A lot of people dream of being able to serve the greater good, but not everyone gets to have a crack at it and actually become successful. Daniel Flynn was one such dreamer, but what makes him different from all those who have kept their ideas is that he did go for it—and it worked.
in 2008, when he was a 19-year-old project management student, Daniel came across statistics that revealed how millions of people around the world—900 million, in fact—still did not have proper access to clean water, despite the many modern day technologies that are readily available. Something clicked in him upon discovering this fact, and from there he set out to launch what will become one of the most commendable and successful entrepreneurial efforts in Australia today.
The Thank You Group
When it first started, Daniel’s endeavour, which he started with some partners, was known as Thank You Water. Their concept was simple: they will provide bottled water as their product, and then the proceeds from its sale will be used to fund efforts in developing nations to get them access to clean, safe water. It was a simple, but very feasible idea, the young team reckoned. After all, Australians are heavy on bottled water consumption, with $600 going to this product alone every year.
Then again, it also seemed unnecessary, especially when folks could still get free, potable tap water everywhere in the country. Could it really be as workable as they thought it would? Based on the numerous bottling companies they initially talked to, it wasn’t. And then they hit their first homerun when a factory manager told them upon hearing their pitch that “bottling water was stupid”, and that he wanted to be part of it.
This cracked open a way for them to get the ball rolling. It did help that this factory manager reassured them not to worry about having to come up with upfront payment, because they can just pay when able, or as they could. Most certainly, it was a huge relief for the team, especially considering how they were told they would need $250,000 to get the business up and running. Collectively, Daniel and his friends had $1,000 among them.
Continuing their search for companies that will support their cause by providing subsidies or small business funding, they gathered their courage and went to the giant packaging company, Visy. Daniel would describe it as their “first serious meeting”. Needless to say, they were intimidated, but at the same time, excited. The support of Visy could be a major game-changer for them. In the end, they were able to secure a pledge of a one-off donation for 30,000 bottles, plus a unique bottle shape absolutely for free.
After that, they secured a donation of $20,000 from their business mentor upon hearing the progress of the Thank You Water project. They were still a long way to go, but it was much better than nothing.
It wasn’t smooth-sailing from that point on, of course, but what these developments did for them was to further encourage them that they were making slow but sure steps in the right direction. Daniel claims that the pre-production was the “easy” part; finding distributors and traction in the cutthroat real world of business, however, was a different story altogether.
The Business Evolution
Six years on, they are stocked in major Australian retailers such as Australia Post, Coles, Woolworths, and 7-11, and have now matured into the Thank You Group. Most importantly, they have been steadfast in their mission-vision to help developing nations provide clean water to their people.
As of 2014, they have already helped 67,000 people in various locations through the funding they provide for the safe water projects. About 62,000 people have received education and training in health and hygiene, and they have also expanded their project to including food aid in their list of supported programs. To date, $60,000 worth of food aid have been funded by the group.
It’s not only the scope of their social cause that have expanded, but their products, too. Aside from bottled water, they now also have food and body care products. A continued expansion such as this only proves how a small start-up business can successfully transition and grow positively given the right motivation and commitment.
In 2013, Daniel was named the Victorian Young Achiever of the Year, while in 2014, he was recognised as Victorian Young Australian of the Year. He was also made an honouree for 2014’s JCI Ten Young Outstanding People of the World Program.
Given these accolades, and if only for the fact that his humble water project has continued to serve the purpose it originally intended, it’s safe to say that many budding entrepreneurs are eager to get some start-up tips from Daniel.
For one, those who get to talk to him will most likely be told that “Impossibility is someone’s opinion, not a fact.” Daniel strongly adheres to this belief, which is why he forged on ahead with the water project, despite the many, many setbacks they encountered in its formative years.
Aside from this, however, he reckons that young entrepreneurs should not let their age or money (or lack thereof) hinder them from going after what they want. According to Daniel, if people were to wait until they have “enough” money before they start on their business, then they would have to wait until they are about 50.
This need not be the case, however, as there certainly are business lending companies out there who do offer small business loans. Getting help from these institutions can help get the ball rolling, which could also lead to Daniel’s other tip. It may be hard to get the momentum at the start, but once you do have it, make sure to do everything you can to sustain it.
Getting fast business loans may not always be possible, but with the right help from the right companies or institutions, it can definitely be achieved.
What Daniel Flynn and his team have showed us is that no vision is too big—not when you have a committed team by your side to help you achieve your goal, and not when you have the perseverance to sell your ideas to those who can make it a reality.