This CEO sat on a toilet for 50 hours to raise money for sanitation
Few people would say they spend 50 hours in the bathroom. But for Simon Griffiths, it’s all in the name of the company.
The Millennial CEO is content to raise his eyebrows as he increases both funds and awareness for his social impact startup.
Griffiths is a third of the founding team of “Who Gives A Crap”, an Australian company that aims to improve sanitation in developing countries by selling sustainable, everyday hygiene products. For every product sold, such as its flagship toilet paper made from 100% recycled materials, the company donates 50% of its profits to building toilets for people in need.
Founded in 2012, the company was inspired after Griffiths and his co-founders, Jehan Ratnatunga and Danny Alexander, worked with humanitarian organizations around the world and realized a problem two billion people still face: not having access to toilets.
The trio wanted to meet this basic human need by selling something everyone needs: toilet paper.
According to the company, the idea came to Griffiths while he was in the bathroom using toilet paper. Selling toilet paper to make toilets seemed like the perfect answer.
“There are still two billion people without access to toilets, which is why we donate half of our profits to help provide access to clean toilets and clean water,” Griffiths told “ CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia ”.
After two years of developing an ecological and comfortable product, the trio raised $ 50,000 via crowdfunding to pay for their first bulk production.
For their campaign, Griffiths sat on a toilet seat in the team’s empty warehouse and promised via a live stream that he would not stand up until the team reached their goal. of $ 50,000.
“I sit down for what I believe in, and I don’t get up until I have toilet paper,” he said in the team’s crowdfunding video on Indiegogo.
Griffiths spent 50 hours in the bathroom, but the campaign was a success. The founders raised the total amount needed for their first bulk order, delivering their first product in March 2013.
Since then, the company has expanded to the United States and the United Kingdom, opened its first European warehouse and is about to launch in Canada. It has also expanded its product line to include bamboo handkerchiefs, paper towels and a new reusable and washable towel, the Dream Cloth.
Who Gives A Crap was built with the aim of improving sanitation services in developing countries. Specifically, it aims to provide toilets in communities that have never seen one and improve waste disposal so that fewer people are affected by water-borne diseases.
“I can’t imagine going a day without a toilet, let alone the rest of my life,” said Griffiths, describing the toilet as a basic human necessity.
To date, the company has donated over AU $ 10.8 million ($ 7.8 million) to remediation projects.
The trio are also big supporters of adopting sustainable business practices.
One of their goals is to become net zero – that is, when organizations remove more carbon emissions from the atmosphere than they produce.
This mentality comes from being attentive when making big decisions. The company decided to move its factory operations from Australia to China because shipments from China would be eight to ten times more carbon efficient, according to Griffiths. The company says all of its shipments are already carbon neutral. Being carbon neutral means that the company pays for carbon offsets equal to the carbon emissions produced, so that there are no net carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
The flagship toilet paper itself is also made from post-consumer recycled paper – or used paper from offices, schools or notebooks. Each roll is then wrapped in colorful printed paper and the entire product is plastic free.
Crowdfunding aside, Who Gives A Crap has been self-funded for most of its nine-year journey.
But earlier this month, the company managed to raise $ 30 million in external funding from investors, including venture capitalists like Verlinvest, The Craftory, Jamjar Investments and Grok Ventures.
Griffiths said that the increase this support would allow the company to help more people in need.
“When we think about the goal and the problem that we are trying to solve … if we are to put a serious blow on this problem, we have to accelerate the growth that we see today and try to reach as many people as possible. Griffiths said.
“This capital will help accelerate the path we are on and the path to create impact,” he added.
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