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Better by Design: Thankyou's Daniel Flynn on the need to be childish

Ahead of his talk at the Better by Design CEO Summit 2017, Idealog catches up with Thankyou's Daniel Flynn to discuss his social enterprise and the importance of thinking like a child.

Although they’re based across the ditch, Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn is a big proponent of Aotearoa. “There’s something in New Zealand that seems to ripple around the world,” he says. “New Zealand is a fantastic market, but it is very challenging for consumer brands. To survive in New Zealand, you have to be outstanding.”

But survive is certainly what Thankyou has done. A social enterprise that offers water, food, body care and baby products and gives 100 percent of the profits to help end global poverty, the company has achieved success after nine years in Australia, and is now planning on expanding into the Land of the Long White Cloud. Expansion is important to help further Thankyou’s mission Flynn says, and to do that there’s also a book about the Thankyou journey, Chapter One, which is being sold for a pay-what-you-want price.

Put simply: Flynn believes in people. And that means Thankyou does, too.

“It was a simple idea around the power of consumers,” he explains.

All profits from Thankyou go towards helping end global poverty, Flynn says, with particular areas of focus in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and various Pacific nations. But with all the money make being given away, Flynn says that can create funding challenges – especially when Thankyou doesn’t have any equity partners and doesn’t sell shares of stock. “Innovation on all fronts is important,” Flynn says.

But their efforts are paying off. After all, Thankyou has raised more than $4.6 million Australian dollars for projects that have given over 190,000 people access to water, another 300,000 access to hygiene and sanitation, as well as funding 19.1 million days’ worth of food aid in 17 countries.

And from Thankyou’s journey, Flynn says he’s learned a few tips and tricks along the way to not only stay afloat, but to thrive as an entrepreneur. A key thing, he says, is not to believe that things are impossible, to “keep that naiveté” that children often have. “Innovation is sometimes a bit childish,” he says. “It’s solving things in a non-lateral way. The fear of failure has killed more dreams than the failure itself. We have to remove that fear, and cultivate that child-like thinking.”

Daniel Flynn is one of the speakers at the Better by Design CEO Summit being held 14 and 15 March. You can find tickets to the Summit here.