Business Advice sat down with the founder of Good-Loop, Amy Williams, to find out how her adtech startup has put social responsibility at the heart of corporate advertising, and why the perfect co-founder is central to business success.
Who are you and what is your business?
My name is Amy Williams and I am founder and CEO of Good-Loop, an adtech startup platform which converts ad money into free charity donations, whilst delivering better ROI on ad spend. I set up the company with my co-founder in 2016.
Where did the idea for Good-Loop come from?
I started my career working in a big global advertising agency and I was really inspired by the growing trend of purpose-driven marketing. It’s something that’s really been championed by Unilever over the past few years, for example, as they consistently have proved that their social brands grow faster than their non-social brands.
Purpose marketing turns social impact into a competitive advantage, and when these big corporate giants start thinking about their ethical and social responsibility, they have the reach and scale to make a huge amount of positive change.
After this experience, I flew to Argentina and started volunteering with an awesome children’s charity in Buenos Aires. These guys were feeding 30 kids on a tenner a week and I was struck by how vastly different this was from the world I came from – a world where companies are spending billions a year on online ads.
But all this money just passes from one big conglomerate to another, buying and selling the cheap commodity of our attention, time and data online, making very little positive impact along the way.
I decided to re-design this system to make online advertising that’s not only better for advertisers and better for the people experiencing these ads online – but also advertising that’s genuinely a force for good in the world.
What was key in terms of getting started?
The key was finding my co-founder.
I had an idea and I knew the commercial landscape well, but I needed someone who could turn Good-Loop from a lofty concept into a competitive, sophisticated and intelligent adtech product.
I posted a job listing on workinstartups.com and Daniel Winterstein replied. He’d built adtech platforms before, using cutting-edge AI to deliver ad targeting for big household names. He was looking for a more fulfilling outlet for his talents and so got in touch. As soon as we were a founding team, we had credibility with investors and this was really the key to getting off the ground.
What makes Good-Loop unique?
Good-Loop is different because we treat online user control as an asset rather than an inconvenience. Through Good-Loop, advertisers won’t talk to you if you don’t want them to. But if you do choose the give them some of your time and attention, in return you get to give half of their money to a charity of your choice.
By creating this fair value exchange between advertisers and their consumers, we deliver higher engagement and ROI on the ads, we create more value for the online publishers who display our ads, and we convert ad money into a sustainable source of charitable funding.
How does Good-Loop make money?
Essentially, we sell to advertisers the opportunity to distribute their video advertising, whilst aligning that video advertising with the social causes their consumers most care about. We give 50 per cent of our income to charity and divide the other 50 per cent between ourselves and our publisher partners.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
We’ve had to constantly battle against a misconception that doing good in the world makes a business less profitable, less scalable and less investable. Fundamentally with Good-Loop, doing good makes good business sense. And for our advertisers, funding good social causes makes their advertising more effective.
The social aspect of our business isn’t a “nice to have”. The social aspect is a fundamental competitive advantage in an industry full of distrust and opacity.
What is your proudest business achievement?
Completing a successful trial with our first Unilever brand, Knorr which was facilitated by Unilever’s startup collaboration platform Unilever Foundry. In April, Knorr ran their first ever Good-Loop campaign featuring their most recent video advert.
People could opt-in to watch the Knorr ad and after 15 seconds, the user could “unlock” a free donation, funded by Knorr, and choose to give it to WaterAid, The Trussel Trust or The People’s Kitchen. Knorr is a sustainable brand and they already partner with charities such as The Trussel Trust to tackle UK hunger, so it was great that they were able to use the Good-Loop platform to elevate this worthy mission.
What marketing tips could you hand down to smaller companies?
PR and word-of-mouth both work really well for us. Good-Loop is quite unique within the advertising space and I find that people are quite keen to get in touch and find out more.
In five years’ time, I will be…
Managing Good-Loop at an international level, having generated millions of pounds in free donations to amazing charitable causes around the world.
Who are your business heroes and why?
I’m always inspired when I hear the stories of other female founders in the tech space. Powerhouses like Jess Butcher, Sarah Wood, Emma Sinclair, Emily Forbes and Jude Ower – these guys have built flourishing business whilst driving the debate on gender equality in tech. I believe you can be what you see, and these role models reassure me that I can do this too.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Tell everyone about your idea. Buy everyone you know a coffee, ask for advice, feedback and criticism and most important of all, ask them if they know anyone else who you should speak to. Your network is invaluable in the early days and you never know when you might meet your co-founder or first customer.
Growing up close to Bournville’s Cadbury factory, James Cadbury understands the importance of tradition in our confectionary brands. With Love Cocoa, he’s looking to make British chocolate great again.
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