Hugh & Crye
Pranav Vora was working as a management consultant when inspiration struck. He was shopping for clothes and struggled to find the right fit. “I was just wondering why it was hard to find shirts that actually fit my body off the rack,” said Pranav. Not wanting to spend money on a custom fit, he decided to look into the problem himself. Pranav ended up taking some sewing and pattern-drafting classes and discovered that many brands use a cookie-cutter approach that produces ill-fitting, generic shirts. “It was almost like peeling back an onion,” he said. “I just learned one thing after another and kept following that trail.” The trail eventually led Pranav to start Hugh & Crye, an apparel brand that focuses on better-fitting menswear. Hugh & Crye offers 12 unique fits to appeal to different body types and, as a direct-to-consumer company, it’s been online from the very beginning. “We didn’t feel the need at the time to open a store, so everything we did was online,” said Pranav. “It was incredibly important because that was the lifeblood of our business.”
At launch, Hugh & Crye used Google Ads to reach people searching for fitted shirts online and Google Analytics to monitor and optimize its digital presence. “It is very helpful to see our traffic and our site performance and learn what’s working and what’s not,” said Pranav. “Google products have always been very useful and very core to the business. I can’t remember running the business without them.” Today, the Hugh & Crye team also uses G Suite apps like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, and Drive to communicate more efficiently and to stay organized.
Thanks to Google’s reach, Hugh & Crye has customers in all 50 states and in 30 countries around the world. “We’re seeing more and more opportunities to launch and track performance of new products with the help of Google tools,” said Pranav, who is actively invested in the improvement of his company’s products and ethos. The brand is committed to fighting unsustainable manufacturing practices and regularly donates to organizations that provide food and clothing to families in Washington, D.C. “It’s important for us to figure out ways to work with our customers to help people in need,” said Pranav. “We’re trying to incentivize people to look into their closets and give as well.” For Pranav, the continued success of Hugh & Crye is a testament to the power of identifying a real consumer problem and solving it. “We provide a product and service that our customers appreciate — it’s a good feeling,” said Pranav.
The National Center for Transgender Equality
Founded in 2003, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), based in Washington, D.C., is the country’s leading trans-advocacy organization. Founded by trans activist Mara Keisling and other supporters who recognized the need for policy change, the NCTE works to end discrimination and violence against transgender people and their communities through public education and advocacy. By establishing a powerful transgender- advocacy presence in the nation’s capital, the NCTE is able to provide helpful resources, including important legal information and tips for allies on how to take action. With so much information to spread and so many people to reach, the internet is a vital tool for the NCTE to educate the public, garner support, and field donations. “Our policy team does a lot of really incredible work,” said Jay Wu, the NCTE’s director of communications, “but it’s hard to get the word out there without the internet.” The organization uses Google Ads to reach not only the transgender community but also its allies and the public at large. “We don’t have a huge ad budget, so whatever we do is purely digital,” said Jay.
The NCTE uses Google Analytics to figure out which resources people are using most, such as its ID Documents Center. This one-stop hub helps transgender people update federal documents such as birth certificates, passports, and Social Security records with their correct gender markers and names. Internally, the NCTE uses G Suite tools like Drive and Docs to share and store data and information. “We have so many text-heavy documents that go out. We’ve really found G Suite to be the best method,” said Jay.
The organization’s digital efforts, including its use of Google tools, have helped it reach thousands of supporters, grow its programs, and spread its message. The NCTE currently employs 20 people and is in the process of bringing additional team members on board as it continues to grow. The organization also recently launched its Action Fund, a nonprofit political organization fighting for transgender equality at the local, state, and federal levels. The Action Fund will take center stage as the NCTE team works with the newest congressional class and looks toward 2020.
Though there’s still plenty of work to be done, the NCTE is excited about its progress. “In the last 16 years, things have changed so much,” said Jay. “We’re really focused on making sure that people understand that trans people are their family members, friends, and neighbors. That kind of change is every bit as important as any kind of policy change we make.”
12 full-time employees and 3 part-time employees.
Positive change is happening in the nation’s capital, and Thrive DC is at the heart of it. Founded in 1979 as a dinner program for homeless women, the nonprofit today is a comprehensive, professionally staffed organization that serves more than 2,000 men, women, and children every year. Based out of Columbia Heights, they are the neighborhood’s only “one-stop shop” for people experiencing homelessness, unemployment, housing instability, and food insecurity. They provide a variety of services, including meals, showers, laundry, re-entry support, job training, and substance-abuse counseling. In short, “we work to provide stability,” explains Alicia Horton, Executive Director at Thrive DC. “And with our help, clients can take their first steps toward independence and self-sufficiency.”
Thrive DC maximizes impact with digital tools. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to bring visitors to their website, spread the word about their mission, and attract both donors and volunteers. “We really saw our outreach grow dramatically with AdWords,” Alicia says. “We went from 2,000 website visitors a year to over 12,000,” a six-fold increase. “Fast forward to today, and we have more volunteers than we can handle,” she adds. The organization now has sufficient volunteers to organize mail delivery for over a thousand clients without home addresses. They also take advantage of G Suite tools, such as Gmail and Google Calendar, to efficiently manage their volunteer operations. And with insights from Google Analytics, they can optimize their online presence, including their donation pages. “In 2017, our end of the year online giving increased by 61 percent!” Alicia notes.
Thrive DC is determined to prevent and end homelessness in the nation’s capital, and the team shows no signs of slowing down. In-kind donations have doubled year-over-year, allowing the organization to further scale their operations. They currently provide life-changing support to 250 people every day and serve over 150,000 meals each year. "We're committed to addressing the real challenges of our client community," Alicia affirms. "At Thrive DC, we provide our clients real hope and a real chance at getting back on their feet."
Long-distance relationships can be tough, especially if the flowers you send your loved one arrive dried and dead. Massive overhead costs and a disjointed business model mean that huge, multi-national florists can't always guarantee consistent quality, undermining the impact of a loving gesture. After experiencing this firsthand, Ajay Kori and Jeff Sheely saw an opportunity to revolutionize the industry and opened UrbanStems on Valentine's Day 2014. “We’re building a flower company that solves the issues they experienced firsthand,” Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Bates explains. By creating a seed-to-door supply chain—one that cuts out the middleman and sources directly from farms—UrbanStems passes on savings to the customer while also providing a better overall customer experience.
The only way to send UrbanStems’ bouquets and gifts is online. Because of this, “we’re really prioritizing the customer’s web experience and investing a ton in digital marketing to grow our business,” Lauren remarks. Today, digital marketing comprises 80 percent of the company’s marketing budget, and it's yielding major results. AdWords, Google's advertising program, helps UrbanStems attract customers in an already crowded industry, while Google Analytics gives laser focus to their online campaigns. “Those tools are really important for understanding the granular details of our customers’ behaviors and making data-driven decisions to scale our business,” Lauren says. And for a company that strives to be lean and scrappy, “it’s been an incredible advantage to have access to a free tool like Analytics that can give us so much data,” she adds. Google Tag Manager also equips UrbanStems with the robust performance-tracking capabilities of a much larger company, while G Suite tools Gmail, Docs, Drive, and Calendar keep their administrative work as fast as their business model.
UrbanStems is blossoming with year-over-year growth of over 300 percent. They currently operate in five cities across the U.S. and are expanding to more this year. As they grow, they continue to have a positive impact on everyone in their community. For the farms that are their partners, the company remains committed to providing great working conditions. And for their customers, they deliver happiness with each fresh bouquet. “At our core, we’re in the business of making people happy,” Lauren says.