Yoga by Numbers, Inc.

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Launching a New Business

The initial launch of a business is full of excitement and anticipation. A new product! Innovation! Buzz! It is also full of paperwork, fees, and decisions. The first question is often what type of entity to form. Are you starting a non-profit? A for-profit? If you are a for-profit are you an LLC? An S or C-corp? Are you guided by a social mission or are you hoping to build and sell the next Facebook?

An intriguing new option was available when Yoga by Numbers was formed—benefit corporations. Benefit corporations (sometimes known as bcorps), allow companies to prioritize positive social impact in addition to maximizing return to investors, and they were picking up steam. Big companies, such as Etsy, King Arthur Flour, Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot, Seventh Generation, and Klean Kanteen had become benefit corporations, as had lesser-known stalwarts of social justice like Greyston Bakery, GOOD, and the One World Play Project. More and more states were passing legislation allowing companies to incorporate as benefit corporations. The age of the raider was over: good corporate citizenship was becoming the new cool.

There was no doubt Yoga by Numbers would be a benefit corporation: the entity would allow us to pursue our social goals (making products that are good for the people who buy them; good for the people who make them; and good for the environment), while also responsibly building a profitable, sustainable business. While nonprofits play an important role in society, the nonprofit as an entity is sometimes exploited by those looking for tax or political loopholes. It is our belief at Yoga by Numbers that nonprofits should exist to provide essential services, increase equality, and ensure an educated, healthy society. Companies and organizations that generate profit (even by providing a positive product or service) should pay taxes and contribute economically to the country in which they operate and prosper. But the growing popularity of benefit corporations meant Yoga by Numbers could pursue both positive impact and profit without compromising any of our core values.

From our first day on the market we have made our mats in the USA, which gives us the ability to monitor labor conditions and ensure we are not exploiting factory workers. We use sustainable, biodegradable natural rubber, which means your mat won’t wind up in a landfill in 20 years (we are looking at you, Lululemon). It also means that mat you are touching with your bare hands, feet, and face doesn’t contain PVC or other petrochemicals. We think if you are going to put your bare body on something, you should feel sure it is healthy and safe. As we prepare to launch our iPad app and further increase access to yoga, we could not be prouder to say we have executed on our values from day one.

by Elizabeth M.

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