Good Taste Meets Good Deeds: Daniel Goetz of GoodPoP Is a Man With a Mission
Looking at Daniel Goetz, it’s hard to believe he founded a company 10 years ago. He could easily still pass as a college student with his curious eyes, boyish haircut, and contagious smile. However, a lot has happened in the decade since Goetz was a senior at the University of Texas in 2009 — the same year he founded GoodPop.
Born in L.A., Goetz moved to Houston at age eight. Growing up, his mother was heavily involved in philanthropy and instilled in him early on the desire to do good. Instead of traditional birthday gifts, Goetz’s birthday parties were always centered around supporting charitable causes. As he grew, his mind was full of ideas, and he was excited to spend sunny days orchestrating a neighborhood lemonade stand. While he was still in high school, he visited Austin and vowed to return as soon as possible — and he did, a few years later as a UT student majoring in advertising.
Goetz worked many different jobs throughout his school years, but he still hadn’t hit on what he was going to do after college. Then one particularly hot day in 2009, the summer before his senior year, he was craving a frozen sweet treat. He went to a nearby snow cone stand but left disappointed (and empty-handed) after discovering that the syrups were made of dubious ingredients that were a mystery even to the stand employee.
Goetz believed that having a treat didn’t have to mean sacrificing quality and nourishment. He wistfully remembered trying paletas naturales (natural fruit popsicles) in Mexico and was certain that he could find something similar somewhere in Austin. However, despite an honest search, he found that everything that might satisfy his craving contained artificial flavors and unpronounceable ingredients. He knew his body deserved better; moreover, he knew his beloved city of Austin deserved better. So in the tradition of successful entrepreneurs, he set out to fill that need.
Goetz recalls how the spark that inspired the name of his company came as he was writing a lot for his advanced advertising classes: The word “good” kept popping out to him. “It’s humble and also touches on the type of product and mission I wanted to create,” Goetz says.
The beginnings of GoodPop were positive and humble indeed. Just two months after the company’s birth, GoodPop All-Natural Frozen Pops were being sold at the Austin farmers market. Soon they were a hit at four markets around town. As a completely bootstrapped company, GoodPop’s clear strategy and attention to detail were imperative because there weren’t a lot of extra funds to play around with.
Goetz, still finishing up his senior year, was meticulous in every decision he made. Though he certainly made some mistakes along the way, GoodPop was soon picked up by Whole Foods and is now sold in retail stores in more than 40 states. "The important thing is not focusing on what you did wrong but instead learning from those mistakes and not repeating them again in the future," Goetz says.
Goetz’s commitment to mission was essential to the early success of GoodPop. He knew from the beginning that he not only wanted to make an amazing product, he also wanted to use that product as a vehicle to do good in the world. GoodPop partnered with nonprofits and other community organizations, including Austin Pets Alive, Keep Austin Beautiful, Central Texas Food Bank, Livestrong, American Cancer Society, and Flatwater Foundation. Its work with these organizations took various forms and included adopting a creek, donating pops to volunteers, and donating money based on a percentage of sales.
Goetz remembers the satisfaction of being able to make a real difference during Hurricane Harvey. He reached out to other Austin food companies asking for donations, which were gathered up in the GoodPop warehouse, and drove them out to relief efforts where they were needed. “Without GoodPop, I would have never had the access or ability to do something like that,” Goetz says.
GoodPop is also a certified B-corp, which means it meets the highest standards of social, environmental, and legal performance as well as accountability and transparency. Now with 14 full-time employees, staying true to the product and mission is more important than ever. To this day, GoodPop has never found an employee from a job posting. Instead, it has hired only people who are so passionate about the mission and product that they reach out to GoodPop directly. This is important to the success of GoodPop, given that the company remains self-funded and relatively small and one wrong hire could be detrimental. Goetz has found that the people who reach out already value both clean eating and making a positive social impact. Their intrinsic ties to the GoodPop mission make them valuable team members who can perform well in a variety of capacities.
As the company grows, Goetz admits there are a lot of high-stress periods. “I’ll always be passionate about what I’m doing,” Goetz says. “However, I try to separate emotion from business. This way, I can handle the stressors of running a business that come up throughout the day that I might not be able to control.”
Though he has found a way to manage stress at work, Goetz recognizes how easy it is to become disconnected and burned out, which is another reason he strives to use his business to make a positive impact including through his latest initiative: Pledge Good. “As a small company, it’s tougher to make a sizable impact, so you have to do so in creative ways,” Goetz says.
Finally, Goetz realizes entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone but that passionate young people can certainly found successful companies if they are doing it for the right reasons. "If you have passion for the business, you’ll be excited about waking up every day to work on it five or 10 years down the line. Make sure you have a clear goal for what you want to get out of starting a business."
Written by: Liz Harroun