s market. And if businesses are to have half a chance of recruiting and retaining the best people, then they must get off on the front foot, positioning themselves as an employer of choice. But how?

Well, we’ve actually been going through our own hiring round here at Zebra Growth as we’re growing our dazzle, and feel that we can share a good perspective about our personal experience in this blog. 

A solid employer branding strategy is essential to becoming an employer of choice. But the foundations of employer branding start from the inside, which is where many businesses are completely missing the mark. It’s not just a case of saying your business is a great place to work, you need to practise what you preach by demonstrating clear and consistent evidence of your culture if you want to attract and retain the right people.

But this isn’t just about recruitment. Because usually when it comes to last minute recruitment, you’re too late. Not having a strategy to nurture your organisational culture, and develop a first-class employee experience, often results in poor staff retention and a vicious cycle of hire-lose-hire. Treat the root cause, not the symptom.

47% of people cite company culture as their driving reason for applying for a job, so how do you make future employees recognise your business and its culture? Build an employer brand that is authentic that your current employees love!

Building a good employer brand starts with identifying how happy and engaged employees already are, building a cohesive plan to improve this across the whole employee lifecycle, before finally establishing how to clearly communicate this culture to future employees.

Top Tip: Want to identify how happy and engaged your employees are? Here at Zebra Growth, we use OfficeVibe, an online platform that offers managers an Employee experience solution to build better relationships with their people and create the conditions for great work. It’s essentially a safe place to exchange feedback and honest feelings so that your people feel engaged and happy at work, allowing us to keep our finger on the pulse of our culture.

What is an employer brand?

Similar to the way a corporate brand works (which offers a value proposition to customers, defining products or services in the marketplace), an employer brand includes the market’s perception of your business as an employer, but also describes your promise (or employee value proposition) to employees in exchange for their skills, experience and talents.

Employer branding is simply how you market your business to future potential employees and job seekers. Once you have a clearly defined and authentic culture in place, you do this by showcasing your businesses’ unique points of difference, amplifying them through communication to position yourself as a great place to work.

Done well, an employer brand will communicate that your business is a good employer and a great place to work, not only cementing your culture and motivating existing employees, but also attracting new motivated employees who are compelled to join your tribe. And when authentic employer brands really flourish, you begin to see employees sharing their positive experiences to their networks which creates amplification of the brand to other clients, customers, stakeholders, and potential future employees.

What is an employer value proposition (EVP)?

It’s hard to know where to start with employer branding, but an employer value proposition encompasses your company’s purpose, mission, values, and culture, and is a great place to start.

Think of it as a value exchange. Your company’s EVP is everything that you can offer an employee, in return for the skills, experience, talent and connections they bring to the table. Now put yourself in a skilled employee’s shoes, they bring a wealth of knowledge and an impressive track record to the table, and all you can offer them is a salary that’s slightly below market rate, and no career progression or additional perks. There’s a value imbalance that doesn’t add up.

That’s why establishing a well-designed Employer value proposition is so important, as it can attract and retain the best people, help with objective and goal setting, re-engage dispassionate workforces, improve company wide performance and reduce costly hiring costs.

The messaging you use to broadcast your employer brand isn’t just a list of perks and benefits you offer, that’s a job description! It goes much deeper than that and should be a collection of well considered component parts that make up the whole experience of working in your company. These should have been identified, defined, and tested with your current team in a collaborative way. Here are a few examples to consider:

  • Company Moral code and guiding principles (Do’s and Don’ts)
  • Company purpose
  • Companies Vision
  • Company values and culture
  • Company location and facilities
  • Salary and compensation
  • Flexible working policies
  • Ongoing employee recognition
  • Professional and personal development
  • Career progression
  • Team structure and communication style
  • Quality of work
  • Approach to mental wellbeing
  • Benefits and perks
  • Sustainability and environmental policies
  • Stance on social issues
  • Job security

What makes a good employer brand?

The employee market is constantly changing, and employee needs are no different. As the world moves, what employees want from their working experience does too. So it’s important for businesses to shape their policies, processes and culture to match. 

There’s no one culture fits all solution, but there are a few key trends that have developed in recent years that would be worth paying attention to:

1. Don’t focus on compensation

Of course people find salary important, but there are other more meaningful elements of a job that people value, particularly the younger Millennial and Gen-Z generations.

People are not just workhorses, they can be multi-faceted and have passions, hobbies and responsibilities to pursue outside of work, therefore flexible working can be very important.

Your Employer Value Proposition should be unique, compelling, and tuned into the deeper motivations of why a person might want to join your team, going way beyond the basic compensation. Someone will always have deeper pockets, and be willing to offer slightly more in terms of compensation, and that doesn’t leave you in a very good position.

However, it is also important to note that you need to be aware of the value of compensation at the same time, particularly in light of the current living crisis and inflation.

2. Employees have purpose

Employees are aware of the current roster of potentially catastrophic challenges that face humanity, and they expect their employers to be aware of this also.

You may not be in a position to change the world with the work you do as a company, but employees do expect you to be doing your bit, and rightly so!

Whether it’s a commitment to learning about social causes, evaluating your environmental impact, Implementing ESG, or looking closer at your governance, through commitments like becoming a BCORP. Employees want to work in a company that has an acute level of awareness about its impact on the world and want to know that what they are doing matters.

Employees also want to know that you recognise their efforts, knowing that the part they play in the company, contributes to the wider impact that it can have on the world. Having good processes in place for recognition are important to attracting and retaining good people. It’s less about money, and more about meaning.

Take ‘The Great Resignation’ as an example of people being sick of roles that don’t cater to their purpose. 

According to the World Economic Forum, ‘The Great Resignation’, a term coined in May 2021, describes the record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

Resignations are coming in at unprecedented rates as the labour market continues to recover from the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK’s Labour Force Survey revealed in November 2021 that 391,000 of the 1.02 million workers who changed jobs between July and September 2021 had quit, the largest jump in resignations the LFS had ever seen.

And the resignation doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with one in five workers globally planning to quit in 2022. 

The most upsetting aspects of the pandemic, according to Professor Dan Cable of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, may have sparked a stage of post-traumatic growth. People have been forced to consider carefully what they truly want from life, including their careers. People are pondering their true values and purpose in life at this time of great loss and illness. Professor Cable makes the very valid point, ‘Why would anyone want to spend their days engaging in activities that are inconsistent with those principles when we have such limited time?’ 

