STAND with Kelly and Niki Tshibaka

Chris Rhodes on Veebs (Part 2)

May 15, 2024 Kelly Tshibaka and Niki Tshibaka
Chris Rhodes on Veebs (Part 2)
STAND with Kelly and Niki Tshibaka
More Info
STAND with Kelly and Niki Tshibaka
Chris Rhodes on Veebs (Part 2)
May 15, 2024
Kelly Tshibaka and Niki Tshibaka

Unlock the hidden power of your wallet as Chris Rhodes, the mastermind behind Veebs, joins us for a revealing conversation on how every purchase you make can echo your values. Chris walks us through the complex labyrinth of untangling unstructured data to create a beacon of transparency—a score that illuminates the true colors of a company's social and political stance. He insists on arming you, the consumer, with this crucial insight precisely when you're about to swipe your card, given the fluid nature of corporate ownership and ethical benchmarks. This episode is a game-changer for those who yearn to wield their purchasing power like a knight's sword, championing the causes they hold dear while holding businesses to account.

In the throes of corporate America's latest wave, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) is reshaping the frontier of investment and corporate intent—especially in Alaska's resource-rich landscape. We dissect the far-reaching tentacles of ESG metrics on financial strategies and the subtle recalibration of company priorities, with Veebs providing the looking glass. The app serves as more than just a window into the depths of corporate policy; it's a tool that enables informed decision-making at the most grassroots level. As we discuss the societal toll of striving for net-zero and the expansive impact of corporate decisions, such as those recently spotlighted by Planet Fitness, this episode is a must-listen for those ready to transform their consumer habits into a force for good.

Subscribe to never miss an episode of STAND:
YouTube
Apple Podcasts
Spotify

STAND's website: • StandShow.org
Follow Kelly Tshibaka on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyForAlaska
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyForAlaska
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyforalaska/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Unlock the hidden power of your wallet as Chris Rhodes, the mastermind behind Veebs, joins us for a revealing conversation on how every purchase you make can echo your values. Chris walks us through the complex labyrinth of untangling unstructured data to create a beacon of transparency—a score that illuminates the true colors of a company's social and political stance. He insists on arming you, the consumer, with this crucial insight precisely when you're about to swipe your card, given the fluid nature of corporate ownership and ethical benchmarks. This episode is a game-changer for those who yearn to wield their purchasing power like a knight's sword, championing the causes they hold dear while holding businesses to account.

In the throes of corporate America's latest wave, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) is reshaping the frontier of investment and corporate intent—especially in Alaska's resource-rich landscape. We dissect the far-reaching tentacles of ESG metrics on financial strategies and the subtle recalibration of company priorities, with Veebs providing the looking glass. The app serves as more than just a window into the depths of corporate policy; it's a tool that enables informed decision-making at the most grassroots level. As we discuss the societal toll of striving for net-zero and the expansive impact of corporate decisions, such as those recently spotlighted by Planet Fitness, this episode is a must-listen for those ready to transform their consumer habits into a force for good.

Subscribe to never miss an episode of STAND:
YouTube
Apple Podcasts
Spotify

STAND's website: • StandShow.org
Follow Kelly Tshibaka on
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyForAlaska
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyForAlaska
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyforalaska/

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to Stand. You're here with Kelly Chewbacca and myself, Josiah Chewbacca. We are on today with Chris Rhodes, founder of a company called Veebs. Mr Chris, one thing I'm wondering is what sort of problems did you run into during your creation and founding of Veebs?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I think it actually is a pretty good segue from what we were talking about before the break with marketing. That's where a lot of people get their information about what companies are doing, but the fact is that they're influencing in many different ways beyond marketing, and so to gather all the data that we needed was really the first challenge that we had to address. So how do we pull information about where their money is going, what organizations they're funding? All of that goes into the score, in addition to what they might be. That was the first challenge, and that data is all unstructured, so we have to pull it out of a number of different locations, then figure out how we're going to process it in a consistent way into a score. The second piece is how do you make it easy to use, right? So there's 300,000 products in the database now. We didn't want to just make a repository of rabbit holes, right. We wanted to make it easy for the customer to use at the point of sale. So we had to connect all the data we were gathering, all the scoring we were doing, to the barcodes that people could scan or search from. So those were the kind of the two biggest problems. The third is keeping things up to date.

Speaker 2:

Like I said, a lot of companies or a lot of brands change ownership on a pretty regular basis, in the food and alcohol industry in particular and so you see these companies change hands and then what they're focused on from a social and political perspective changes as well.

Speaker 2:

So we want to stay on top of that, and the reason is so that our customers can stay on top of it and we talk about.

Speaker 2:

One of the things that we were so surprised about when we started down this journey is just how much money these companies are spending on political and social things and so and that was really surprising to us and almost all of that actually gets passed through to the customer, and so we want to be sure that, as we learn about these companies, we make it easy for the customers to know what they're spending their money on and that it's going to pass through. It's not reclusive billionaires and dark money that are funding all this. It's you as a consumer buying from companies who then use their profits in different ways that you may not agree with. So it was really about kind of illuminating that and talking to the customer base, or potential customer base, about the power that they really have. Consumers spend $20,000 a year on groceries and alcohol and paper products and we want them to use that size of purchase power to best effect, or at least to the best effect that they want to use it for.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, and Veebs is an excellent product to do that. It's available on the Google Play Store and the Apple Store, so standouts, go ahead and download that. As someone who's looking into business, and a bit of a businessman myself, I definitely would not want many of my consumers knowing if I were both marketing-wise openly and then also behind the table funding initiatives and policies that they did not like, and an app like this would really scare me because it would enable a lot of my customer base to not buy my product and would really hurt my business. What would you say to the businesses that are losing their customer bases through the creation of this app by giving consumers the ability to control their purchasing power?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I think the first thing I would say is we really hope that people are using the app to reward companies that do the right thing. And so you know, we want those companies who match the kind of general public's values to succeed. We want companies to focus on price and quality more. We'd love to see them kind of exclusively focused on those things rather than some of this other stuff.

