Episode 19: Conservation Maven Logan Avant

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone, we are in another episode of Mavens Do It Better and I'm super excited today to have a lovely fellow named Logan Avant, who is the founder and CEO of Cobo Bottle and also WildSwell, make sure and say that right. We, gosh, we met a while ago in Oceanside, California, one of my favorite places, where my mom and dad have been going for years and we met at one of the Thursday markets when you had a booth there. So Logan why don't you say hi to everybody.

Logan Avant:  Hey there everybody. Happy to be here and to be having a conversation with you. And like I was saying before, before we hopped on here, it was a, one of those experiences in meeting Heather was, uh, it was profound and full of joy to be quite frank. We were I think chatting and hugging and taking pictures together in the first minute or two that we met somehow, but, you know, and I think um, value is had there in every conversation we've had since.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. Well awesome. Well, yeah, and you know, uh, the, the bottles are so cool and I bought one which was great. You know, so this market, Logan had a, had a booth and, uh, with, with their products and stuff, and so I got to learn a little bit more about where that started and came from. And in the meantime, since we met a while ago, um, you know, you have this wonderful new organization, foundation as well that has come about. So you've got all kinds of cool things going on. So tell everybody a little bit about Cobo and how, um, how that came about.

Logan Avant:  Yeah, it actually, um, it actually started with WildSwell.

Heather Newman:  Okay. oh, I didn't know that.

Logan Avant:  Yeah, about two years ago and I had this idea, um, while I was living in New York, and then shortly thereafter I was in Greenwich, Connecticut area for about a year and a half and I was working in Fortune 500 Ops finance. I was the controller for all the manufacturing facilities, uh, for Danone, the Danone Group in North America. And so I had been in manufacturing of food for about 10 years with that company. And uh, I was sort of done. Um, we were talking, you know, what a great company, especially now they're the largest B Corp in the world, um, and they're actually now one of my clients too, after the acquisition of a company called White Wave, which makes all the Silk mill products, Silk products and dairy alternatives that you see out there on the shelf. So anyway, I left the company and took a sabbatical for about a year, bought a house in San Diego, Oceanside, California a couple of years ago. And I had this idea that I would start a company that produced products that gave back to the world and to the people. And uh, it's, it's mission was really to improve the quality of all things that it touched through its value stream from sourcing of raw materials, where it was produced, to the culture of the companies that are producing it with us. And uh, the organizations that and the people that are impacted by, um, by the products. And then obviously, uh, those customers that hold the product in their hand. And so with that in mind, we developed, went down the road of, well, what kind of product and what kind of ethos and culture do we want to shoot for. And we spent a year working on that, just that alone and took us down two really formal directions, which was purpose and a beautiful product. And so it was clear to me at that point we needed to create two organizations in two teams that focus their expertise, uh, in each direction. And then we created an in between to bridge those two organizations called, uh, the Live Give Heal Program. And so that's actually what you see on our products is Live Give Heal, uh, representing our sort of mantra, if you will, to live life to the fullest, give back to those in need and heal the earth's challenges. And so that program bridges the two companies and executes the projects, fund raising and supporting through board involvement and so on with our partner or other nonprofit partner organizations that we support like a, an inner city boarding school. It's tuition free in Chicago called the Ryan Banks Academy to a, an organization called Backyard Sports Cares in Westchester County, New York that focuses on afterschool programs for, uh, underprivileged or underserved, I should say, uh, elementary and middle school students, the majority fall into the autism spectrum. We also do a significant amount of work locally there in Oceanside really around environmental awareness and some schoolhouse programs, uh, that bring awareness to the environment and our impact every day, uh, as humans. Trying to think big about how to be smaller about our impact on the earth every day in our choices that we make. behind all that it was a lot of time spent with some really brilliant, in my opinion, brilliant people, much more brilliant than I, putting these ideas together and willing to join me in this vision. And Heck, here we are. We've got a product. It's making money. It's some really, really rad projects. Um, and you know, when you met, when we met, I think we might have launched our product two months prior to that.

