Social Entrepreneur, Matt Johnson Leaves Finance Industry to Start Project: Living Well

Learn how Matt Johnson launched his social enterprise and why the path to entrepreneurship isn't always "puppies and rainbows."

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In early 2011, Matt Johnson and a few friends found themselves on a journey across the world, inspired to live out their dreams.

A year earlier, Johnson had left his lucrative career in finance with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, one of the largest wealth management firms in the world, searching for a deeper purpose.

During his travels, he became inspired by his new adventurer lifestyle and an opportunity to help those he met along the way. Soon after, Matt and his friends decided to create a hand-selected pack of gear to keep adventurers like themselves, recharged.

His travels and product ideas soon inspired Matt’s social entrepreneurship endeavor with plans to “sell products that create change locally, while providing relief abroad,” says Johnson, now the co-founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Project: Living Well.

“With every product that we sell, we issue a challenge to the [customer] to go out and do one thing in their local community that brings life to someone. [In turn] with every [sale] we’re able to bring life to someone abroad by working with partners to provide clean water [in the developing world],” said Johnson in a recent interview.

Johnson likens his fledgling lifestyle brand for adventurers to what the offspring of TOMS Shoes and DoSomething.org would look like. Project Living Well’s social enterprise hopes to allow people to give back to their own community, provide clean drinking water, and sell unique branded products along the way.

Learn how Matt Johnson launched his social enterprise and why the path to entrepreneurship isn’t always “puppies and rainbows.”

Company: Project: Living Well
Founder(s): Matthew Johnson, Daniel Goldstein, Lee Diaz
Location: Chicago, IL
Industry: Social Enterprise
Startup Year: 2011
Startup Costs: Undisclosed

How I Got Started:

Before this project, I worked in the wealth management industry, well on my way to a lucrative position as a partner at one of the largest firms in the world. I had donated and bought products that supported causes, but I found myself thirsty, searching for something with a deeper purpose.

I set out on a journey with some close friends to visit a community in rural Latin America where we met a school of children. It was at a water well, where we met these children and had a two-hour water fight with them. The experience changed our lives.

We returned home inspired to create a new kind of business. I resigned from my position to dedicate myself to creating a company for the everyday world changer. For those who were committed to being the change they wished to see. A company that created comfortable, wearable products that didn’t just fund relief efforts elsewhere; but one that would give customers the platform to share how they are impacting the world.

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