This new outlook on life, spurred on by the pandemic, has made people seek a deeper purpose in all they do.  Therefore, it is crucial to convey your brand’s purpose clearly and authentically so that employees may decide whether they agree with it or not and, if they do, come join your business.

3. People want progression, or they’ll look for it elsewhere

People are thinking more about the future than ever before. In recruiting and retaining the best people, it’s imperative that you communicate with clarity the career progression opportunities that exist in your organisation.

Having well developed structures in place for career progression and professional development is a good way to articulate this to potential employees, so that they can make a confident and informed decision about joining your team.

It’s important to look at the whole employee lifecycle. When a person is evaluating joining your company, they need to be able to see how their career can develop into the future.

The employer branding process

So, we have chatted through the basics, but here’s a step by step guide on how to get started:

Step 1. Diagnosis

This is an incredibly important step, because if your employer brand lacks authenticity, employees will see right through it and avoid you with a barge pole.

Looking within, and seeking to understand and define your company’s unique attributes is the first step in developing an employer brand.

Being sure to involve key stakeholders and reviewing your purpose, vision, mission, values, and culture is the first step in the process. Understanding what your company objectives are, what type of business you want to build, what success looks like, how you are going to get there and what sort of team is required to achieve this is of vital importance.

My team at Zebra Growth are experts at facilitating workshops to help define these core elements of a brand’s culture.

Step 2. Audit your employer brand

You may already know how your brand is perceived by customers (If you don’t you need to speak with Zebra Growth) but you may not be as aware of how your company is viewed by your current employees or potential employees in the job-seekers market.

Engaging in conversation with your team to establish how they feel about your culture and to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the employee experience is a great starting point. Leading on from this valuable exercise you can also look externally to the market perception of your brand by conducting interviews or surveys with potential future candidates.

Step 3. Define your employer value proposition

Defining your employer value proposition is a bit of an art. How do you curate a message that clearly communicates the unique elements of your workplace and your culture?

The most efficient way to do this is through expert facilitation. For example the team at ZG knows how to select the right exercises to extract all of the unique quirks and benefits out of a culture, before consolidating them into a clear value proposition.

It’s possible to do this yourself, with a whiteboard, post-its, and a good cross section of employees, but my advice would be to hire a wordsmith to condense your thoughts down into a powerful value prop afterwards.

Step 4. Develop your guiding policies

Once you have a clear understanding of your employer value proposition, a logical next step is to define and record how you will act as an employer. I like to think of this as your brand’s moral code, and it’s a fun exercise to do with your team.

In step 1 while exploring your employer brand, we covered ‘values’, which are simply the descriptive words or phrases that encapsulate how you act as a brand. Your guiding policies are an extension on these values and create the basis of a decision making framework for what you will and won’t do as a brand.

For example, at Zebra Growth one of our guiding policies is:

Everything we do as a business is designed to bring balance. 

Between financial stability and social impact.

Between form and function.

Between quality and speed of execution.

Between creativity and performance.

‘Bringing balance’ is one of our core values, and by building it out into a guiding policy, it provides a clear framework for all employees to build it into their decision making processes on a day to day basis so that when is comes to creating something internally or for a client they critique it to ensure that is brings balance.

Guiding policies are the rules that you live by as a brand, so make sure that they are well written and easy to understand.

Step 5. Build engagement among current employees

To help you become a trusted employer, look no further than your current team. Your employees shape your company’s culture, live your values, achieve your objectives, and manifest your company’s mission. Without their participation, your employer brand would be nothing.

When it comes to potential employees doing their due diligence on applying for a job, it is your team that they are likely to reach out to to ask about culture and the role.

Here are a few ways to get your team members more engaged with your employer brand:

  • Hone the message. Use a set of words or phrases that become a part of the company’s vernacular, as a way to describe your company’s values and what the experience of working for your company is all about. Keep it simple, clear, informative, and unique. Use this language in HR or recruiting meetings, and focus this language for your career pages, recruiting sites, social media accounts, and anywhere else your employer brand can be leveraged.
  • Regularly monitor culture. It’s not a case of writing your employer value proposition and that’s it. Your culture is forever evolving and requires constant attention, discussion and tweaking to keep fresh, authentic and relevant. Engaging monthly, quarterly or bi-annual stakeholder meetings to review culture and policies is important to maintain an employer brand that has actually been developed with employee consultation.
  • Foster Professional and Personal development. One of the best ways to develop skills in your organisation is to encourage career development. By investing in courses, training, and learning opportunities for your team you will strengthen your culture, and your customer experience. What’s more, your team will be proud to share their development in a public domain, which will foster the communication of your employer brand as one that invests in its people.
  • Shine a light on your employees.  LinkedIn or other professional networks are a great place for your employees to build meaningful relationships and to establish their own personal brand. Leveraging the experiences, expertise, and personalities of your employees by allowing them to engage in speaking events, networking, panel opportunities, or mentorship roles in relation to their particular field of interest is great for professional development but also a beacon of positivity onto your employer brand.
  • Wider reach through employee profiles. With an authentic culture that your employees believe in, it’s more likely that they will want to proactively engage in conversation about the brand. Company news, job opportunities, and updates will be much more powerful when shared from individuals in your company, than just on your company channels alone. The average network size of a company’s employees is 10x larger than its own, therefore a good step in an employer brand strategy is to help employees use LinkedIn and other social media networks to represent themselves and spread the word about your company.

Step 6. Share it with potential candidates

Job descriptions are often the first contact candidates have with your company, so they’re a perfect way to promote your employer brand. Taking all of the unique elements that make up your workplace, culture and brand, you can now craft an engaging and compelling job description that stands out in a sea of competition.

Be sure to take your time when writing a job description and avoid some of the common pitfalls such as not putting a salary range, not clearly articulating employee benefits, and not conveying your culture and brand personality through careful use of language and tone of voice. You want your job advert to speak to your ideal employee, so make sure it’s crafted in a way that speaks to members of your tribe that share the same values and characteristics.

It’s also worth noting the importance of onboarding at this stage. 

Onboarding is when a business provides new employees with training and information to help them get acclimated to their new position. This helps them to quickly understand their role, their employer’s expectations, and the company’s culture and values.

