Thankyou: The next chapter

It seems only natural for Thankyou, an Australian social enterprise which invites consumers to play a role in ending global poverty, to use an innovative crowd-funding campaign to fund their expansion.
Earlier this year, Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn released a book; Chapter One: you have the power to change stuff. This is his personal account of the Thankyou story so far and an inspirational guide of how readers can turn their ideas into reality. The book was launched in late February, with a twist, of course: The book was sold at a ‘pay what you want price,’ so when customers purchased the book, they were also investing in the future of Thankyou.
In one month the team accrued $1.4 million to fund the launch of a baby care range which will help support infant and maternal health care programs. It will also fund the expansion of the brand to New Zealand early next year, and a third milestone to be announced after the first two have been launched.
Chapter One reached best-seller status (9000 copies) two hours after it was launched. Throughout the month, Thankyou sold 43,640 copies online and in bookstores, with the online sales packed by the Thankyou team and 300 volunteers in an Essendon Fields warehouse.
Daniel said packing the books in the warehouse was his favourite part of the campaign.
“It was just the good old Thankyou days, keeping it small and keeping it real. It was my favourite time just connecting with people,” he said.
All the Thankyou product ranges are made ethically and locally, stimulating the local economy and supporting water, hygiene and food aid projects in third world countries.
Thankyou also has no shareholders or investors so they can give 100 per cent of their profits to projects. Since beginning in 2008, Thankyou has given more than $3.7 million to projects in 17 countries including Cambodia, Zimbabwe and Timor Leste.
Thankyou began selling their first product, ‘concept water’ eight years ago, after Daniel discovered that there were 900 million people in the world without access to safe drinking water and yet Australians were spending $600 million a year on bottled water.
Throughout their five-year start-up, Daniel, his wife Justine and friend Jarryd realised that the projects they were currently funding were only part of the answer to ending global poverty.
“We fund water, food, health and sanitation programs, which is great, but a prerequisite to needing water or food is that you’re alive,” said Daniel.
“Infant and maternal health is a huge focus in the NGO sector and we know it needs more funding so for us it’s about determining a product range that fits in with that.
Our body care range has been doing exceptionally well, leading the market in many of its lines so baby body care was a really natural progression,” he said.
Daniel said that finding partners to facilitate infant and maternal health programs was the next step. The day after I spoke with Daniel, he and Justine were flying out to Nepal to meet with prospective partner organisation, One Heart. Over the last five years, One Heart has been working in Nepal and surrounding provinces to develop maternal clinics, and have reduced infant deaths to zero.
Daniel said that One Heart’s maternal clinics were an example of their ability to navigate the local taboos surrounding pregnant women visiting hospitals.
“With 99 per cent of infant and maternal deaths occurring in developing countries, we know that one per cent of deaths still exist in developed countries, but it shows that through access to health care and good health practices, developed countries have been able to reduce maternal deaths,” he said.
It is expected that Thankyou’s new range of dermatologically tested baby wipes, nappies, baby lotion, bubble bath and shampoos will be available to consumers in the coming months.
Daniel said that finding suppliers and developing quality products was another important part of launching a new range. Unlike many other products sold on supermarket shelves which are purely commodities, Thankyou sells a concept and when consumers buy their products they are supporting specific causes. Therefore the quality of their products needs to be of a consistently high standard.
“The products need to be better than competitors’ and it’s not that we’re really arrogant in the market, but we know that if our product isn’t better [than alternative brands] consumers will buy it once just for the cause and that’s about it. What we really need for this to work is long-term commitment,” Daniel said.
“To get that long-term commitment the product has to stack up, which means the suppliers we work with need to be innovative, cutting-edge and have experience,” he said.
Many of the suppliers that Thankyou works with have extensive experience in their specific industries. The selection of suppliers also depends on the ethical alignment and whether a product would be economically competitive.
Daniel said that expanding Thankyou to New Zealand would be a challenging but rewarding experience.
He said the food range would be different from that sold in Australia as it would be made locally, while the body care range will be essentially the same and will be sourced from Australia.
“The truth is we’re not launching an Aussie brand in New Zealand, we’re actually going to start from the ground up, a local team and local product, a model that maybe could one day be replicated in other markets around the world,” Daniel said.
He said the Thankyou journey so far has been driven by a pursuit of making a greater impact.
“The Thankyou journey has given me a whole new perspective on our world, on how deeply messed up and complex it is and at the same time how change is possible and there is hope.
We owe it, not just to ourselves but to the people that this idea could help and change the lives of,” Daniel said.
“The book is titled Chapter One because that’s our belief, this is chapter one, there should be ten, twelve, maybe more chapters. That’s a big call in itself but there’s definitely some big dreams.”

Daisy Baker

Daisy is studying a Bachelor or Arts and is majoring in Journalism, Media and Communications, and English. She loves all things arts and culture.

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