Heather Newman:  Is that right? Wow. And here we are. My goodness. Yeah. I mean, the products are gorgeous and it's Cobobottle.org for those if you want to while you're listening to check it out. Yeah, they're, they're just gorgeous. And um, and they're easy to use and wonderful. You know, so, you know, that's so great. And so, I love, I love mine and I know you've come out with so many sort of different designs now too, which is super cool, colors and all that kind of stuff. Just a little bit more.

Logan Avant:  New stuff from a design innovation perspective, but we're also about to, so even in the beginning when we launched the product itself, we knew we didn't want to be a bottle company, which is a weird thing to say because it's Cobo Bottle and it is a bottle company. But really the end game for us is so much bigger. It's building a collaborative network of customers, merchants and service providers for coffee, tea, smoothies, etc. Building relationships with them and our suppliers and the customers. So, what I mean is, is we're about to enter into the tech and device and app industry that comes with the bottle. And so, this was always the end game, so what you see now is just a small stepping stone to what's to come and we've now got investment dollars behind with a group of really incredible investors that want to scale the business, um, with us, but it's more of a long-term growth and not blow this thing up for sale. It's more about building a community, a real, a real community amongst service providers in the Starbucks of the world, if you will, and the small coffee shops of the world, coffee, tea, smoothie, and then also having your kobo bottle app that you open up and see how many, uh, credits that you've racked up using your bottle at each service provider and coffee shop, if you will. And then you can drag and drop to donate those credits, which is actually money, into projects that you're passionate about. This is the future in my opinion.

Heather Newman:  I love it. No, I, I completely agree with you. I love that. I love that micro exchange, you know, the micro, you know, when blockchain and, and you know, the digital currencies have come out, right? It was like everybody was like, ooh, what's that? That's scary. And that's weird gamer stuff, you know. But I love that we're in a place where we're thinking about that stuff where we could give a donation, you know, easily from an app and I love it that you're having it to where so I bring my Cobo Bottle somewhere and because I use it because I'm not using the paper and plastic of the place, but I'm using my sustainable bottle, I get credit for doing that. that is awesome. I love it.

Logan Avant:  Yeah, it would be with partnered merchants that, imagine we don't have the solution developed yet and that's what we're working on now and you know, I'm not afraid to share undeveloped technology and ideas about this because in my opinion, this is, it shouldn't be a secret. This shouldn’t be what everyone is doing to make an impact. And um, you know, if some other bottle company beats us to it, so be it, but I doubt that they are going to, they're going to take it down the road where it's not for them to make a billion dollars, it's for them to give a billion dollars, then to make a billion impacts. It's us, we're doing it for the right reasons. And um, it's a, it's a very beautiful thing and it's not so far-fetched, I think in the immediate future.

Heather Newman:  That's amazing. Will you talk about the partnership that you have with Plastic Oceans Foundation and what they're doing? I know they're an amazing organization too. Will you talk about that a little bit.

Logan Avant:  They are, yeah. so Plastic Ocean has published a documentary a couple years and a half maybe ago now. Gosh, how time flies. And so, we had made some donations to them back when just after production of, or sorry release of their beautiful documentary, A Plastic Ocean, uh, since then, and since our involvement with them, we've been working on, um, a few things, uh, which I don't know if you know they're headquartered out of Malibu. Malibu took a pretty hard hit. Julie is out there and her house actually burned during the fires. Unfortunate, but I know, right? it's so, you know, things have kind of slowed down as they focused efforts, uh, towards some other, other, other ventures outside of production of a new documentary. And so they've gone down this really cool route of developing a program for schools that is an entrepreneurship program that you can bring into a school. They're focusing on the state of New York and offer the students this program and through that program they'll sell sustainable things like bottles, let's say. Right. And it shows them how to build a business around sustainable products and offers them the sort of an end to end map of how to do that and how cool that is to be able to access students at a young age and show them that, yeah, okay, if you're dreaming big, dream big in a sustainable way on your future, within, you know, your future occupation or maybe even the direction you want to go in and the collegiate aspects of furthering your education. So they're, they're working on a program like that, that, uh, that program that we're supporting them on but not quite as involved in the last few months as we were before.

Heather Newman:  Sure. No, that makes sense. We've been talking about, you know, I run two businesses. You run two businesses. How do you find the life balance there my friend?