For example, here at Zebra Growth, our onboarding process involves vision and purpose meetings which ensures our new team members know exactly what our values are, but it’s also a chance for them to get their voice heard. 

Personal development meetings, regular check-ins and of course, OfficeVibe are all key parts of our onboarding process which makes sure our new team members are comfortable and eased into their new role. 

Additionally, having an onboarding process motivates workers to be dedicated to the success of the business and aids in the retention of new hires by making them feel like a part of the team.


The question really is; “Do your team believe in your brand?”

Brand strategy is commonly used to support external activity such as growing market share, building brand equity, and moving into new markets. But a lesser known benefit is that it’s an important factor in attracting, and retaining a strong and aligned team.

A good quality brand strategy helps you to articulate your core identity. In today’s job market, understanding your brand’s beliefs, building an organisation that truly reflects them, and telling your brand story effectively is crucial to attract and retain the people that will form your team.

Just like your brand fights to win over the hearts and minds of your customers, it equally has a job on its hand in winning over the dedication, passion and belief from your team, now and in the future. 

Just imagine the potential of a brand that is authentic, coordinated, and truly believed in by its team. 

By having full alignment and buy-in to your brand internally allows you to shine a light on your brand’s DNA, through your culture and content, and helps you turn your brand into a beacon.

Just like building a relationship with a consumer, to attract and retain the best employees, you need to foster a culture where everyone is bonded and driven by the same guiding principles.

Need some help?

What people want from today’s brands is authenticity; for brands to actually be what they claim to be. Purpose and values aren’t decided upon in a board meeting; they are discovered and evidenced.

Zebra Growth is a brand and ethical growth marketing strategy agency that helps impact startups and scaleups to build and communicate their brand authentically. We create robust brand and growth strategies for the companies that want to ensure that their future business decisions are coordinated, concentrated, and utterly authentic.

A big part of brand strategy is authentic culture, and employer branding plays a crucial role in this. If you would like to find out more about how brand strategy can help you to develop an employer brand then email me at

Zebra Growth and ViewsForChange collaborate to enhance impact and ethical marketing

Ethical Growth Strategists Zebra Growth and Impact Marketing Platform, ViewsForChange, are partnering up to advance a sustainable marketing agenda for impact-driven enterprises. 

Zebra Growth and ViewsForChange will work together on research projects, promote impact marketing, and motivate the brands they engage with to strike a balance between generating profitable growth and creating positive social impact.

From a brand’s perspective, it’s critical to understand that when conscientious consumers’ purchasing power increases, they are more inclined to spend with brands that have a positive social impact. And, if a brand’s values conflict with their own, they are willing to vote with their wallet.

Here’s what Rae Legallienne (Head Of Business Development @ Zebra Growth) and Nicola Telford (Founder @ ViewsForChange) had to say:

We are delighted to announce our new partnership with Views for Change. With a shared commitment to authentic ethical and environmental principles, we will strive to support and empower a new generation of change-makers. Through collaboration and co -creation we really CAN balance positive social impact with ethical growth, for the benefit of people and the planet.

Rae Legallienne

Head Of Business Development, Zebra Growth

It’s really exciting to be inspiring a new wave of marketing alongside impact-marketers like the team at Zebra Growth. We are hugely aligned in our values and approach to how marketing can create positive social impact; and I look forward to working with the team to drive forward the impact marketing agenda.

Nicola Telford

Founder, ViewsForChange

What to expect from this new partnership 

  • Contribution to the launch of Roar of the Zebra, our new LinkedIn community for underrepresented groups
  • Webinar co-creation 
  • Shared resources and valuable content 
  • Contribution to our Ethical Growth and Social Impact Report 

We’d also like to say a quick congratulations to Nicola who won the Founder of the Year award at TechSPARK UK! Well deserved and we’re honoured to get to work alongside such an inspiring mind!  

About ViewsForChange

ViewsForChange is the Impact Marketing Platform. Enabling brands to integrate, attribute and verify tangible impact in their marketing activity. A first-of-its-kind platform, running ViewsForChange campaigns engages consumers with impact from the first impression, in real-time. 

Their platform works with eCommerce, DTC and B2C marketers that understand the importance of real social impact; not only for consumer engagement, but in creating a more regenerative marketing ecosystem.

Set up is simple: brands can choose a cause they align with; integrate their sources (like Instragram Ads or Tiktok Ads) and attribute a % of their cost-per-action to the cause. This impact is then unlocked when consumers take the desired action; brands can engage their consumers with this impact using our impact widgets (and many more consumer experiences coming soon!)

About Zebra Growth

Zebra Growth is a small agency with big ideas! We want to do our bit for humanity through the power of mindful, balanced growth. We’re helping to build a new, regenerative economy. An economy that is run by ethically driven entrepreneurs who seek to balance profitable growth with creating positive societal impact.

We work with ethically driven start-ups worldwide to create and grow revolutionary brands. Only partnering with organisations that authentically place social or environmental impact at their core.

We take an experiment-led approach to building and launching a brand, allowing you to test and validate ideas, minimise wastage, accelerate growth, and maximise impact.

We adopt this approach, with the addition of ethics, transparency and social impact as a priority and are always seeking better, smarter and more efficient ways to grow.

Business Is Sick: The Need for an Economic Regenerative Transformation

COP26, global climate strikes, a damning report from the IPCC. All very clear signals that accelerating climate change and ecological breakdown pose an existential threat to life on Earth. 

But the climate emergency is just a symptom of wider system failure which presents the greatest obstacles to meaningful climate action. This is the system which centres our economy on maximising profits for a small number of shareholders and beneficiaries, at the expense of people and the natural world. Just look at P & O Ferries for example, some financial troubles, and 800 staff dismissed without proper and legal consultation. 

In this blog, we’ll be looking at the role of the ‘growth-at-all-costs’ mindset in this system, using WeWork as another example of the devastation that certain unicorn firms and huge corporations are wreaking on communities and the environment as a result of our current economic system’s influence.

We will then introduce to you Doughnut Economics, an economic model with potential to heal the broken system, the 7 Principle Practices that should be followed, and its role in pushing towards an economic regenerative transformation. 

Business Has Lost Its Balance…

We’re all aware of the climate emergency.

Between the United Nations Climate Action Summit, youth-led Global Climate Strikes and COP26, I think it’s safe to say we’re all pretty aware of the threats our wonderful little planet and all of us on it are facing when it comes to ecological breakdown and climate change.

