It takes a great man to see beyond what others believe is ‘possible’. It takes an even greater man to persevere through obstacles others would consider impossible; to tackle the largest corporations in the world for the betterment of human kind. As my interview subject has proved, “Impossible is just another person’s opinion”. You can change the game and create a new understanding of what can be achieved when your heart is in the right place. There is no ‘impossible’ – especially when the cause is to save the world.
The co-founder and Managing Director of Thankyou™, Daniel Flynn, is a superhero in disguise. Though he may not fly around in an emblazoned cape, he is saving lives and helping to change the world for the better. Instead of laser vision and super-human strength, Daniel possesses dozens of products that are helping to end the global water crisis and fund life-changing maternal and child health services to those that need it most.
The stats around both of these crises is staggering – 663 million people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, yet as a global community, we have spent over $100billion on bottled water.
The devastating stats around birth mortality rates in Rural Nepal and Zimbabwe – every 103 seconds a mother dies in childbirth. Globally, 2.7 million babies don’t make it through their first month of life every year because they don’t have access to basic health care.
It’s difficult to wrap your head around the fact that 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, and in this same world, extreme consumerism exists. Billions of dollars are pumped into the globe’s multinational corporations and nothing goes back into communities that are desperate for survival.
Thankyou™ wanted to change that, with the simple and selfless idea that turned the game on its head. Daniel, along with his best mate and now wife, decided that 100% of the profits from their bottled water would go to fund access to clean drinking water to communities around the world.
To date over, over 756,000 people have been positively impacted by Thankyou™.
Pen To Paper Media sat down with the ground-breaking, courageous, pioneering, humble, determined and brilliant Daniel Flynn, to chat about the power of an idea and belief in the impossible.
What sparked your journey to start Thankyou™ and who was the first person you approached about beginning to change the game and help the world?
It all started with a moment sitting at my computer back in 2008. I was 19 at the time and was doing research when I came across this statistic – 900 million people around the world (now 663 million) don’t have access to safe drinking water. I just found this so difficult to wrap my head around, when I can get clean water at the turn of a tap in my house. I started watching videos of kids walking to collect water for their families and started to think, ‘what if that was me?’ It moved me to the point that I was sitting at my computer in tears. I did some more research and discovered that at the time, the Australian bottled water industry was worth $600 million. I had a thought about these two extremes – what if we could take the profits from bottled water and use these to fund safe water for people in need? I shared this idea with a group of friends, including Justine and Jarryd, and they agreed – we needed to do something to change this.
Why do you think that such a ‘simple’ idea, 100% of profits going to fund communities in need, had not been actioned before?
I think it’s because there are fundamental flaws to the model that traditional business would say is a deal-breaker. Like the fact that if you commit 100% of profits to impact, then how do you fund business growth and have the capital you need for expansion? It’s a simple idea, but there are challenges in executing it.
Thankyou™ as a brand is a shining example of the ‘power of people’. From campaigning to have people jump onto the 7/11 Facebook page to having helicopters fly for free over the HQ’s of Coles and Woolworths. Have you been amazed and humbled by the everyday people that are backing your cause?
We’re constantly blown away by the amazing support we receive from people across the country. We have an incredible community of Thankyou™ Ambassadors who have signed up to do everything from supporting us on social media to helping get stocked in cafes, schools and universities. Just a few weeks ago, we reached out to our ambassadors to help spread the word on our ‘We’ll Get You Through The Night’ offer, by having them help us place stickers with details of the offer on Thankyou™ nappy boxes in Woolworths, and we had 300 people jump onboard! It’s very humbling to know that people are willing to give up their time and energy to help us in our mission.
It took 5 years for your product to reach the shelves of Coles and Woolworths. What kept you persevering through all the set-backs?
We experienced so many setbacks in the early years. We had two recalls, issues with bottlers and distribution deals with major retailers fall through. But for me, it was my ‘why’ that kept me moving. It’s my core belief that it’s just not right that there are people living in extreme poverty and I have to do what I can to help end it. And the reality is, we can do more together than we can apart. There have been days and even weeks at Thankyou™ that have really challenged me. But whenever I am struggling, I draw strength from remembering why we are doing what we’re doing.
Thankyou™ is a very honest, endearing and down-to-earth brand, constantly working outside of the box to get your message heard. Your latest campaign to relaunch your nappy range comes with the tagline, ‘We’ll get you through the night. Even if we have to send you a box of Huggies.’ What has been consumer response to this relaunch?
We’ve had an amazing response to the campaign and have more Aussies than ever giving our nappies a go. The results have really backed the quality of our new and improved nappies too. Data from the six-week campaign suggests that Thankyou™ nappies got 99.2% of parents through the night, with only 318 parents asking to be sent a box of Huggies.
So far, you have managed to help more than 780,000 people around the world. Could you have imagined a decade ago that your simple idea would have had that much of an impact?
We’re so proud of the impact we’ve been able to make. When we started Thankyou™ we dreamed that we’d be able to reach thousands (and one day, millions) of people around the world. But something that constantly blows me away is how Aussies have backed us on this journey. It’s been completely humbling.
Thinking back to 19 year old Daniel, what was your initial intention when starting up Thankyou™?
Our initial intention in starting Thankyou™ was not just to create a bottle of water that would fund safe water for people in need, it was really to create a simple way for people to make real difference through their daily life. We always dreamed that Thankyou™ would be a consumer movement, empowering everyone to play a role in ending global poverty.
You created a book, Chapter One, to help fund the next stage of Thankyou™. The difference was, it had no retail price, so people could pay what they wanted. As a result, it has been a 20 times bestseller (second only to the Harry Potter book launch) and has raised over $1 million. Is that result beyond your wildest dreams or just another example of the reality that people really do want to change the world?
We like to dream big at Thankyou™ but the result was really beyond our wildest dreams. To date, we’ve sold over 100,000 copies and raised more than $1.8 million to fund the future of Thankyou™. I think one of the things we didn’t expect with Chapter One was the impact it’s had on our community. We’ve had so many people tell us that they have been inspired by our story and gone on to start their own businesses and make an impact on the world.
What is next for Daniel Flynn and Thankyou™?
We’re very excited to launch Thankyou™ New Zealand this week! It’s been a couple of years in the making and we’re pumped to see where Kiwis will take Thankyou™.
QUICK RANDOM ONES
Modern day luxury you wish was never invented?
Favourite place to holiday in the world?
Batman – he’s just a regular person that goes out there trying to do good stuff. And the matte black suit is pretty cool.
Who do you look up to?
3 people (living or dead) you would want to invite to dinner?
William Wilberforce, Scott Harrison, Mother Teresa.
Your dream for the world?
That we would focus on what matters most and stop putting all of our attention on what matters the least.