Logan Avant:  Oh man, it's three businesses now. So, my clients, I only take on clients that are benefit or B Corp or currently and actively engaged in changing the game. And what I actually found out is that I was kind of good at consulting businesses on how to operate a little differently. Um, and so Danone, uh, hired me recently, uh, as a consultant to help them through a big integration as they acquired this plant based food company. White Wave. And so I, I do projects like that. I Also work on projects in other areas and industries. But uh, then you have Cobo Bottle and WildSwell. So how the heck, I don't, rigor around my schedule and respect for myself. If I'm, if I may be frank, so got to make time for myself, if I don't have that I'm lost to be honest. And so every day in the morning, um, I have a routine that I follow one of, one of a few that puts a smile on my face and uh, reinforces the fact that I can do it, whatever that is and probably much like you, I have my days scheduled from about seven in the morning to nine at night, scheduled out in blocks of 30 minutes.

Heather Newman:  Yup, pretty much.

Logan Avant:  Sometimes greater than an hour is, it becomes, I think that hour and 15, hour and 20-minute mark, Things aren't quite as productive as they were in the first hour. So, I try and keep conversations as a rule to about an hour with follow-ups regardless later in the day or the next day or what have you. But really about that rigor of time management and that morning and the end of the day commitment to myself.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. No, I think we have to. It's Just like, yeah. And I do. I do believe in the morning ritual, you know, I think I have a few as well, but I think that there's like certain elements that are the same, but I feel like that is a grounding element for me that I, I have to, you know, click into or else I just don't make it, you know? And help, you know. I mean, you and I both have teams of people that we work with on different, the different businesses and stuff and it's, it, I don't know, Life is busy for everybody, you know, and there's a lot of noise in the world. So yeah,

Logan Avant:  It keeps us level, I think, uh, you know, I either get in an early morning surf session, yoga session or in all honesty just open the sliding door in my room and meditate listening to the birds for 30 minutes. That's my path for the day.

Heather Newman:  That's awesome. I was wondering in, uh, are you. So are you, are you from New York then. Where were you born?

Logan Avant:  Well, no, you know, I am sitting in my aunt's office right now. Um, you know, something funny is she's got a picture on the wall of me naked in the bathtub.

Heather Newman:  Of course she does. All good aunts have that picture.

Logan Avant:  But honestly, I'm sitting in one of the houses that's been in my life for my entire life, which is almost 40 years now. So I'm about as close to home as I could be. But uh, I grew up in Texas in a little town called Port Arthur. It's on the border of Louisiana and Texas. You can follow that border all the way down until you hit the Gulf of Mexico. That's where I grew up.

Heather Newman:  Okay. Gosh, that's cool. Yeah. I didn't realize that. Yeah, I spend a lot of time in New Orleans. I love that. I love that city. So I'm back there quite a bit and uh,

Logan Avant:  New Orleans is amazing.

Heather Newman:  yeah, it's such a good city, right? It's just such an eclectic mix of so many wonderful, amazing things. So yeah, I try and get down there a lot. Are you a, are you a music person? I know you're an outdoorsy kind of guy. Do you, are you a music head too?

Logan Avant:  I'm into music, you know, I'm really into the music, I don't somehow have the mind, um, to keep up with like artists or names of songs and so on. I don't even know, like I'll watch a movie and not know the name of it ten minutes later, I'm one of those people. I don't follow sports or anything like that, but music is a huge part of my life actually. I listen to a lot of uh, jazz music. I'll listen to or you know, something typically is soothing and, and chill with a positive angle on it. Reggae is on the top for me. Gábor Szabó is an artist from the sixties that is just incredible.

Heather Newman:  Oh, my goodness. So as far as both organizations, how many folks are, how many folks work with you?

Logan Avant:  So total, I think we've got 14 positions two of them open. So right now I've got 12 folks spread out all over the US. Most of them are in the San Diego county area. Got some in San Fran. Sorry, some in, one in Monterey, you know, one in Orange County, five and San Diego county. A couple east coast still.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Got to have some people maybe out on the east coast. That's a good thing. I can't get enough

Logan Avant:  Nice portfolio of talent and culture. So much value brought from having um, a team of mixed cultures, um, and upbringings and backgrounds and ethnicity. I think our team is 80 plus percent female and um, I think the majority of the team was born and raised in the northeast, New York or the Long Island area.