We believe that one of the main drivers of the climate emergency, and the greatest obstacle to meaningful climate action, is the system failure that centres our economy on maximising profits at the expense of people and the natural world. This leads to short-term decision making that places environmental and social costs on the margins, creating massive systemic risk and social unrest. 

The reality is that business leaders are going to have to start questioning this system failure at every opportunity with the goal of moving toward a new economic system that requires them and the investors who own their businesses to operate with a first principle to preserve the natural and social systems upon which life and thriving markets depend. 

Any meaningful response to the climate disaster should include not only strong climate action within individual businesses, but also courageous campaigning to overturn the systemic failure of shareholder primacy. 

Ps. If you’re interested in finding out about alternatives to shareholder primacy, sign up to our newsletter and you’ll be one of the first to be notified when our next article is released where we’ll be discussing Steward-Ownership. 

The ‘growth-at-all-costs’ mindset

The startup has become one of the world’s most influential organisations, but its growth-at-all-costs mindset isn’t bringing the benefits you’d expect. 

For a business to survive and successfully thrive, it must grow. However, the problem with some start-ups is that they believe they require rapid growth, forever.  

Growth is of course essential, especially considering that only around 5% of start-ups expand quickly enough and scale sufficiently to be viable. But should it be the main goal of a startup’s founders?

The end goal of quick growth for start-ups, particularly Unicorn Start-ups, is usually to raise as much cash from investors and to achieve that huge valuation. But to achieve that goal, they risk using all available resources, both planetary and human. 

‘Unicorn start-ups’, according to Beauhurst, are private companies with a valuation of at least $1 billion (now around £760 million). Aileen Lee, Founder of Cowboy Ventures invented the term in her 2013 article ‘Welcome to the Unicorn Club: Learning from Billion-Dollar Startups.’ In our next blog piece, we’ll take a deeper dive into the startup scene, notably the zebra movement, which is an alternative to the unicorn; so sign up here to get alerted when it’s published.

Due to the difficulty of privately-held enterprises reaching this billion-dollar valuation, these businesses were dubbed unicorns, however unicorn companies are no longer so uncommon. Over 1,000 companies are considered to be on the unicorn list globally – over 1000 companies attempting to grow fast and achieve a one-billion-dollar valuation. 

Imagine the speed at which our resources are being used to achieve this.

Although, it’s also not just unicorn startups that are wreaking havoc. It’s also these massive corporations which turn to us as individuals to make changes when they are the ones causing the greatest harm. They’ve already surpassed their billion-dollar valuation and are extremely valuable, yet they still want to expand and create more money for the few, regardless of how they get there.

This growth-at-all-costs mindset is evident in some examples such as the WeWork and P&O scandal. Uber’s treatment of staff, Facebook weaponising hate speech, Twitter trolls and AirBnB’s negative impact on communities are among some of the other examples we can look to for evidence.

But let’s take a deeper look at the WeWork scandal first to get a clearer idea of how the startup world in particular can cause business to be sick…

With big shot investors like Goldman Sachs Group and JP Morgan Chase & Co, WeWork was valued at 4.6 billion dollars in 2014. And although it was losing six million dollars a month, it was growing faster than ever before, with plans for sixty locations in more than a dozen cities. By 2016, there was growing doubt about the company’s ability to maintain its value, yet SoftBank, a Japanese multinational holding firm invested a further $4.4 billion into the company. 

But all that glitters isn’t actually gold. It was revealed during filings for an IPO that Neumann had been charging the company for personal expenses such as credit card debt secured by WeWork stock, raising further doubts about the company’s true value and corporate governance.

Neumann’s ultimate goal was to become the biggest office-space provider in the world. And there was the problem. Neumann wanted to be the world’s biggest office-space provider, stopping at nothing to achieve that. 

This is evidence of a startup entrepreneur putting profit maximisation first and doing everything he can to make his firm look appealing to investors so that he would be able to reach that goal of becoming the world’s biggest office space provider. Growth at all costs actually cost these entrepreneurs their whole firm. WeWork downplayed losses and overhyped its business plan, an all too common story in the unicorn world. 

And it’s not just real life, we are consuming the poison of growth at all costs on our screens. Billions, Succession starring Brian Cox, WeCrashed starring Jared Lato which actually tells the story of Adam Neumann and WeWork, and The Dropout with Amanda Seyfried. 

But, we can’t put all the blame on unicorn startups and forget about those bigger corporations out there… 

A larger scale example of ‘profits at all costs culture’

The P & O Ferries affair is a perfect illustration of this ‘profits at all costs’ attitude in these larger businesses to maximise shareholder profits and its genuine detrimental implications.

Having £100 million in losses year on year, P & O stated ‘our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now’. They subsequently fired 800 employees without warning, telling them that this was their last day on the job and that they would be replaced with new crew hired by a third party. 

It now seems apparent they have broken the law. When making substantial layoffs, an employer must a) give 45 days notice to the necessary authorities and b) consult the employees, usually through unions. P & O acknowledge that they did neither.

In a shockingly frank statement to MPs in March, chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite said: ‘There’s absolutely no doubt we were required to consult with the unions. We chose not to do that.’

Hebbelwaith indicated he was ‘saving the business’ because it ‘otherwise had no future’. But at what cost? 

As a business decision, his unrelenting quest of profit has driven him to break the law. `We now have a future. We don’t have to shut down the company,’ he said. Hebbelwaithe may believe he still has a business, but profit took precedence over people’s livelihoods, and look at the damage that was done. He no longer has his business. 

Although some unicorn businesses are leaving a trail of devastation in their wake, we’re starting to see with these large scale examples that it’s really not just the businesses, it’s actually the system that they’re operating within that is pushing these companies to fall off the ethics wagon. The reality is that we need an economic regenerative transformation that will allow financial stability and social and environmental impact to be on the same level of importance. 

You’re probably starting to think ‘why do such toxic cultures exist in the first place? Why have we accepted systems that prioritise profit over all else for so long? Why have we accepted a system where rapid expansion is seen as the key to success?’ Especially when looking at the examples of P & O and WeWork, we know that the growth-at-all-costs mindset leads to the eventual downfall of your business. So, how can we shift our economy to allow for anything other than shareholder primacy? 

