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Meet the Co-Founder of “Green Yelp”
It’s not everyday that a college thesis becomes a thriving business. But that’s just what happened to Morgan Berman after she graduated from Philadelphia University in 2014 with a master’s degree.
She’s the founder of My MilkCrate, an app that basically acts like Yelp for green, sustainable businesses. Looking for a farm-t0-table restaurant? How about an organic dry cleaner? My MilkCrate has got you covered. It’s now live in Philadelphia, Boston, Denver and Asheville, N.C. Soon it will be launching in Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and San Diego.
“I think a lot of us feel hopeless about things that we cannot control, like gun violence or poverty. There’s this sense of ‘I can’t do anything in my daily life to change that,’ ” said Berman. “But when it comes to the local economy, sustainability, pollution and urban life, that’s something that we can all take direct actions in everyday. We want to empower people to act on that sense of hope and optimism to make the kind of changes they want to see.”
Although it has just four employees, the company has already raised $130,000 in a convertible note and is currently in the midst of a $650,000 capital campaign. It even counts Philadelphia University President and Jiffy Lube co-founder Stephen Spinelli as an investor.
Although Berman won’t disclose the number of people currently using the app, she did say it’s in the “tens of thousands.” The company is generating revenue but “as a tech startup, profitability is something that happens usually a little further down the line,” Berman said.
The app has the most business listings in Philly, where approximately 1,500 local companies are searchable. That number is bound to increase soon as the company finalizes partnerships with organizations that certify businesses as sustainable and share their data with My MilkCrate.
Its also launching an ambassador program where “MilkCraters” will go on a grassroots campaign to sign up new businesses. (It’s free for businesses and the app is free for users to download.)
Another feature My MilkCrate is aiming to launch can help users determine how much of their budgets are spent in the sustainable economy. Berman calls it a “Fitbit for your wallet.”
“Now, you can tell how well you’re doing at matching your money to your values,” said Berman.
For Berman, being an entrepreneur runs in the family. When she was a young child growing up in Elkins Park, her father owned a scientific research foundation and her mother began shopping at thrift stores to save money. Then her mom published reviews about thrift shops in a few different Thrift Shop Maniac’s Guide books.
“She made a rating system with hangers, so four hangers with a heart is the best you can get,” recalled Berman. “She did all of the writing and editing and self-published, and distributed the book to Barnes & Noble, from the back of our minivan. She ended up on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, and her book was a New York Times bestseller regionally.”
Now an entrepreneur herself, Berman is hoping that My MilkCrate an attract 5 million users by 2019. To do so, she’s banking on more and more people caring about sustainability and choosing to spend money at green-friendly businesses.
“It’s becoming part of the general population’s consciousness like never before,” said Berman. “I think people are excited about it because it feels like this new possibility to be part of something really powerful and impactful that can benefit everyone.”