Maree Ferguson: Learning from Daniel Flynn’s Chapter One

I was recently lucky enough to hear Daniel Flynn, Co-founder and Managing Director of Thankyou, speak at a Sydney event. His inspiring story – and subsequent success – is one of innovation, and making a difference.

WHAT IF…?

When Daniel Flynn was a university student, he was confronted by the statistic that 900 million people globally don’t have access to clean water, and yet bottled water is a $100 billion market worldwide.

He thought, what if you could use the profits from bottled water to help provide clean water to those who need it? What if one person could make a difference – and, together, we could change the world?

And so Daniel took action: he founded a social enterprise and consumer-led brand that today is well known: Thankyou.

GETTING STARTED

How do you start a water company? Daniel and his two co-founders had no idea, so they did what everyone does and Googled it.

Amazingly, they were able to get free bottles to get them started. This created momentum, and – as Daniel pointed out – people back momentum, not ideas.

BUMPS IN THE ROAD

Daniel and his team faced challenges along the way (e.g., can you actually call a brand Thankyou?). They also had to recall their launch product, as the labels could not be read and a retailer didn’t honour their commitment to national distribution.

KNOWING YOUR “WHY”

The Thankyou founding team was asked many times why did they keep going and not just give up. It was because of the “why” they were starting this social enterprise. Daniel stresses the importance of knowing your “why”. Daniel and his team also constantly challenge their thinking, and ask the questions, “What if it was possible? Who says we have to do things the way they have been done before?”

HARNESSING CONSUMER POWER

One of Daniel & co.’s best ideas was to harness consumer power. In a Facebook post, they asked their fan base to help them convince 7-11 to stock their water product; the post went viral. They later used the same idea to get Coles and Woolworths to stock their products, as well as flying over the headquarters of both retailers with a banner that read “Thank you for changing the world (if you say yes)”.

INNOVATION CONTINUES: CHAPTER ONE BOOK

The Thankyou team have used the sales of Daniel’s book, “Chapter One”, to fund their expansion into a baby range and into New Zealand, raising more than $1.2 million from book sales. The book was also novel, in that it reads from top to bottom – rather than left to right. What’s more, you can pay whatever price you like for it. I highly recommend reading the book – it is a fabulous chronicle of the Thankyou story and explains how if you challenge your thinking, it’s amazing what is possible.

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Daniel ends his presentation with a challenge to all of us: be bold enough to step out, be comfortable with the uncomfortable, and have the courage to step out of our comfort zone. Don’t let fear stop you – fear of failure has killed more dreams than failure itself.

What will be your next chapter?

By Maree Ferguson

Edited by Laura Byrne