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State of the state: Startups

Wouldn't it be nice to know that your holiday shopping dollars are doing some good in the world?

That's the idea behind Tuggl.com, a website that helps consumers support their favorite community organizations through the businesses that sponsor them.

Here's how it works: Consumers can add businesses that support causes that speak to them and rate how socially responsible they are. Businesses can add themselves to the site, share the nonprofits or causes they support and benefit from free exposure. In turn, nonprofits have the opportunity to play a role in supporting their business sponsors.

"The core of what we're doing is the Tuggl rating," co-founder and CEO Matt Buchanan says. "It is a quantifiable number that identifies and combines how well businesses treat their customers and the support they offer their community. It is a statistical comparison to help customers see how a company stacks up against its competitors."

Tuggl posts an ever-changing list of the highest rated businesses on their home page along with featured news and listings of events sponsored by the organization.

In 2005, Buchanan founded a company in Dallas to help small home-service businesses advertise online. Through the experience, he realized that given more information, people ultimately choose businesses that support good causes over businesses that don't. He decided to move to Colorado two years ago.

"There are a lot of good businesses and a lot of bad businesses; it's hard to tell who's who," Buchanan says. "There are plenty of them out there that believe in a healthy community and a healthy world, and a lot of them are struggling right now."

Buchanan believes they wouldn't struggle if people knew of the good they do for the community.

Littleton-based Hero's PETS is featured on Tuggl. It sells all-natural and eco-friendly dog supplies and works with local shelters for dog and cat rescue along with charities like Hope for Animals-Clear Creek Rescue and Good Samaritan.

"It's perfect for anybody to join and advertise because people who go on there are looking for a conscientious business, not just a good price," said Hero's owner Chelsea Kent. "Consumers like that are hard to find."

Other nonprofits that support the website include Big City Mountaineers, Boulder Valley Women's Health Center and Boulder County AIDS Project.

Dan Hanley, director of development and communications for Boulder County AIDS Project, says the site is a great way for nonprofits to thank corporations that go out on a limb to support their causes.

"Corporate giving has really dropped in the last year," Hanley says. "When companies go off the deep end to support us, it's incredibly important to let them know how grateful we are for their support."

Buchanan says the next step is to really prove the concept in the Denver/Boulder area, and then potentially enter other markets, adding, "I hope we're providing something of value and people are seeing us as a good thing for the community."

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Patricia Kaowthumrong

Patricia Kaowthumrong is a student at the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Contact her at Patricia.Kaowthumrong@colorado.edu.

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