Heather Newman:  Okay. That's awesome. That's great.

Logan Avant:  All of them raised somewhere near the coast surprisingly. I just realized that as we talked through it.

Heather Newman:  Oh yeah, there is something of an affinity of people who are raised on the coast, I think, you know, for sure. I mean, I was born in the Midwest, but I like raced to the coast at some point and haven't looked back. Yeah. Um, and I know. So with WildSwell, you fund different philanthropic projects. Is there something going on that you can share? I know you shared a little bit about some of the education. Is there anything else that's coming up that you want people to know about? That they can get involved in?

Logan Avant:  Yeah, we've really started to turn on the gas for, um, a schoolhouse program. It's, it really is what I was discussing earlier that we were working on with A Plastic Ocean and we had started with our own version of this that we executed up in Portland, Oregon area, Lake Oswego, I'm not sure if you're familiar with that area. Beautiful area of Oregon where we did a schoolhouse project. Essentially instead of students doing fundraisers where they sell popcorn covered in sugar or candy, they sell Cobo Bottles. And, um, what they do is, and we don't make any money off of these programs, what we do is we give back all of our profits, which is, uh, somewhere around 12 to 14 dollars depending on what the students asked for on how they want the bottle customized and stuff on it. We just, you know, we go through it and they sell a bunch of bottles and at the end we write them a check and they get to donate that money into the next years academics or whatever programs that they have going on and often times they want to because we offer them an option to support another organization. So they can, you know, hedge into that 12, let's call it dollars and say I want half of that to go to an underprivileged school in Chicago. And In fact, that Lake Oswego school did choose to give 50 percent of the funds raised to Ryan Banks Academy, which was, gosh, such a beautiful thing because they're supporting students their own age that are underprivileged and sometimes without a home, sometimes in very at risk environments. And connecting that was one of the most beautiful things and powerful to show them that these products exist. Companies like Cobo Bottle of WildSwell exist and that they can be part of these organizations, um, and build them even later in life. And so we tried to, um, really be integrated in that message that anything's possible and you can actually do good with your efforts every single day and when you build companies you can do very, very good. Um, and I don't think that the last couple of generations, I'm not suggesting that our prior generations weren't thinking that way, I just don't know that we were as aware of the impact that we have a through the production and offering, um, of products and goods in

Heather Newman:  Sure. I mean, well, the proof is that, you know, there's giant gargantuan balls of plastic in our oceans and our, you know, the evidence is there to point to that right? So not to point any fingers, but like where the heck did that come from?

Logan Avant:  There's this statistic that I read today that it takes approximately a thousand years for mother nature to create an inch of topsoil and yet (dog bark), pardon the background, and it takes us, you know, we're just dumping stuff into mother earth's soils. Uh, and yet at the same time, it's going to take her a thousand years just to create another inch of top soil that's fresh and new. So there's something that needs to be done, not only in our oceans.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. Who's the pooch?

Logan Avant:  The pooch is my, um, funny story, but she's a black lab that I haven't seen in years, was my grandparents' dog that I got for them back in the day and they have since past and she hangs out here.

Heather Newman:  That's amazing.

Logan Avant:  I haven't seen her in years, and I was just so happy to see her, and she ran up and gave me a big snuggle hug. She's such a squish muffin.

Heather Newman:  They don't forget, you know.

Logan Avant:  sorry about the background. Let me see if I can

Heather Newman:  No worries. We're very, um, things happen around here. Sometimes we, you know, I'm sometimes outside and depending on where we are, we do this wherever we're working.

Logan Avant:  Well she's with us now.

Heather Newman:  What's her name?

Logan Avant:  Christine. My grandfather insisted we call her a human name. Absolutely adorable.

Heather Newman:  That's fantastic. Well, hi Christine.

