Irish start-up Amplify Donations helps climate-conscious shoppers decide where their donations go and achieve the most bang per buck.
Over the next few weeks, we are shining a spotlight on social enterprises, to share more about the fascinating world of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in Ireland.
Last week we spoke to Fiona Descoteaux, CEO of Innovate Communities, who talked about the important role that social enterprise and innovation plays in Irish society.
“One silver lining from the pandemic was the accelerated consumer shift towards sustainability”
Today we are talking to David Beakey from Amplify, a climate donation app for sustainable bands and conscious shoppers that “amplifies” the positive impact of sustainable spending.
What is your social enterprise all about?
Amplify is a climate donation app for sustainable brands and conscious shoppers that amplifies the positive impact of sustainable spending. We partner with a network of sustainable brands and enable their customers to earn free donations for climate causes, every time they shop with any brand in our network. Using Amplify as a shopper is really simple. You sign up for free on our website and then shop as normal, and the brand donates 2% of your spending total at no added cost to you. What makes Amplify different is that the customer decides where the donations go, not the brand. This means conscious shoppers can support causes that they care about, while sustainable brands can align their donations with the personal values of every customer.
How did your business journey begin? Where did the idea come from and how did you start?
My co-founder, Conor O Laoire, and I were both working for early stage tech start-ups in Austin, Texas where we both really got the entrepreneurial itch to start something ourselves. When we returned home, we wanted to apply our tech experience to build something together in the sustainability space.
We initially created a mobile app for coffee drinkers that rewarded using reusable cups instead of disposable ones. After almost a year of development, we were ready to launch a pilot with a number of cafes around Ireland, and then Covid hit.
Overnight, every cafe in Ireland shut its doors and our business was turned upside down. We decided we had to pivot but we really wanted to stay within the climate action space.
One silver lining from the pandemic was the accelerated consumer shift towards sustainability which was really starting to pick up pace. Ultimately, we felt we wanted to empower those conscious consumers in their fight against climate change, and climate donations seemed like the perfect fit. After another year of development, Amplify launched in late 2021 with a network of sustainable brands and climate charities across Ireland and the UK.
How has Innovate Communities supported your business?
The support of Innovate Communities came at a pivotal moment in our journey. After the pandemic derailed our initial business, we were still figuring out our next move when we discovered the Incubate For Growth programme. Amid all of the chaos, Innovate Communities supported us with free desk space, access to mentors, and ongoing support from their wonderful team. I cannot stress enough how beneficial the programme was in the early stages of our businesses.
Have you received any other supports along the way?
We went on to participate in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, which allowed us to further develop both the business model and ourselves as entrepreneurs. Shortly afterwards, we were selected for Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start Fund (CSF), receiving initial investment which has supported the development of the business in its early stages.
Why is sustainability and having a social conscience important in business?
There’s no doubt that sustainability has become a key strategic factor for businesses, which is hugely encouraging. Sustainability and transparency have become expectations of today’s consumer, and businesses have to either adapt or risk being left behind. Hence, we’re seeing large established corporations taking steps to be more sustainable, while younger companies are now building sustainability into their business model, rather than retrofitting it.
The benefits don’t stop at meeting customer expectations though. Adopting sustainable processes can benefit the longevity and bottom line of a business. For example, changing processes that help to cut down on waste, water, and energy can decrease costs over time. Furthermore, sustainability is important in attracting the top talent. Just like consumers, employees are also looking for employers that align with their values too.
What is next for you and your business in 2022?
Our immediate focus is on building our brand and consumer network in the UK and Ireland, which is really exciting for us because there is such an appetite for sustainability here, and so many innovative brands are popping up. But we’ve also had a lot of early traction from organisations in the US, which is obviously an enormous market with so much potential for us. So, expanding beyond Europe is certainly within our plans for 2022. Stay tuned!