How THANKYOU’s Daniel Flynn embraced ‘doing good’ through retail to create a movement

Aug 23 2019 | PayPal editorial staff

THANKYOU’s Daniel Flynn shares the challenges and triumphs of building a social enterprise.
Thankyou is a social enterprise born of paradox: It started with selling bottles of water to help end the world water crisis. The idea didn’t stop at water, Thankyou’s retail mission to end global poverty has now grown to include 55 personal care products – and counting! 

Thankyou Co-Founder and Managing Director, Daniel Flynn spoke with PayPal about the many challenges in building a social enterprise that commits 100% of its profits to ending global poverty. 

1. Adopt a beginner’s mindset to find innovative ways to challenge the norm

Daniel established Thankyou in 2008 alongside a group of co-founders at the ripe old age of 19 and every day he continues to drive Thankyou’s vision to see global poverty eradicated by helping millions of people in need. At the time, he could only have imagined how the business would evolve to what it is today.
 
“Right from the start we’ve been driven by curiosity - What could Thankyou be? What could it look like? Whether it was youth or naivety, we felt the world was our oyster, that we had the power to create almost anything.”
 
Starting any business comes with challenges, especially one that combines social enterprise, with a significant retail footprint and the creation of a thriving, engaged online community. It’s Daniel’s mindset that helped him navigate complex internal and external barriers.
 
“I often think about the mindset of not knowing. It may feel like a barrier, but in fact it can be your greatest asset. Constant curiosity combined with asking for help and advice can take you in directions you never thought possible. That’s the essence of entrepreneurship, it’s how everything comes about because people are willing to do things they haven’t done before.”

2. Listen – truly, deeply listen – to your customers. The adapt and adjust strategy accordingly.

Being agile and open to adaptation has been a huge part of Thankyou’s growth journey. This was important while building their retail strategy, which initially started through mainstream channels.
 
“Essentially, we started in bricks and mortar, which was a little bit backwards. We had an ambition to take on the big brands and get to everyone quickly. Yes, e-commerce was an avenue to do that, but we wanted to use our online presence to build and connect with our community.
 
Our ‘Coles and Woolworths’ campaign (leveraging Thankyou’s online community to target the supermarket giants to say ‘yes’ to taking on Thankyou products) is a great example of how we tapped into our online community.  We updated everyone on the impact of the campaign as it was rolling out and it grew from there. E-commerce is a little bit of everything today, which makes our deep and direct relationships with Thankyou customers all the more valuable.”

3. Understand your channels, build relationships and drive deep conversation

Online and multichannel retail has become critical to business success, and Daniel is well experienced in this, having started the brand through mainstream retail. E-commerce has helped accelerate brand awareness in a way that bricks and mortar couldn’t, by closely connecting an engaged community.
 
“Online engagement is such a great way to connect humans, it’s just a simple connection point. We created the Thankyou movement by building our brand and purpose through online campaigns.
 
“We’re now selling a lot online, but the real value to the brand is the depth of connection it enables us to have with people. We can track stories and prove our impact. We built a system to keep track of the impact and every product has its own unique tracker code. You put it into our website to search its GPS coordinates and sign up for a report. Once the project is complete, we send photo proof. It’s a really cool system and another way we can engage online with people, providing them with proof of what they’re buying into.”
 
For Daniel, driving deeper conversations with Thankyou customers means connecting beyond transactions, and giving them a reason to believe. Building a multichannel retail strategy that reflects the purpose and impact of the brand is essential to building meaningful relationships with customers.
 
Beyond the relationship with customers, Daniel also learned about the importance of relationships between the channels themselves and building a communications matrix for any brand.
 
“We’ve had to look at our product mix and get a lot more focused on what can be delivered uniquely through each channel, which is something we haven’t always gotten right. What works in store doesn’t necessarily work online, and vice versa. That was a big learning for us and when we get it right, it’s awesome.”
 
One product at a time, Thankyou is well on the way to delivering on their purpose which is ‘empowering humanity to choose a world without poverty’.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial and legal advice before making any business decision.
The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. The information in this article does not constitute legal, financial, IT, business or investment advice of any kind and is not a substitute for any professional advice. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, IT and legal advice before making any business decision.