Speaker 2:

But the other kind of part of it to me is all we're doing is shining a light on what the companies are doing, and so if they want to continue to do those things, that's fine. That's up to them. It's a business decision on their part, but we don't want them to do it in a way that people can't see, and we want people to be knowledgeable and empowered in how they make their purchasing decisions. So if companies want to continue to do some of these, take some of these 50-50 political and social stands, that's absolutely fine with us. We just want to be sure that the consumer base knows it, and that's all we're doing is shining a light on it so we can better match customers with companies that reflect their values.

Speaker 3:

It's adding transparency back into a free market economy.

Speaker 2:

That's exactly right, right.

Speaker 3:

So we have corporate accountability. It's almost like putting consumer protection just really into literally the palm of your hand through the power of an app. We hear a lot, especially here in Alaska, about this move through corporate America of ESG, and for those in the audience who don't know what that is, it's this new movement in corporate America called environmental social governance and their metrics that they're using to determine investment decisions and even corporate decisions, like you're talking about, chris, where they're going to now put investment in corporate dollars. You might even see it in some of the marketing. Like you know, buy our socks and we'll put 50 cents towards climate change, but, as you said, that means that that 50 cents is actually just passed on to the consumer and prices just go up so that they're involved in environmental, social and governance initiatives, and then that affects things like their shareholder decisions, their board of directors, board of governors decisions.

Speaker 3:

Everybody is sort of evaluating these companies based on their ESG metrics. It has also done things like really dissuaded people from developing resource development, whether it's oil, gas or mining in Alaska, because we don't fall high on the ESG scale, though. They're developing mineral development and resource development in other parts of America, just not in Alaska. So one of the things I hear you saying is it sounds like Veebs is really pushing back against this ESG trend by pushing this transparency, by pushing the ability of the consumer to say, actually we just want to restore the freedom of capitalism and free market economy. Did I capture that right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think that's right. I think you know what we're doing is just making sure that if a company is going to spend money on those things, that everyone knows that they're spending money on that and what the implications are. You know, you talked about climate. To me that's that's a pretty good example. Companies are talking about climate, this climate, that you know what is our commitment to the climate emergency, and I think that it's just gone overboard. You know, I saw a study by McKinsey recently. I mean, that's not a conspiracist, that's McKinsey. The consulting firm said last year the global economy spent $5.7 trillion, with the T dollars, on net zero goals and that's expected to go up to $9 trillion per year for 30 years. That's basically 5% of the global economy spent on net zero goals and we're going to spend $300 trillion over the next 30 years. And it seems like an overblown reaction to a problem that's maybe not all the way defined yet, and I'm a business-friendly guy about the environment.

Speaker 2:

But the things that are important to me from an environmental perspective there's like six or seven Soil, health, water cleanliness. A bunch of other stuff comes ahead of global warming or climate change, and the entire economy is changing because of that, and it's changing in a lot of. The reason that it's changing is because companies are pushing that. And so to me, you know, let's be clear about what companies are talking about, let's be clear about the types of influence that they're trying to peddle. And you know, from my perspective, alaskans, for instance, might want to push back on our companies, kind of ginning up a little bit too much furor over this one topic at the expense of, you know, maybe their, their prosperity for sure, and maybe even some other environmental issues. So that's, that's what we're trying to do is to say, you know, if you're worried about those topics, then see what the companies are doing, see what they're saying and see, see how they're influencing, and just make sure that what you're doing, what you're where your money's going, aligns with your own beliefs.

Speaker 3:

Well, and with trillions of dollars on the price tag, then, like you said, maybe it's not just inflation that's driving up our prices, it's these social agendas and quite possibly social agendas that we don't align with.

Speaker 3:

We just earlier this year had an issue that originated here in Alaska and then made national headlines about a woman in Fairbanks who saw a transgender man shaving of all things in the woman's locker room at Planet Fitness. And then she exposed that on social media and it went national. And then we subsequently saw a significant stock drop and enrollment drop of Planet Fitness memberships because people saw that exposed and said we don't want our little girls there was actually a little girl in the locker room at the time we don't want our little girls exposed to men in the locker rooms at Planet Fitness. And I agree with what you're saying, that if you didn't catch that news cycle and you didn't know, then you don't know that even afterwards Planet Fitness they suspended the woman's membership and continue to maintain that it's okay for men to be in locker rooms with little girls and that's their corporate policy. Well, if that's not your personal policy, if you were to bring that ice cream home, then Kelly Spock would put that in the trash.

Speaker 3:

My little girl will not be in a locker room with a man and I would suspend my membership. So that's what Veebs allows you to do. So, standouts, we are saying you want, you want to get this app. It's that, um, uh, it's called Veebs V E E B S. You can get it on the app store or Google play. Anywhere that you download apps, we recommend it. Scan barcodes and then they're going to be moving on to other things like planet fitness, budweiser, airlines, et cetera. This is a new app, so you're on the cutting edge and, chris, we so.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for being with us today and we're so glad to have had you on our episode. We'll catch us next week on stand. You can catch all of our episodes, stand showorg. We invite you to subscribe. Follow us on social media and thank you so much for being with us. It's been a great episode and we'll catch you next week. Oh, no, wait, we're just going to be back after the break. So we will catch you next week, but we'll be back after the break. Josiah and I are going to have a conversation. Thanks, chris.

Power of Consumer Purchasing Influence
ESG Trend and Veebs' App Discussion