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Thankyou Water – a social enterprise making waves

UPDATE: Thankyou, formerly known as Thankyou Water, last Wednesday launched a campaign to urge Coles and Woolworths to help millions of people around the world by stocking Thankyou Water and its new range of body care and food products.

The social enterprise is asking the two major retailers to help Australians “live every day, give every day” by stocking products that fund safe water solutions, food programs and health and hygiene training to those in need.

“If they say ‘yes’, Thankyou, in partnership with Coles and Woolworths, could go from helping 50,000 people, to millions in the developing world,” said Thankyou MD and co-founder, Dan Flynn.

Since launch last Wednesday, the campaign video has received over 60,000 views on YouTube and thousands of fans have posted videos and comments directly onto Coles and Woolworths’ Facebook pages in support of the Thankyou range.

The campaign has been supported by celebrities such as Jules Lund, Chrissie Swan, Andrew Gaze, Rebecca Morse, Peter Helliar, Nicole Livingstone, Tim Costello, Dean Geyer and Dylan Lewis.

By SARAH PRESCOTT

Most people think bottle water is a little bit silly. Ironically, so does Dan Flynn, founder of bottled water social enterprise, Thankyou Water.

“Why pay two to three dollars for something that we can all get from the tap for free? The thing is, we like the convenience of water, a healthy alternative to soft drink, and so sometimes we are willing to pay for it,” says Flynn.

By tapping into the $600M bottled water market in Australia, Flynn, along with his co-founders Justine Flynn and Jarryd Burns, has established a social enterprise that exists solely to fund safe water projects in developing nations.

The organisation was founded in 2008 by a group of university students, spearheaded by 19 year-old Flynn, who had a vision to empower the everyday Australian to change the world.

The group, while working part-time jobs and juggling university degrees, volunteered their time over three and a half years to make their dream a reality.

However, it was by no means an easy journey. Flynn often says, “Six months after we started, we hoped we’d be where we are today.”

After deciding he needed to do something about the World Water Crisis (WWC), Flynn, a construction project management student at RMIT University, set to the task of finding out how to start a company from scratch.

The team was told they faced over $250,000 of start-up expenses, not to mention the millions of dollars they were told it would take to market the brand. This volume of cash didn’t exist for Flynn and his team.

Flynn now often jokes that the team at that time had a combined net worth of about $1,000.

Wearing borrowed suits and removing the telltale p-plates from their cars, the group attended first round meetings with bottlers in August 2008, under the claim that they were about to launch “the next big brand of water in Australia”.

After four not-so-successful meetings, when they sat down with bottler number five they dropped the confidential spiel and explained exactly what they planned to do.

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The managing director, who had been in the industry for 15 years, said it was “an awesome idea” and undertook to cover the first run of production – with no upfront costs.

Next up, a meeting with packaging company Visy saw Flynn boldly ask for 10 million free bottles, to the shock of his colleagues. The result was that Visy offered them an unused bottle that had already been designed and a donation of 30,000 bottles to get started.

The last task to tick off the list was securing a distributor. Their target was Metro Beverage Company, the largest independent distributor in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Like many times before, they were advised they wouldn’t be able to do secure a deal that big. And like many times before, they proved the naysayers wrong when they came out of a meeting holding a commitment from MBC to take 50,000 of Thankyou Water’s product.

From there, a company began and by the end of 2008, bottles of Thankyou Water had hit shelves.

It wasn’t long after that their vision of providing safe water to those in need became reality, when in March 2009 the organisation funded its very first water project with its first lot of profit.

What followed were two years of hard work that resulted in a couple of small wins, but some big setbacks. These included two recalls, trouble with bottlers, a few broken promises with potential big retailers and the team constantly being told that they were “too young and incapable”.

However in 2011, Thankyou Water saw major success when a social media campaign caught the attention of the 7-Eleven Australia, resulting in the major retailer deciding to back the brand and stock the product in their stores. This was followed by Australia Post, which agreed to sell the beverage in eight hundred of its corporate outlets.

Sarah is part of the Thankyou Water team

Today, Thankyou Water has a team of twenty people, including a core staff of seven plus thirteen volunteers who work day-in, day-out to continue making the dream happen.

The team, while admitting they’ve achieved a lot in the past four years, continue to dream big.

They have just launched a new marketing campaign that celebrates the sale of their three-millionth bottle and the provision of safe water to 15,000 people. The team is calling out for Australians to help thank every single person that has helped make a difference, simply by changing the brand of water they buy.

Through this campaign, the team hopes to get the word out about Thankyou Water to every single Australian, to ensure that they can impact even more lives – by the thousands.

To date, Thankyou Water has contributed to 58 water projects in Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

To check out “The Thankyou Campaign”, visit www.thankyouwater.org or www.thankyouwater.org/thankyou-campaign

Thankyou Water on Social Media:

www.facebook.com/thankyouwater
www.youtube.com/user/thankyouwater
www.twitter.com/thankyouwater

Sarah Prescott is a self-confessed obsessed chocolate-eater, social media addict and online shopper. Sarah has worked in PR for two years and has recently come on board with Thankyou Water after acting on a desire to make a difference, somewhere, somehow.


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