Here's how identifying an opportunity and acting fast might see this Aussie startup get its products on Virgin planes

Photo: supplied.

This week Virgin Australia announced it was bringing back complimentary in-flight food for domestic flights to match the Qantas full service offering.

The airline took to its Facebook and asked consumers to tag in brands that they would like to see on the menu.

One brand which has attracted considerable attention is Thankyou – which donates the money from its products’ sales into partnerships with charitable projects (so far it has given $2.2 million to projects spanning 14 countries).

As of last night, there were over 1700 comments on Virgin Australia’s post – over 900 were people asking for Virgin to stock Thankyou products, making it by far the most popular choice among consumers.

After seeing the #ichoosethankyou movement on the Virgin page, co-founder Daniel Flynn tweeted Richard Branson, producing another a wave of social media traction including support from blogger Dani Stevens (a top 100 Twitter tech influencer) and Geoff De Weaver (a top 1% on LinkedIn), both with over one million followers.

But what came next was the lightbulb moment for Flynn.

He and his team saw what was happening, and as more people jumped on the bandwagon, they knew they needed to take advantage of the opportunity – and fast.

“This deal would literally change thousands of lives with access to immediate food aid and long-term food solutions,” said Flynn, “[so] the team came up with a bold idea to amplify the opportunity.”

“We spoke to our friends at Running Boards, and created a digital message on a truck that we parked out the front of the Virgin Australian offices in Brisbane.

It read: “Hey Richard, love the question your team posted on Facebook, looks like there’s a truckload of support for Thankyou. #ichoosethankyou”.

Virgin reposted it to their 463,000 followers.

“The thing is, this isn’t a campaign; it wasn’t in our marketing plan,” he said, “But because as a team we are fast and fun, we had the opportunity to see a post on Wednesday that sparked our interest, share it on Thursday and then carry out a bold idea to make a big impact on Friday.”

Business Insider asked Flynn what he has learned from the experience and why jumping on an opportunity like this is so important for startups.

“Being fast is key. As a business we are busy. We are never idle. But when we realised the potential of this opportunity we knew we had to jump on it. As a team we understood that no matter what we were working on, this had to take priority,” he said.

“If you’re wanting to get a remarkable result, you’ve got to be willing to take a risk. It was an epic day and it’s crazy that we made an estimated 3.5 million impressions across social media. But more importantly we are that one step closer to taking Thankyou’s products and impact sky high.

“We happened to have an external business consultant doing a full day workshop with half our team while this was all going down, Jean-Yves Heude, a former Managing Director of Kelloggs, Australia and New Zealand. He said: ‘In my 32 years of international experience in big blue chip companies, I have never seen a team able to seize an opportunity, build and execute a communications campaign in less than 24 hours!’”

Here are the three crucial moments, that Flynn took advantage of to make this all happen.

We made a fast call because we saw an opportunity.

The call had some risks and it could have made us look a bit silly. Three or four other brands also shared the Virgin Australia post to their networks and received about 10 comments supporting them. So what if we shared it and only had a few responses? Would they think there isn’t a demand for Thankyou products?

When we made the quick decision to share the post on our Facebook account, we saw the support from our community and momentum started to build. That’s when we decided this could be big and we needed to put everything on hold to amplify it.

We reached out to our community to back us.

We could have looked at all the obstacles to stop us from moving forward, but instead we thought ‘how can we make this happen?’

Through brainstorming we were able to quickly assess if this would be beneficial for us to pursue and then how, given the time frames.

We trusted our instincts and made bold, strategic moves.

We figured out what our objectives were, what our strategy was and then carried it out using educated, quick decision making.

After I tweeted Richard Branson… We reached out to Running Boards who supported us with a digital truck. They had a one hour free spot on the billboard from 12:30-1:30. We found that out at 12:30! So we moved fast, and got our design team to put together the artwork, organised video graphemes and photographers as well as some media to turn up to shoot it, 30 minutes later we had a stunt.

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