Blake Mycoskie and TOMS

Published 03 Jul 2023
Reference 6820
Region Global
Length 2 page(s)
Language English

In 2006, Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS (originally called TOMS Shoes), pioneering a “buy-one-give-one” model that integrated philanthropy into the business strategy. His innovative approach was an instant hit among consumers and received wide recognition as a promising way for companies to achieve social impact. By 2014, TOMS had sold and given away over 10 million shoes, but some major concerns and challenges had emerged. Blake wondered if it was time to reinvent TOMS – but how?

Teaching objectives

This short case is designed to facilitate a thoughtful discussion related to impact entrepreneurship and social impact. It highlights the importance of having an appropriate impact strategy in addition to a sound business model when building such ventures. In examining TOMS “buy-one-give-one” model, students come to appreciate its potential as well as its limitations – simply put, why the best of intentions and a good story may not achieve the most desirable social outcomes and impact. The case shows why it is critical to be diligent as well as humble in first understanding societal needs, and then measure progress and seek feedback on how the model works in practice. It also prompts debate on how fast to scale up, and the appropriate impact evaluation and management to ensure that breadth of impact does not come at the expense of depth, nor have unintended consequences.

  • Impact Entrepreneurship
  • Social Impact
  • Cause-based Marketing
  • Effective Philanthropy
  • Impact Evaluation
  • Business Model
  • Impact Strategy
  • Impact Management
  • Impactful Careers
  • Social Innovation
  • Sustainable Development
  • Innovation
  • Poverty
  • Inequality
  • Q32023