While doing research for this issue I stumbled across the remarkable story of Thankyou Water. It is the kind of story that restores your faith in the goodness of humanity. Daniel Flynn, co-founder of Thankyou Water firmly believes that “Impossibility is only someone’s opinion, not a fact” – and the story behind this company proves that with passion, persistence and perseverance any challenge can be overcome – and any vision can become a reality. Thankyou Water has kindly agreed to allow us to share their story with you.
The Thankyou Story
Our co-founder and Managing Director, Daniel Flynn, was 19 years old when he discovered that the Australian bottled water industry was worth AUD600 million (BND612 million) a year, yet around 900 million people at that time were without access to safe drinking water. Inspired to do something about the World Water Crisis, Daniel pulled together a group of friends and together came up with the idea to launch a bottled water product that would fund water projects around the globe. Balancing part-time work, full-time studies and a bold new vision to change lives, Daniel and our team threw themselves into researching the bottled water industry and launching our very first product: Thankyou Water. The next few years were full of ups and downs, but mostly downs. We were told we faced over AUD250,000 (BND255,250) of start-up expenses, not to mention the millions of dollars that business professionals said it would take to market the brand. With a combined net worth of about AUD1,000 (BND1,020) between us at the time, we figured that a Plan b was in order. So we got creative and attempted booking meetings with some pretty important people. Attempts that surprisingly ended up being successful.
After a few meetings with bottling companies, we managed to get one particular bottling company agreeing to a first run of production, minus any upfront costs. Packaging giant Visy also backed the vision by donating 30,000 bottles. Metro Beverage Company, the largest independent distributor in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia agreed to distribute Thankyou Water. But after initial success and a lot of excitement, we experienced a pretty long series of setbacks. These included two recalls, trouble with bottlers and distribution deals with several major retailers falling through.
However in 2011, we finally took a big leap forward when Australia Post agreed to stock our product, followed by a huge deal with 7-Eleven Australia following a social media campaign where we asked fans to back us. By June 2013, Thankyou Water was available for purchase in over 3,000 retail outlets including 7-Eleven Australia, Australia Post, IGA and Foodland stores, Provender vending machines and approximately 400 independent cafes and outlets. At this point, we were working hard on expanding our vision even further.
During the five-year startup journey, we had realised that helping communities access safe water was only a small part of the bigger problem. When reviewing a water project that we had funded, Daniel saw that while the business was improving access to safe water, many communities still struggled with poor health and hygiene practices. Not only that, but we had seen first-hand the effects of the global hunger crisis and were well aware of the need for both short-term and long-term sustainable food solutions.
All of this sparked the idea to rebrand to Thankyou and launch Thankyou food and Thankyou body care, as well as the start of a disruptive social media campaign that called on the support on our Facebook fans to get the products into Coles and Woolworths.
The campaign worked, and in late 2013, our products (including food and body care) rolled out into supermarkets around the country. What’s exciting is that, with the help of Australians, today our products are available in Coles, Woolworths and IGA supermarkets around the country, as well as in Australia Post, 7-Eleven Australia, Foodland, Priceline, Chemmart, Quest Hotels and hundreds of other independent outlets.
The Thankyou food range includes muesli, clusters, and muesli bars and a single purchase of one Thankyou food product has the power to provide one week of immediate food relief as well as support long-term sustainable food programs. Thankyou’s body care range includes premium hand wash, hand lotion, body wash, body lotion, hand cream, soap and sanitiser products, with every product contributing to one person receiving access to hygiene and sanitation training.
Thankyou’s water range features sparkling and still water varieties, with every bottle contributing to providing safe water access to someone in need. The best part is that this was all just the beginning. What’s exciting is that we’ve just launched our next big move, Chapter One. Chapter One is a book (that’s been seven years in the making!) about the Thankyou journey so far. But it’s not just a book. It’s an invitation and it’s addressed to you. To inspire you to make your own dreams and ideas a reality, while also empowering you to crowdfund the future of Thankyou by paying-what-you-want for your copy of the book.
100% of the profits from Chapter One will fund Thankyou’s future and our goal to end global poverty, through crowdfunding the launch Thankyou baby body care and nappy range to fund infant and maternal health programs, and followed by Thankyou New Zealand.
For more information visit: https://thankyou.co/