And you know, you’re right. These are burning questions that we too are asking ourselves and that need to be addressed to dig deep into a possible economic regeneration. 

Introducing Doughnut Economics – A model to heal the system 

So, how do we ensure that corporations, and the investors who own them, operate with a first principle to preserve the natural and social systems upon which life and thriving markets depend?

Drum roll please…

Introducing the Doughnut Economy. According to the Doughnut Economics Action Lab (DEAL), ‘the Doughnut Economy presents a vision of what it will take for humanity to thrive in the 21st century, and Doughnut Economics delves into the mindset and ways of thinking that will lead us there’. 

We’d like to note here that although we’re a huge fan of doughnut economics, there are limits to it, just like all frameworks. Business is sick and the doughnut economy is one of the best fundamental solutions. Of course there are other models that are useful but this is the one that is gaining the most popularity. Essentially, it’s a nice way of explaining an economy that helps people to thrive rather than extract.

The doughnut is made up of two concentric rings: 

1. A social foundation that ensures no one is left falling short on life’s essentials. The social foundations 12 dimensions are developed from the social concerns set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

2. The second ring serves as an ecological ceiling ensuring that humanity does not collectively exceed the planetary boundaries that protect Earth’s life-sustaining systems. The ecological ceiling has 9 dimensions, which are identified by Earth-System Scientists as 9 planetary boundaries. 


The doughnut-shaped area between these two sets of boundaries is both ecologically safe and socially just: a space where humanity can thrive. 

As a result, the goal is to meet the demands of all people while remaining within the limits of the living planet. But, if that’s the goal, you’re all probably thinking we’re a long way from achieving it. 

And you’re not wrong. 

All of the red in the doughnut represents the extent to which individuals are lacking in basic necessities of existence. According to DEAL, we must remove all red from the diagram, and we have to do so from both sides at the same time. 

We know all this talk can be a bit disheartening, but according to Nasa, the ozone layer is finally closing up because we humans are doing something about it. This makes us think ‘wow what we’re doing is actually working’. What better motivation! 

Essentially, we should all look at this doughnut and think to ourselves, ‘This is my company badge; we’re in business to help achieve these objectives; that’s why we’re here – we’re here to protect and preserve our natural and social systems’.

To address the degradation of the living environment and inequities in human communities, we need to develop businesses that are both regenerative and distributive by design.

But wait. What makes it possible for an organisation to become regenerative and distributive so that it helps bring humanity into the Doughnut?

We should be concentrating on the design of a business’ organisation rather than the design of their products and services. According to Marjorie Kelly, a renowned theorist in next-generation enterprise design, an organisation’s mission, networks, governance, ownership, and finance are the five main design qualities that influence what it can accomplish and be in the world.

DEAL has developed the 7 Doughnut Principles of Practice that businesses should follow to ensure they’re truly bringing the world’s economies into a secure and just space for humanity, and to maintain the integrity of any business concepts when they’re put into practise –

  1. Embrace the 21st century Goal – Meet the needs of all people within the planet’s resources. Aim to align the mission, networks, governance, ownership, and finance of your organisation with this aim.
  2. See the big picture – Recognize the possible roles of the household, the commons, the market, and the state in reforming economies, as well as their many synergies. Ensure that money complements rather than dominates the work.
  3. Nurture human nature – Diversity, participation, collaboration, and reciprocity should all be encouraged. Strengthen community networks, collaborate with a high level of trust and be concerned about the team’s well-being.
  4. Think in systems – Experiment, learn, adapt, evolve and aim for continuous improvement. Be alert to dynamic effects, feedback loops and tipping points. 
  5. Be distributive – Work in an open design spirit, and share the value you generate with everyone who helped you make it. Recognize power and work to disperse it across stakeholders to improve equity.
  6. Be regenerative – Aim to work with and within the cycles of the living world. Be a sharer, regenerator, steward. Reduce travel, minimise flights, be climate and energy smart. 
  7. Aim to thrive rather than to grow – Don’t let growth become a goal itself. Know when to let the work spread out via others rather than scale up in size. 

The reality is that businesses need to be built with this economy in mind. Again, we’re not saying that doughnut economics is the answer to everything, but it’s a good place to start. Genuine, purpose-driven businesses that are allowed to balance environmental and social needs with their financial stability are what we need. And that’s what Zebra Growth is all about. 

The examples of WeWork and P&O show how they were falling short on providing income and work, health, and social equity. For both of these companies, the growth-at-all-costs mindset took over. But again, the problem lies with the influence from our current economic system to maximise profit above all else.

Our whole mission here at Zebra Growth is to help genuinely purpose driven brands scale their impact, and so shifting towards a doughnut economy is vital to allow these mission driven scale-ups to thrive in an economy that isn’t built to push them to create as much profit as possible at whatever cost. We need to have this doughnut system as the underpinning economy/philosophy moving forward – ensuring that corporations, and the investors who own them, actually operate with a first principle to preserve the natural and social systems upon which life and thriving markets depend.

Look, we really do understand the need for a paradigm shift and that’s why we’re here; to be that helping hand in communicating your purpose.


Okay, so let’s go over everything we just covered. We know that accelerating climate change and ecological breakdown pose an existential threat to life on Earth, and we know that this climate emergency is just a symptom of wider system failure which presents the greatest impediment to meaningful climate action. 

In this blog, we looked at the critical role not only the startup plays in this system, but also larger corporations, and the pain and suffering the growth-at-all-costs mindset is causing. We then gave practical examples of the destruction these companies are causing to communities and to the environment. 

Doughnut Economics (one of our faves) was proposed as a potential solution to heal the broken economic system with the following 7 principles of practice to be followed according to DEAL to ensure businesses are truly bringing the world’s economies into a secure and just space for humanity:

  1. Embrace the 21st century Goal 
  2. See the big picture 
  3. Nurture human nature 
  4. Think in systems 
  5. Be distributive 
  6. Be regenerative 
  7. Aim to thrive rather than to grow 

So what are you waiting for? 

If you’re an entrepreneur or marketer, and something in your gut is telling you that the current system and the destruction it’s causing isn’t right, then join our mailing list and be the first to receive exclusive event invites, new blog posts like these, and a bunch of free resources you can start using with your team straight away.

