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Greater Good founder Sung Park raising money for a beverage company with better containers

Posted by Scott Kirsner  August 24, 2011 10:03 AM

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No matter how healthy the bottled beverage you're drinking, entrepreneur Sung Park believes there's still one problem: the container it comes in was likely made from PET plastic, a petroleum-based material. And according to stats from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there's only about a 30 percent chance that the bottle will get recycled.

"Plastic bottles last forever," says Park, who has been raising money for a new beverage start-up called Greater Good. "We're trying to create a new brand of beverage that is better for the environment, with contents that are better for you, and a company that gives back to society. We think all brands of the future will represent that." Park is best-known as the founder of Newton-based Custom Clothing Technology Corp., a pioneer of the "mass customization" movement that was acquired in 1995 by Levi Strauss & Company to crank out custom-fit jeans. He has also served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the product design firm IDEO.

Greater Good is working on a package made from cardboard and plant materials. "The cornerstone of the product is the packaging," says Park. "It's compostable and biodegradable." The company is considering selling water and other beverages, including some fortified with Vitamin D. "It's hard to get, and incredibly good for you," Park says of the vitamin.

Park says he has assembled a group of advisors for the new venture that includes current and former executives of PepsiCo, Trader Joes, and Honest Tea, as well as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Early investors include John Landry of Lead Dog Ventures and Woody Benson of Prism VentureWorks. "We're still out grubbing for money," Park says.

"We believe that in every product category, there will be an 'eco' segment," Park says. "In automotive, the Toyota Prius owns that position. We're staking out an effort in the beverage category."

Greater Good is a spin-out from Umagination Labs, an "innovation factory" run by Park. It's currently operating out of the Cambridge offices of General Catalyst Partners, though Park says the venture capital firm is not an investor in Greater Good.

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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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