This blog post is written by Untonne’s founder, Geoff Bastian, about how Untonne was started as a purpose-driven business.

In my late 20s, I felt like something was missing. At the time, I was working on a Masters in Business Administration focusing on sustainability and social justice. I wasn’t unhappy, but I wasn’t happy either - just right in the middle. During a leadership course, I was free to explore any subject for personal development, and I chose happiness.

I read about 5 books on the topic and delivered a presentation on happiness to my classmates. And guess what - I found that I was a little bit happier. So after graduating, I continued my self-study and kept reading more books and articles. I even started a “happiness club” where I would get together with friends, have a potluck dinner, and discuss a topic related to happiness.

By diving into happiness, I did become happier. But then something clicked for me that brought my understanding of happiness to the next level: some friends shared an article that explored the confluence of purpose, meaningful living, and joy. The idea that living your purpose brings happiness puts a whole new twist on things; for me, it encouraged things like going 110%, doing things that are hard, stressful, or uncomfortable in order to reap a future reward, and follow my heart.

This set me off on my next journey - to start a podcast about finding your purpose and living a meaningful life called “Ignited with Meaning.” Through this podcast, I interviewed life coaches, professors, and people living out their meaningful work. And in 2019, I interviewed Dean Still, who has done work to research, manufacture, and deliver clean cookstoves to people in need around the globe for over 30 years. I had done an internship with Dean about 15 years earlier, and I was eager to hear all the progress made in the clean cookstove space since I left that internship.

Purpose-driven work is not always easy, and success can take a lifetime of work. Dean now helps to manufacture and deliver about one million clean cookstoves annually - a huge accomplishment helping so many people. And yet, when 2.5 billion people need stoves, the opportunity to contribute in this space remains massive.

At the time, I hadn’t found a way to live out my purpose personally. Within a year, I transitioned from podcasting about happiness to founding Untonne—a platform dedicated to addressing the global demand for clean cookstoves, mirroring Dean's commitment to impactful work.

Living out that purpose comes with a different kind of happiness than what I’ve experienced before - a profound sense of contentment or the feeling that I know I’m on the right path. There is still a long way to go, and I know I want to magnify my impact, but at the same time, I feel good knowing that each stove funded makes a difference for families living in poverty, and that is one of the best kinds of happiness.

Learn more about the ways that Untonne is making a difference: