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Wine bottles stored on rack (Jupiterimages/Getty Images)
Wine bottles stored on rack (Jupiterimages/Getty Images)

Small Business Briefing

Wine maker gives 100 per cent of profit to charity Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Pairing good wine with a generous act

The number of wines at the LCBO vying for attention is staggering. So what can a company do to stand out? Sure, a sleek bottle, clever name or sparkling review in The Globe and Mail can help a wine producer make its mark. But one small company is going to extreme lengths to differentiate itself: It’s giving 100 per cent of its profit to charity.

The Little Grape That Could is a Toronto-based non-profit that runs on the steam of volunteers. Since it debuted its wines in the LCBO in July, 2012, they’ve sold 20,000 bottles and donated $20,000 in profit to 28 charities across Ontario.

Whether it's the Torrontés ($11.95) or the Cabernet Sauvignon ($11.95), each bottle has its own code on the back of its label, which consumers can use to select the charity of their choice on the company’s website. The bottles also feature real people who have inspired others. Click here to find out how to nominate someone.

So how does TLGTC afford to do what it does? According to its website’s FAQ section, it  sells bottles to the LCBO for about $3.82. Of that, about $2.82 goes to the company’s expenses and the remaining $1 is donated to charity, which means that the non-profit gives about 26 per cent of its gross revenue (which is 100 per cent of profit) to charity.

When Twitter takes over, what’s a business to do?

It’s a business owner’s worst PR nightmare: a dubiously themed birthday party at your establishment sparks serious outrage on Twitter, and the next thing you know, you’re being accused of racism, with customers threatening to boycott.

According to The National Post , a party of 20 people gathered at Parkdale’s The Rhino Restaurant and Bar on Saturday night dressed in cowboy hats, headdresses and plastic tomahawks for a double birthday party. Once the first tweet was sent out – “There are people actually dressed as cowboys and Indians. Face paint and feathers” – the so-called "online rag” took on a life of its own. “More racism at #TheRhinoBar #parkdale #Toronto. #idlenomore pic.twitter.com/KS0uHxol,” said another tweet.

On Monday, the restaurant issued its "deepest apologies"  in a letter posted to its website, saying it was ‘troubled’ by the accusations of racism.

So what can a company do to prevent this type of disaster from happening in the first place, and to make sure it takes the right steps to protect its reputation?

Globe columnist Chris Griffiths says it’s all about getting out ahead of the story. He writes, “proactively managing your online reputation is hereby added to the to-do list for you or a delegate.” He also suggests reaching out to clients individually – they took the time to share their experience (good or bad); you need to acknowledge and learn from it."

If a company’s image is already seriously battered, it may be time to bring in the big guns; professionals who can help to craft a detailed reputation restoration plan.

IAF funds five new startups

Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) is funding five new tech startups – bringing its total investment in new enterprises to $28.8-million in 62 companies. Backed by the Government of Ontario and MaRS, IAF’s mandate is to help startups grow their businesses and position them for further investment by angels and venture capitalists.

It is currently Ontario’s most active seed-stage investor and its portfolio has raised more than $10-million in follow-on capital, according to Barry Gekiere, IAF’s managing director.

KEY EVENTS AND DATES

LinkedIn Hackday Toronto

On Feb. 1 and 2, LinkedIn is hosting a free Hackday Toronto at MaRS Centre. The challenge: Create an app, website, algorithm, or any technical creation that helps Toronto and its citizens become more productive and happy.

Aboriginal Business Match 2013

From Feb. 18 to 21, ABM 2013 will bring leaders from more than half of First Nations in British Columbia in contact with the broader business community to develop economic opportunities. The event takes place at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre in Penticton, B.C.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Video: Douglas Coupland unveils new furniture collection

The artist and author has launched a set of designs in conjunction with Vancouver-based SwitzerCultCreative. He presented the results at the Toronto Interior Design Show, which took place from Jan. 24 to Jan. 27.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Giving swag to celebs: worth the promotional payoff?

Many small firms might drool at the publicity of a big celebrity snapped with their wares. But events are not all that easy to get into, can come at a steep cost, and may not be the right strategy for all businesses, pros say.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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