Project description

Business Owner: Davis Smith
Business: Cotopaxi
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Meet Davis Smith
Davis Smith founded Cotopaxi just over a year ago. If Cotopaxi stays on its current path, it will continue to thrive, just like every other business Davis has owned. He has been notorious in the business world. One of many key things he has done is help spread the word about Benefit Corporations. One of the ways he does this is by running his own, Cotopaxi.

From The Age of Four
Davis has spent most of his life living abroad. When he was four years old his parents moved him and his family to Latin America. “I grew up living abroad, spent all my childhood and teenage years living in the developing world. Then I’ve spent about half of my adult life in the developing world as well.” Davis has learned a lot from his experiences outside of the country. One thing he has gained is, “A feeling of responsibility to help those that were in poverty.” This has shaped Davis’ life, and helped him make many of his big decisions.

Key Figures
When Davis was an undergrad he read an article by a man named Steve Gibson. This man and this article had a huge influence on Davis, and he would end up keeping that article in the front of his binder throughout his college years—a place where he would see it every day. The article itself was about Steve and his wife. They sold their business, moved to the Philippines, and started a program to teach poor people in the Philippines how to start a business.

Davis later had the chance to meet Steve Gibson, after he chased him down at a social impact conference. “I had never met him before, but I recognized him. So I ran down the hallway, stuck my arm into the elevator before it closed and got in and started talking to him. He was acting flattered that I knew who he was – He’s a multimillionaire and has changed thousands of lives in the Philippines, and I’m a nobody, but he is acting so kind that I would even recognize him.” Steve invited Davis to meet with him at his office a few weeks later, which is where he told Davis, “If you really want to make a difference in the world, go become an entrepreneur.”

Just a few months later, Davis jumped into to the world of entrepreneurship headfirst. A year and a half ago he was the CEO of a company he had founded. At this point he had owned several businesses that were the most successful of their kind. He started reflecting on his experience with Steve Gibson and what he could do that would really mean something, and truly give back to the world. “It came to me that the one thing I know how to do is build businesses. If I could go build a business where we use a percentage of our profit to give back and make a difference, that’s going to be much more impactful than just doing something for myself.”

A Lasting Impact
“My goal was to build a movement; a business and a brand that would get people passionate about giving back and helping others.”

He took his ever-present passion for the outdoors, and turned it into something revolutionary. “In the outdoor space, no one has ever built a brand around humanity,” says Davis. “So I moved back to the US and started raising money for this.” He continues by telling us how he got the name, “Cotopaxi is the name of a volcano in Ecuador, we used to go backpacking there when I was younger, and it’s just an amazing place.” It proved to be perfect for the brand he was trying to build.

Entrepreneurial Advice
Want to start your own business? Listen up, Davis has some advice for you. He advises, “I would say, we have a responsibility to make the world better. Your business doesn’t have to have a social mission, but make sure you spend time yourself, and encourage your team, to give back.

My second piece of advice would be, you can do it. Entrepreneurship is a blast. Each of us has a desire to create inside of us. It takes some guts to do it, but it doesn’t mean go crazy and quit your job tomorrow. Be willing to take some risks and be disciplined about your ideation. You’re going to spend the next five to ten years of your life doing it, so make sure you put in enough time to be sure it’s the right thing.”