Tyler Merrick, founder of Project 7, walks through orange trees at Rogers Gardens, a nursery near Project 7's offices in Costa Mesa, Calif. Part of Project 7's profits go toward the planting fruit trees.
Tyler Merrick thought his timing couldn't have been worse. He launched Project 7 - a company aimed at devoting some of its profits to charity - in the fall of 2008 as the world financial system was unraveling.
He had left a safe job in his family's pet-food business in Texas to start his own company in Orange County, Calif. He had just turned 30, and he was scared.
"Here I am starting a company about giving back when everyone was just trying to hold on," he said. ...