Logan Avant:  Hard to tell him he couldn't do it because he was 80 something years old and you know.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, pretty much at that point. Her name is Christine, so there you go. Well to sort of to close us out. Thank you for sharing all of that. It's so cool to like, you know, have met you and then, you know, we've talked a little bit along the way and then I was like, oh yeah. And thanks for reaching out to it was I was like, oh yeah, let's talk because I know you're doing such cool things and I love, I love the philosophies of the company and I just, oh, also listeners, it's just if you have, you know, businesses and, and, one you should just get a bottle because they're awesome. But like if you have, you know, your businesses that are looking to connect with an organization with two, three organizations like this who are doing good, definitely reach out. We'll have um, Logan's stuff in the show notes of how to get ahold of him and how to find the bottles and learn more about WildSwell and all of that. But, you know, I guess if you have something, piece of advice, something that sparks you, you know, we talk about mavens being experts and like kind of how you got to where you are. Is there something that is like your, your little? I'm making motions with my fingers that you can't see, it's that one little nugget that you want to share with folks?

Logan Avant:  Yeah, I would say that if there is a spark inside of you that feels right and has driven you to or driven by something that feels a lot like purpose, to follow that and invest in it. Invest whether that be your time, your money, wrangle your friends into it, and they'll tell you if it's crazy or not. And you'll find out pretty quickly I think if you are crazy, and I'm almost certain that I am and my friends will validate that, but crazy in a good way. And I think that, uh, if you can find purpose in something that you're passionate about, follow that because that thrives passion. And passion is where real productivity, in my opinion, productivity and output and good things happen with purpose and passion together. And uh, it's, it's hard for me to imagine saying that now when I was driven by, um, an ambition to create organizations that made money for the last 15 years. And now I'm in a place where I want to create organizations backed by purpose and passion and gosh, it turns out that they make money too.

Heather Newman:  How about that? How bout them apples? Oh, that's awesome. Thank you for that Logan. Well, I appreciate you.

Logan Avant:  I'll leave you with one last thing, we've got other companies and so on. We did, we did activate a really cool program, a corporate program with a bottle company, Cobo Bottles, so you know, if uh, you or, you know, anyone out there that's, that's looking to host an event with something customized or a corporate gift or something we run a pretty cool program around that too, that we're pretty excited about and doing it a little different than those, those other folks out there because we give back a lot. (Christine barking) So we Give back a lot in those projects and come back to the teams and those teams, uh, what impact that they've made.

Heather Newman:  Awesome. I love the metric. Metrics are good always too right, so that's awesome and doing good. So yay. Well you're amazing and wonderful. Thank you so much for being on Logan. I really appreciate it. It's nice to hear your voice too

Logan Avant:  I'm of the same mind about you. Let's speak again soon. I hope to see you in Oceanside sometime soon.

Heather Newman:  I know, I'll be happy to do a surf session with you at some point, so that'll be awesome. Okay, cool. All right, well everybody, that was another episode of Mavens Do It Better. Thank you. Have a great day.

Heather Newman

Heather Newman is an award-winning marketing maven, technology entrepreneur and an epic connector that brings many worlds together. She has extensive experience marketing products and services for Enterprise businesses, startups and emerging markets. Heather builds plans and processes that are nimble, human and different. She is an adept storyteller and is passionate about growth for both employees and the corporate bottom-line. Heather hails from the arts and the bulk of her career has been working with the largest technology companies in the world (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, NetApp, Hewlett Packard, and Dell). Her nineteen years of experience working at technology companies and building global high-tech marketing strategy has driven millions of dollars of revenue and multiple award-winning campaigns. She has led global marketing teams for many technology companies including AvePoint, IT Unity & KnowledgeLake. Heather was a part of the original Microsoft SharePoint Marketing team. During her tenure, she helped launch multiple versions of the product, build the SharePoint Partner Ecosystem and conceived of and produced the first three Microsoft SharePoint Conferences. Creative Maven has produced thousands of global marketing campaigns and events. Currently CM is focusing on go to market strategies for Microsoft and its partners as well as a new site sister site launching in 2015 called Marketingfixer.com. Heather also serves as Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Content Panda, an innovative technology startup looking to actively disrupt how content is delivered inside software.