Listen: Daniel Flynn chats to Hope Breakfast about his career path to changing the world.
Melbourne man Daniel Flynn was 19 when he realised he had a choice: he could spend his life building a lucrative career, or he could spend it changing the world.
Thankfully for millions of people in the developing world, he did the latter. Daniel teamed up with some friends and began what is now Thankyou. The company pours all of its profits into funding safe water, food and hygiene and sanitation services around the world.
He was driven by the knowledge that 900 million people across the world had no access to clean drinking water, and that 4,500 kids were dying every day from water-borne diseases.
“I just remember at uni, thinking, ‘our world still has some huge social issues’,” Daniel said. “There was a fire within me going, ‘what if I could be part of helping solve that?’ It began with wanting to be part of solving a problem that shouldn’t exist in our world, and figuring out how to do that.”
The Hard Slog: Getting Businesses to Back the Cause
But the path to being a successful social entrepreneur is not an easy one. In a chat to the Hope 103.2 breakfast team during our O-Week Career series, Daniel shared some of the ups and downs of the Thankyou journey.
“There’s just been so many highs and lows,” he said. “And if someone told me how hard it was going to be pre-starting, I may not have got into it! But I think the hardest thing is getting big business and big retailers to buy into the idea.
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“It is so hard, when you go and pitch your heart out.
“After five years, we didn’t have the national presence [we wanted]. They were the hardest moments, when people just didn’t capture the vision.”
How People-Power Got the Big Supermarkets on Board
Watch: How Thankyou got the big supermarket chains to support their cause.
In one of Thankyou’s most famous campaigns, the company was preparing to pitch their idea to Coles and Woolworths, in the hope that the supermarket chains would stock their water, food and body care products. But they needed the support of the public.
With a simple video on Youtube, they asked people to use social media to petition Coles and Woolies to get on board. A flood of public support saw the supermarket giants sign up.
“We had people singing and dancing and rapping, it was so much fun,” Daniel recalled.
“My favourite moment was these two pilots who flew helicopters above the head offices of Coles and Woolies, and they had these huge signs that said ‘Thankyou for changing the world (if you say yes)’.
“It was just an incredible human groundswell of support.”
Today, Thankyou has 46 products on the market and has raised millions of dollars impacting lives around the world.
Why No Problem is Too Big
When you consider that 600 million people still don’t have access to clean drinking water, it can seem like the problem is too big. But Daniel’s philosophy is simple: “Every one life changed or impacted, is so remarkable”.
Even though 1 billion people live in extreme poverty, he reasons, there are 6 billion people who don’t—and those are the people who can make all the difference.
“Our world’s got big problems, but there’s potentially even bigger solutions out there,” Daniel said. “And I think we all need to start, and do something.”
Support the work of Thankyou and find out more about what they do at Thankyou.co.
See the full O-Week interview series below.