We spoke with Daniel Flynn, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Thankyou Group, about why 'Thankyou Water' was just the first step in addressing the World Water Crisis.
NM: Big social movements start with just one thought. What was that thought that has now made Thankyou what it is today? Who was there, and what was the first point of action?
DF: When I was 19 years old, I stumbled across the reality of the World Water Crisis while doing a uni assignment. What really hit me as I did research was the personal stories of kids my own age who faced daily struggles due to not having access to safe water – for example, a boy who spent the whole day collecting water for his family only to see that same water he had brought home make his family extremely sick. At this time, I was studying a degree in project management and working on my ‘five year plan’ and the injustice of it all became real to me. I got together with a group of friends and worked on the idea to start a bottled water company that would exist for the sole purpose of funding safe water projects overseas. From there, we met with different advisors who pointed us in the right direction of starting a bottled water business. In August 2008, we launched Thankyou Water.
NM: Did you imagine Thankyou would become what it is today?
DF: I’d always hoped and dreamed it would. At the time of launching Thankyou Water in 2008, I probably thought that after six months we’d have reached the success that we’re only experiencing now. Maybe this was a little naïve, but I guess it demonstrates that the journey has been a lot longer that I initially imagined. At the end of the day, the highs and the lows of this five-year start-up period have definitely taught us a lot of lessons and have made our team who we are today.
NM: What are the most surprising facts, which are drivers to the mission of Thankyou?
DF: When I first discovered the World Water Crisis, I came across the fact that 900 million people didn’t have access to safe water, while at the same time Australians spend over $600 million on bottled water each year. The ridiculousness of these two extremes were part of the reason we began a social enterprise – to funnel the profits of the bottled water industry into helping people in need.
When we went over to visit the projects we had funded in Cambodia, we discovered that while lack of safe water was a big issue, it wasn’t the only one. We saw the need to supply food and hygiene solutions to see holistic, lasting change for those in developing nations. We discovered the fact that 1.4 billion people are stuck in extreme poverty (living on less than $2 a day) and still don’t have access to basic human rights. It was getting this perspective that sparked the idea to launch food and body care ranges, and expand our mission to support a range of different projects.
NM: Apart from what we can see, feel and buy, what is Thankyou up to?
DF: Myself, Jarryd and Justine (the other co-founders) recently got back from a pretty amazing trip to Kenya and Burundi, where we got to see first-hand the results of Australians purchasing the food and water ranges from supermarkets. For me, this trip was pretty impacting personally as I got to speak with so many beneficiaries whose lives have been transformed by safe water and food access. We’ll be sharing some of those stories soon on our social media channels.
At the moment, our marketing team is doing a lot of work to spread the word about Thankyou and making sure that people know our products are now available in supermarkets. We see marketing and ‘telling the story’ as pretty important – since we can’t really make impact overseas unless people understand and buy the product.
We’re always looking at new potential stockists and retailers to take on the range, so our sales team puts in a lot of hours visiting companies and sharing the story behind Thankyou’s products.
NM: First came water, now a delicious healthy range of bars and granolas as well as body care. I feel this isn’t the end of the line for Thankyou. Any hints of future Thankyou products?
DF: We’re always dreaming big at Thankyou and thinking about new products we can introduce to the market. We can’t say too much, but in our minds where we are at now is just the beginning.
NM: Where can we find Thankyou products?
DF: You can purchase our products from Coles and Woolworths (selected products from all three ranges), 7-Eleven Australia (water range), IGA (water range), Foodland SA (water range), Australia Post (water range), Starbucks (water range) and hundreds of other stockists around the country (water range).
Read more about the Thankyou. movement at thankyou.co
[Image: Daniel Flynn (left) in Cambodia. Image supplied by Thankyou.]