Thankyou, the social enterprise business which sells water and food products to fight global poverty, is launching a new baby range and expanding into New Zealand.
The company forecasts the plans will cost $1.2 million.
To fund the expansion, co-founder Daniel Flynn has written a book about the business and its startup challenges, offering advice based on the lessons they learned.
And he’s taken another huge risk with the book book, selling it via a “pay what you want” model, which means people can pay $2.50 or $25,000. It’s up to them.
The company pre-ordered 80,000 copies in the hope it will meet its fundraising target, and is once again putting its faith in the kindness of others to succeed.
So why risk it?
According to Flynn, it’s Thankyou’s guiding philosophy.
“You have to be willing to take a risk,” he said from a warehouse where he, along with his co-founders and other volunteers, are packing and dispatching books to buyers.
They plan to do this for eight hours a day, five days a week until reaching their goal.
Watch the live stream from the warehouse here.
“This campaign is about Thankyou but it’s also about waking up the dreamer, and the social part in every person,” Flynn says.
Since launching the campaign on Friday, Thankyou has raised $461,845 from 10,462 copies, making two sales per minute.
While the books are averaging out at $40-$50 per sale — they only cost the company $3.50 to make — one person has even paid a record $1,000 a book.
Along with individual sales, the books have been sold in bulk to companies and 52 bookstores, including Relay, Newslink and Watermark chains, which make up most of the bookstores in airports across Australia and New Zealand.
The campaign has not been without challenges.
On the night of the launch, the website crashed due to the high volume of orders coming in.
“There was a lot of support which was really good, but people couldn’t place their orders,” said Flynn.
“That was exciting and a bit disappointing but we’ve been working on it over the weekend and its back up and running now, and orders are coming through steadily.”
The book, titled Chapter One, is designed to challenge the reader, but in more ways than it’s compelling content.
“In the book space it’s completely unconventional, and I suppose there’s a risk in that, but everything we wanted to do with this book was about challenging conventions,” says Flynn.
“We definitely haven’t learned everything yet but anything we have, we want to give to others for their own journey.
“This book, we think, is a tool to help others challenge their thinking within their own story, whether that be business, or as a teacher or doctor, or student, and the book has multiple challenges to the reader.
“Challenge number one is it’s pay what you want. So you have to put the value you want on this book. Challenge two of the book is the layout. It’s printed horizontally, as opposed to landscape, so the spine is at the top as you read.
“We know it will make the reader feel a little uncomfortable at first but the premise of the book is to make ideas and dream a reality, and that you have to be comfortable to get uncomfortable. And you’ve also got to be willing to challenge your thinking regularly, which this book will every time you pick it up – literally because it’s not what you’re used to.
“That in itself lies the greatest thing we’ve ever learned at Thankyou: that you’ve got to be willing to take that risk to do something that people haven’t done before.
“I suppose we risk the fact that you will never read our story but we know that this is the most important thing we have ever learned and so we’ll take the risk again.”
Despite only being a couple of days in, the initial response has been amazing, according to Flynn, but because he is yet to receive the complete deck of sales analytics, it’s still too soon to tell whether the risk has paid off.
“It’s early days,” he says. “Initially over the weekend we were so exited by the campaign but today, day five, we’re still exited but the reality has kicked in that this is going to be a pretty big mountain that we’re climbing.
“I think a lot of Thankyou supporters have already participated, which is amazing, it just now means those who haven’t heard of Thankyou, we’re going to need to involve them in some way,” he said.
“People who have read the book are doing great reviews and sharing them, it’s almost like it’s organically happening through supporters of Thankyou,” he said adding that the campaigns video has also played a major role in spreading the word about the book.
The video has already amassed 282k views on the company’s Facebook page, and has been shared almost 8,000 times.
See it here.
So, what’s next?
Once Thankyou has reached its first two targets of raising $600,000 for the baby care range and the same amount to fund its expansion into New Zealand, it will announce its third misson, which Flynn is currently keeping under wraps.
Whatever it is, he says it will be complemented by “Chapter Two” — the next installment of the Thankyou journey.