An idea alone – even a great one – isn’t worth much, its value is found within its execution. That’s how the Thankyou story began, with an ambitious idea and a deep resolve to make it into a reality.
Thirteen years ago, I came across two shocking statistics.
The first one: children around the world were (and still are) dying from waterborne diseases. The second one: the world bottled water industry was worth around $50 billion - and today, is worth almost a whopping $160 billion.
Once I saw these facts, I couldn’t unsee them. It led us, as co-founders, to dream. We believed that we, humanity, should and could help bridge these numbers. We became convinced that a small group of people, and an idea, might actually make a real and positive difference.
The ambition to change the world
See, when we’re young, we don’t understand how different systems in society work. But over time, society teaches us what ‘lines you must stay between’, or what boxes you must think within, and what can and can’t be done.
We’d had a lightbulb moment: what if there was a brand that empowered us, consumers, to take the money that was already being spent and use it to right a wrong in this world? To fix an injustice so big, it shouldn’t exist.
Transforming vision into reality
The approach was simple; instead of the profits from the bottled water industry lining shareholder pockets, the funds would go towards life-changing water projects in developing nations, helping to fund communities living in poverty by changing the system.
It made sense to us. Surely this simple idea would be easy to execute – right? Wrong. After meeting with numerous factories and spending hours researching how to start a (what we now know is called) a social enterprise, we realised it was no easy feat. Some were saying it was impossible. But this is where we learnt that impossibility is only someone’s opinion, not a fact.
So, in 2008 we started Thankyou. Our idea was to empower people to choose a product that existed all-for ending extreme poverty.
While many people asked ‘what if it doesn’t work?’, we began challenging a billion dollar industry by questioning ‘but what if it does?’.
Despite the initial (and still on-going) pushback from industry experts, we weren’t willing to let the idea die. We’ve since seen it grow from a small start-up, to one of Australia’s leading social enterprises, and to date, Thankyou has raised over $17 million to impact the lives of people across 22 countries.
Now, more than ever, we’re convinced that the world needs change. There is a $2.5 trillion funding gap to end extreme poverty (per annum until 2030), while collectively, as consumers we’re spending $63 trillion each year on consumer goods and services. Thankyou is an idea that exists to bridge the gap between these statistics, and we know that we must be willing to forge bold paths forward to get there.
Along our journey we’ve learnt the power of purpose. Sometimes an ambitious idea can feel like too much to take on, but we’ve learnt that persevering through the more difficult times is about knowing our why. We believe that the ‘why’ behind what you do, the dreams and the paths you choose, are profoundly personal to you. If you’re looking for your purpose, we believe it can be found within the significant and small moments in your life.
For us, our vision is to see a world where not one person lives in extreme poverty. Along the way, we’ve had to choose to remember our ‘why’ and remind ourselves of this vision. In the early days, we skipped a lot of the ‘normal’ young people stuff. For three years, we volunteered our time and worked two jobs to fund the dream. The sacrifices back then, and even now are tough, but because we believe in this vision, and deeply know our purpose, we are willing, no matter what it takes– to continue to get up and go again.
We also take time to remind each other to get out of our comfort zone and to not let fear stop us. The reward of seeing your ideas or dreams become reality should far outweigh the risk. When was the last time you got uncomfortable? We believe that to make your dreams a reality, you’ve got to take bold chances and put yourself out there– because what if your idea works?
Fuelling the power of purpose
We don’t have massive marketing budgets, and with such a lean team at Thankyou, many often ask us, “what’s the secret?”. The answer is simple; our purpose. When a person is driven by purpose, nothing will stop them. They’ll make the best product of their career. They will bring their best out-of-the-box ideas forward for a campaign. They will design the best work they’ve ever designed. Why? Because ‘purpose’ is deep. It’s personal, and it’s the reason we each contribute our best to the world.
Purpose drives you to step out in front of the world and risk it all. Purpose moves you to make calls with short term commercial pain for long term humanity gain. Purpose isn’t the marketing on the outside, or the mantra from the top down; purpose is the fuel on the inside.
Your ambition is a long game. It might take time to recognise, but when you know why you do what you do – and when it goes deep – it will get you up again and again. We believe that the change we want to see in the world starts on the inside.