Four years ago, Daniel Flynn had a big idea. Some would say an epiphany. Appalled to read that 900 million people had no access to safe water and equally angered by the idiocy of bottled water in a country where the tap is safe to drink from, the 19-year-old university student wanted to do something.
He decided to start his own bottled water company (as if that market place wasn’t already over-crowded!) that would channel all its surplus revenues into funding water projects rather than making a profit. Thankyou Water was born.
“The simple idea was, ‘Let’s combine these two extremes and find some way to make this industry bring water to people who need it,” Daniel says.
By October 2012 and after lots of trial, error, generosity and learning “the reality of business” – as Flynn puts it – his brand Thankyou Water will have replaced 7-Eleven’s own label water in 600 convenience stores nationwide. The profit from anticipated annual sales of 2.5 million bottles at 7-Eleven alone, plus sales at 1000 Australia Post outlets and about 300 Provendor vending machines will give Thankyou Water at least $500,000 to spend on water projects.
Melbourne-based Thankyou Water is social enterprise that competes at the low end of the mainstream bottled water market. Its product sells for $2.30 for a 600 millilitre bottle. This form of business – a social enterprise – appeals to the army of Gen Y consumers who will spend money but are concerned about where profits go, Daniel says.
The company that started as a 19-year-old’s idea now has 12 employees, comprising full and part-time staff.
Having put his RMIT University course on hold in the third year, he says he’s unlikely to resume.
This is another inspiring story of starting a business and doing the world of good. Not unlike my fireside chat with another social entrepreneur in Rebecca from Streat late last year.
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