Ethical Growth Marketing 101: Combining Growth hacking With Social Impact

Ethical Growth Marketing

Within this article, we will go through the 6 principles of ethical growth marketing, and explain how social impact startups that are building the new, purpose-driven economy, need to create sustainable growth (with a limit) to make this movement the norm of our economy. 

Want to get straight to the 6 principles? Click here and skip the background info!

Or are you in a more curious mood and want to deep dive into what growth marketing is all about? Just keep reading on.  

Entering the purpose economy

green plant

Socially focused startups and business models are the future of business. According to The Entrepreneur, social impact businesses are on the rise and are attracting the top talent as well as more investment appetite.

We are moving away from the “get rich, to donate” model – also known as CSR, and are moving into an economy that places positive social and environmental change at the core of business and entrepreneurship. *Finally* you’re probably thinking. 

According to Aaron Hurst, the foremost expert on the science of purpose and fulfilment at work, the purpose economy is “an economy that is driven and organised around the creation of purpose for people, not just information, goods and services.”

But startups that are focusing on purpose often struggle to survive, yet alone reach their ambitious, life-changing and often systemic goals. The constant internal battle between social impact and revenue generation is something that often feels uncomfortable. Yet relying on donations and grants would just take us back to the charity model – one that has been facing massive criticism about its efficiency for decades. 

Taken from Silicon Valley’s greatest minds, social impact firms are now incorporating lean, high-growth, and data-driven based innovation to their mix, taking lessons from Dropbox, Twitter, Netflix, and a slew of other “successful” digital titans. The three basic pillars of a lean company, according to Fast Company, are to “think large, start small, and persistently pursue impact.” However, it looks as though the wave hasn’t quite caught up when it comes to marketing one’s business.

And so, we introduce you to an adaptation of the lean impact which can be applied to a company’s marketing function; Ethical Growth Marketing. I’m sure you’re probably now starting to think ‘wait, how can growth be ethical?’ or ‘we need de-growth, not more growth’. 

And you aren’t completely incorrect. Emphasis on “completely”. 

The fact is that for a social impact business, and especially a startup, to create the positive change it is relentlessly seeking, brand, revenue and impact growth is a must-have for its survival. 

We aren’t talking about growth with no limits or at all costs. We aren’t talking about growth for the massively disproportionately few who own the company. We aren’t talking about using manipulation to grow. We also aren’t talking about making the biggest corporations of this world grow even more, so that they can ensure that their shareholders keep getting their hefty payouts at the end of each quarter. 

We are talking about the widely tabooed topic of revenue generating and impact focused growth that impact startups rely on to survive and make a positive change. 

Okay so let’s get into it, what actually is growth marketing? 

Traditional marketing meant you needed to plan ahead. You needed to predict. You needed to assume. Whilst most marketers have been applying this long-term planning approach, the most innovative businesses out there noticed that it wasn’t the most effective way they could adapt to their market. 

‘How can you grow as your market grows, and the environment changes?’ is a question you’re undoubtedly thinking about right now. 

When Sean Ellis became VP of Growth at Dropbox in 2008/2009, he focused on this question. According to Houston, he helped the SAAS firm go from a situation where their cost per acquisition was costing them money to one where Dropbox’s customer acquisition soared by more than 60%.

So, what did Sean Ellis bring to the table that was so different to traditional marketing? It was all in the approach. He adopted theories from the Lean Startup by Eric Reis, a methodology that allows today’s startups to launch and grow their organisation in a lean, iterative manner.  

You might think – argh. Growth marketing sounds cool, but it’s not something we have the budget for. One day, we might. That’s where most early stage startups miss the point. Growth marketing primarily focuses on applying the Pareto law throughout all activity and decisions.This means that growth marketers should constantly be thinking “what is the 20% input that will give me 80% of the output?” They also run varying tactics, campaigns, messaging, channels and product iterations, as a set of experiments. 

This primarily means one thing – marketing activity in the long run becomes a lot more cost effective. 

“With growth marketing, brands have a blueprint to test frequently, learn quickly and adapt effectively. Growth marketing takes the traditional aspects of marketing, like print, TV, radio and billboards, and shifts the conversation from “how can we attract our customer?” to “how can we keep our customers longer?” With this new conversation comes the ability to reach your target audience through data-backed decisions. The result of this? Long-term, sustainable growth“ – Forbes, 2021

We will dive deeper into what frameworks are used by growth marketers that you can start using this week, but first, let us explain what a Zebra is. 

What is a Zebra? 

What does a business actually serve in today’s society? Is getting rich as an entrepreneur or investor really going to give you that fulfilment you’re seeking? Has overconsumption and growth at all costs been the destined outcome of capitalism? These are all questions we know are weighing on your mind everyday. We know the feeling too well…

A new wave of conscious system changers, entrepreneurs and early pioneering businesses all around the world see things differently though. *Shout out to all you inspiring Zebras out there! 

We are in the midst of a Zebra movement, where founders all over the world are wanting to make the world a fairer, cleaner and more enjoyable place to live in and with, rather than aiming to become the next unicorn and becoming a billionaire. 

In 2017, a movement sprang up online that quickly manifested in cities around the world. It’s now a growing community of business founders who reject the venture capital investment model and support the creation and discovery of alternative funding methods. This ‘Zebra movement’, as it’s called, was started by four inspiring women: Astrid Scholz, Mara Zepeda, Jennifer Brandel, and Aniyia Williams, who want to encourage fellow startup founders to build zebras rather than unicorns.

But, if a unicorn is defined as a startup that is valued at a billion dollars (really, only a handful of startups make this stamp and usually have to neglect society or the environment to get there), then how can we define a Zebra? 

This is nicely defined by the founders of the Zebra Movement, one we at Zebra Growth are proud to be a founding member of. 

The Zebra Movement

Zebras: Let's Get In Formation. By Jennifer Brandel, Mara Zepeda… | by  Jennifer, Mara, Astrid & Aniyia | Zebras Unite | Medium

To state the obvious: unlike unicorns, zebras are real.

Zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.

Zebras are also mutualistic: by banding together in groups, they protect and preserve one another. Their individual input results in stronger collective output.

Zebra companies are built with peerless stamina and capital efficiency, as long as conditions allow them to survive.

Wanting to find out what the Zebra Movement is all about? Make sure to read our Manifesto here

Growth Marketing can create sustainable revenue-generating growth for your startup

So now you know what growth marketing is, and what it means to be a Zebra, but what are the advantages of using this approach we’re raving about? 

