Thankyou Co. co-founder Justine Flynn shares her advice for other business builders.
What is Thankyou?
“Thankyou was born in 2008 in response to the World Water Crisis. At that time, over 900 million people didn’t have access to safe drinking water on a daily basis, yet the Australian bottled water industry was worth an estimated $600 million a year. Pretty wild given Aussies can access safe water straight from the tap!”
Starting with tackling the way Australians consume bottled water, Thankyou has gone on to make a range of products from soap and nappies to snack bars.
“Thankyou has over 40 products available in 5000 outlets in Australia (including 7 Eleven, Coles and Woolworths). The idea was to take a more holistic approach to combating poverty, with 100% of our profits funding safe water, food and hygiene and sanitation services around the world. In the second half of 2016 we launched Thankyou baby, a nappy and baby care range that funds child and maternal health programs around the globe to empower families in need.”
The fundamentals of being a successful entrepreneur
Know what your strengths are, and what they are not. When you start a business, you’re doing everything from finance to marketing, but as the business grows you need to invest in a team of people who can lead in the areas you can’t and have the skills that you don’t.
It’s also important to invest in software that makes your life easier! We create bold marketing campaigns that can take up to six months to plan, so we use Asana for project management and to make sure we don’t miss anything! To help with finance, we use Xero. I remember Jarryd Burns (Co-founder and Commercial Director) was in the depths of Burundi visiting a project we had funded and was still able to process orders. Before we integrated Xero we’d have to put in extra hours before and after a trip to keep on track, with Xero it was business as usual.
What I wish I’d know before I got started
There are so many things we didn’t know when we first started, but I wouldn’t change that. When we started Thankyou, we had zero business experience, about $1000 between us and a whole lot of passion. We literally googled ‘How to start a bottled water company?’. I think our naivety allowed us to be bold and ask for things that perhaps someone with more experience wouldn’t have. Our naivety was then, and still is today, one of our greatest strengths.
What innovation means to me and the team at Thankyou
We love this saying ‘Who says you have to do things that way they’ve been done before’, and I think that’s core to innovation. To the team at Thankyou innovation means constantly learning and evolving. If you’re not learning, then you’re not innovating.
When we launched Chapter One, we printed it ‘the wrong way around’ (it’s read top to bottom instead of left to right). The innovation in that was two-fold: it was a physical reminder to the reader that to make their ideas a reality they had to get a little uncomfortable; and it tapped into a style of reading that we’re accustomed to (it’s the way we read documents) yet never thought to apply to books. I think it’s important to remember that innovation needs to have the ‘wow’ factor, but it also needs to add value to the customer.