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Practically Green, site that suggests environmentally-friendly products and actions, raises $750,000

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 3, 2010 10:10 AM

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Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 10.09.42 AM.pngPractically Green, a Boston Web site that offers what you might call a "green lifestyle make-over," plans to announce tomorrow that it has raised $750,000 from CommonAngels and individual investors. The company was founded earlier this year by two former Boston.com executives, Susan Hunt Stevens (the former general manager for the site) and Jason Butler (formerly director of community product development.) Also coming tomorrow is an announcement about the site's first major media partnership.

Practically Green is built around a quiz that serves up a report card based on your household's current activities. Do you use an all-natural toothpase? Buy organic chicken? Have you installed a low-flow showerhead or toilet? Once the quiz is completed and you're scored in categories like energy and water usage, the site makes some recommendations about greener choices you might make. "It could be something big, like installing a programmable thermostat," Stevens explains, "or something small like switching to an all-natural dish detergent." The site has a database of more than 400 specific actions to recommend based on the results of the quiz.

The site also integrates social networking, allowing you to compare your rankings with friends, and, Stevens explains, "if you commit to taking an action, you can share that with a friend, which makes you more likely to follow through."

Practically Green's business model is built around pay-for-performance advertising and sponsorships. If your score on the quiz earns you the "natural baby" or "green kitchen" badge, for instance, that might be sponsored by a relevant brand. And companies will pay Practically Green lead-generation fees for consumers that the site sends their way. Someone, after all, wants access to all those consumers who suddenly want to install new toilets or thermostats.

Joining the board as the result of Practically Green's first round of funding are Chris Sheehan of CommonAngels and John Landry, a CommonAngels member and investor with Lead Dog Ventures. (Stevens had previously worked at Abridge, a New York collaboration software company where Landry served on the board, and she is on the board of Xconomy, a Cambridge-based media start-up, with Sheehan.) Also investing in this round is bacon baron Stephen McDonnell, CEO of New Jersey-based Applegate Farms, which markets organic and natural meats. And Eric Hudson, founder of Waltham-based Preserve Products, which makes consumer products out of recycled plastic, is joining Practically Green's advisory board.

Practically Green launched a beta in May with a test community of 100 mothers (they cleverly dubbed the group "the Mother Board"), and opened the site to other users in late June. The start-up is currently operating out of Back Bay office space loaned to it by the PR firm Elevate Communications.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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