The benefits of growth marketing include a faster time to market, a higher return on investment, and the capacity to scale marketing activity that is yielding positive results quickly. It will also enable you to form an emotional bond with your target audience, depending on where they are in the funnel, giving them a comprehensive offering that is tailored to their needs. 

Companies can use a variety of tools to improve their processes using this data-driven growth marketing method. Not to mention that having access to data makes demonstrating the return on investment of all growth marketing operations much easier. No more stressing and struggling to show stakeholders return on investment. 

Having a full-funnel, scalable growth marketing approach offers value at every stage of the marketing funnel, attracting, engaging, keeping, and eventually converting customers into brand ambassadors. 

We’re back again to that intriguing little term we call Ethical growth marketing

Let’s get straight to it; The 6 core pillars of Ethical Growth Marketing:

1) Growth mindset

Carol Dweck studies human motivation. She spends most of her time analysing how humans are wired, why some tend to progress in life at a faster rate whilst others don’t. Her theory of the two mindsets and the difference they make in outcomes is incredibly powerful – not just for business growth and startup culture, but in life in general. 

She states that we often adopt two types of mindsets. These mindsets can shift, and are in no way permanent. Yet, as the early childhood psychologist Dweck pointed out within her mindset theory – we often adopt either a fixed or a growth mindset. And these are in no way permanent. You and I have both been in both those states of the mind. Yet becoming aware of them and actively aiming for the growth mindset can be life-altering. 

When being faced with a fixed mindset, your sense of ability comes to the surface. One automatically shifts focus to prove, to show off and to become defensive. This (fixed) mindset often leads to a lack of ability to learn, as mistakes are seen as failures. Failures to one identity. The reason? Primarily due to the fact that you, when in a fixed mindset, think that skills, personality traits and characteristics are things you were born with. Not things that are under your influence. And with that, comes your inner voice that is constantly telling you that you are not worthy, and that this is the way ‘it has always been done’. Who cares if this is the way it has always been done? This is the ultimate innovation and growth blocker. We’re here to say this is the way it has to be done now! 

Carol Dweck, on the other hand, optimistically highlights that there’s another mindset. ‘A mindset in which these characteristics aren’t just a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, where you’re always trying to persuade yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly terrified it’s a pair of tens. In this perspective, the hand you’re dealt is only the beginning of your journey. This growth mentality is founded on the idea that you may improve your basic attributes by putting in effort.’

A growth mindset encourages continuous learning. It encourages risk taking. It encourages being comfortable in the uncomfortable. 

And you guessed it. That’s a massive shift in perspective to traditional marketing approaches. 

What’s the most effective campaign we should launch early next year? No clue. Who does, really? We can have some ideas that feel right at the moment, but the ability to drop your assumptions, starting with your ego, can unlock new opportunities your team would have never been able to encounter before. Instead, this mindset forces the team to become more data and learning focused. 

2) Experiment led and “Lean” – The G.R.O.W.S. process 

It’s okay to assume. It’s not okay to believe these assumptions are right before testing them. In order to make sure you are utilising the best growth levers out there, a growth marketer sets hypotheses, to then test them out. Putting one’s ego aside, a growth marketer goes to the market with a curious mindset, gathering initial data that can validate the best hypothesis to support the company’s growth.

At the heart of growth marketing lies the continuous, iterative and data-gathering process. The key is to trust the process. This means that at times of wanting to launch this next big campaign idea, you have to take a step back, focus on where you are within the growth process (aka G.R.O.W.S. process) and add it to the backlog of ideas you are needing to weigh up when the time comes. 

The process consists of 5 steps, these are as follows:

G – Gather Ideas: Brainstorm as many experiment-ideas as possible with your team.

R – Rank Ideas: Use the ICE-framework (impact + confidence + ease) to prioritise which ideas have the highest ROI (=potential x effort). This is basically an easy and systemic way of sticking to the 20/80 rule.

O – Outline Experiments: Choose your next steps and design your experiment as quick and small as possible. The main question here is: what is the one metric that matters the most within this experiment, and what is the minimum amount of data required to validate it?

W – Work work work: Execute your experiment in a 2-4 week window. (The time period of running your experiment may vary based on your business size, industry and model). 

S – Study (and Implement) outcome: Analyse the data from your experiment and decide on the next steps to take: learn or implement!

*The G.R.O.W.S. process was adopted from GrowthTribe.

3) The Ethical Growth Funnel (AAARRR(I))

The marketing funnel is what defines your customer journey. In the marketing world, especially when it comes to data-driven marketing, the funnel is the basis of your whole strategy.

However, most marketers have so far only been concentrating on “making noise”. Meaning getting the attention of people might sometimes lead to them becoming interested in making a purchase. When it comes to growth marketing, however, the marketing funnel must be viewed through a much more holistic lens.

Aside from having the full funnel in sight, it’s also very important to note that the growth marketing funnel is somewhat different to your typical ToFu, MoFu, Bofu. It’s also somewhat different to your business-school “AIDA” model. 

This model is adopted by the growth funnel, aka the ‘pirate funnel’. To ensure that this can also fit the Zebra Startup approach, for startups with a business model that is focused on creating a positive social and/or environmental impact, the funnel should end with a measurable impact. Ideally, an impact that can be optimised towards. This changes the whole paradigm and mindset of your growth team, and company as a whole. Instead of having to constantly battle between social impact and revenue generation, this ensures that the both are in one funnel. One journey. Where impact is the ultimate goal. 

The funnel consists of 6 key stages:

1. Awareness

This first step is often left out within the growth marketing world. However, especially in the social impact space where behaviour change is often so crucial, we always recommend our clients to start measuring the first touchpoint any user would have outside any referral schemes. How many users are you reaching for the very first time, and how effective are they moving to the next stage? Think all the TikTok traffic is great? Look at how much of that traffic is converting to stage two, and then judge the effectiveness of it!

2. Acquisition 

This is where you first have a user spend some time with you as a brand. Usually, traffic is the main metric one would measure here. Some startups might be even more specific and only count traffic in certain pages or for a certain session duration. In any case, the user has not only seen your ad on social media or on that press release, but they have actually shown a bit of interest and have ended up on your brand asset. 

2. Activation 

This is where a relationship starts to flourish. This is where the user clearly indicates that they are interested in what you do. This is where you should WOW your users. Where they should be most impressed. Here, a user should be willing to give something up, often their data like an email address or an app signup, in exchange for starting a conversation with you. Receiving more content. Or getting access to a service or product that can fill a pain-gap. Important: this is not to be confused with the purchase of your product. 

4. Retention 

Within the retention stage, you should ask yourself “how can I ensure that the activated users come back and gain from the content?”. Whether you want to measure the number of emails they’ve opened since signing up to your mailing list, the number of free webinars or training they’ve attended, or the number of days it took them to re-open the app again. Here the focus is on tracking how many users actually care about the content you are offering them vs. those who entered their email address and regretted it the next second. 

5. Referral 

The main question within this stage is: “How do I ensure that my users are sharing my brand or solution with their friends, families and colleagues?”. If you have a solid product, newsletter and/or brand, then they surely will anyway, right?! Surely not. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Ensuring a strong value proposition that connects with your users, to incentivise and guides them by referring people is most likely the most important stage of the whole growth funnel. It is what creates virality, and what could potentially 5X your ROI for your marketing activity, if not more.

We all know how Word of Mouth is the most effective channel. This just ensures that it is part of your marketing strategy. 

6. Revenue

This is where the business hat comes in. Here you should ask yourself, “how can I turn potential customers into paying customers?” This is where you count how much money your business model can actually bring on, as without it, any social impact startup or scaleup would be relying on outside funders which would make it less lean, less flexible and less financially sustainable. The main three metrics one should keep in mind are:

  • Number of paying users
  • Average order value per user
  • Customer lifetime value

7. Impact

Finally, impact is the stage where you should ask yourself “how many people am I positively effecting”? This is the most flexible one to measure, and we would highly recommend you first having a look at the Theory of Change social impact measurement tool to understand how you can start measuring your social and/or environmental impact. 

Do you witness revenue going up, yet your impact is suffering? Then you are not optimising your marketing and growth activity appropriately! This doesn’t have to measure the full impact you are making in the long run, especially if the impact you are making will take years and years to measure. It should however give your growth function an indication if you are positively aiding your social impact, or not. 

4) Growth with a limit – The S-shaped growth curve

You would have probably heard of the hockey stick growth curve. A curve indicating your growth will only increase over time – for EVER. Doesn’t sound sustainable, ey? 

However, when we look at how plants grow (and thrive) in nature, we realise that they follow “a pattern of growth in which, in a new environment, the population density of an organism increases slowly initially, in a positive acceleration phase; then increases rapidly approaching an exponential growth rate as in the J-shaped curve; but then declines in a negative acceleration phase until at zero growth rate the population stabilises.” The encyclopaedia states that this is because the plant eventually gains resilience. 

How can we adopt this pattern to our businesses? Do businesses really need to focus on fast paced growth once they become resilient? We don’t believe so. Instead, it becomes their duty to help other smaller organisations with aligning purposes to thrive faster! Competition you must fearlingly say? We call them allies. 

5)  Transparency & Honesty 

Running growth focused marketing campaigns can become a risky game to play whilst looking at one’s ethical radar. Manipulation, unconsented data gathering, targeting the most vulnerable, have all become common practices within growth marketers and startups wanting to grow quickly. 

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. And let me tell you one thing, the last thing a potential paying customer will want to find out is that an impact focused brand isn’t honest or transparent with their communications. 

Are you adding someone to your CRM? Let them know straight away. Are you sourcing materials that aren’t yet 100% regenerative? Let them know about it, and show how you are wanting to change that. 100% transparency and honesty is the only way forward. 

Being transparent and fully honest within marketing campaigns and communications in general requires vulnerability. And with vulnerability comes trust and a more loyal customer base. 

6) Above all: Balance

I’m sure we’re all starting to see how business has lost its balance. Entrepreneurs and teams have been leaning on extremes, and that rarely creates long-term, sustainable growth. 

The business world rewards quantity over quality, consumption over creation, quick exits over sustainable growth, and shareholder profit over shared prosperity. It is built on ego and the power of the individual.

On top of that, building and running a high growth startup that wants to do the world justice and potentially help people in serious issues such as mental health, brings a lot of stress with it.

To truly grow ethically and sustainably, balance has to be at the core of your team’s culture. 

Your team has to start balancing;

  • Between financial stability and social impact.
  • Between form and function.
  • Between quality and speed of execution.
  • Between creativity and performance.

In order to excel your company’s growth whilst still being able to stay authentic and true to your purpose, a strong sense of balance will allow your team to flourish. It will allow you and your team to flow within this experiment-led approach of growth. It will allow your team to constantly come up with innovative ideas, and it will give you the space to be reflective and critical from an ethical lens, whilst still seizing opportunities for your company to grow and scale its impact in the long run. 


Okay so let’s go over what we’ve covered. We know that because of capitalism’s main principles, society is living in a profit-driven culture that values overconsumption and an endless pursuit of growth at all costs. We know a new economy, one that values social and environmental well-being, as well as economic advantages, is needed. This is why socially focused startups and business models are the future of business.

However, the reality is that many purpose-driven startups are battling just to stay afloat, nevermind attain these lofty, systemic aspirations of making positive change. The fact is that social impact entrepreneurs who are developing this new, purpose-driven economy must achieve sustained growth (within reason) in order to make purpose-driven movements the standard in our economy. The real lingering question therefore is ‘How can these start-ups strike a balance between their financial stability and their social effect?’

And the answer is Ethical Growth Marketing. Revenue generating, impact focused, data-driven growth. 

Having a growth mindset, using an experiment-led, lean strategy, utilising the Ethical Growth Funnel (AAAAARR(I), realising growth has a limit, valuing transparency and honesty, and above all, reaching a state of balance, are the 6 basic pillars of Ethical Growth Marketing.

Faster time to market, a stronger return on investment, and the capacity to scale marketing activity that is yielding positive results quickly will all be benefits of adopting this lean, experiment-driven approach. This scalable, full funnel growth marketing strategy offers value at every stage of the marketing funnel, attracting, engaging, retaining, and ultimately converting customers into brand advocates.

You’ve come this far, want to learn more about how you can grow your brand, revenue and impact with a lean approach? Join our mailing list and be the first to receive exclusive event invites, new blog posts like these and a bunch of free resources you can start using with your team straight away.