This interview was conducted for the Food Innovators by Food-X Podcast.
Audio Title: Interview with Amp Your Good Founder Patrick O’Neill by FOOD-X MD Andrew Ive
Duration Transcribed: 0:46:53
Speakers: Patrick O’Neill , Andrew Ive
Andrew Ive: OK. Good morning.
Patrick O’Neill: Hey, good morning.
Andrew Ive: So, tell me what’s going. What’s happening? Tell me a bit about your company and let’s get going. I know you got a hard deadline in about 45 minutes. So we’ll crack on.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, sure. So Amp Your Good is a crowdfeeding company.
Andrew Ive: Sorry. You ran through that really quickly. Amp …
Patrick O’Neill: Amp Your Good, our company’s name is Amp Your Good.
Andrew Ive: OK. So A-M-P Y-O-U-R G-O-O-D?
Patrick O’Neill: Yes, that’s right. That’s right. So our website is AmpYourGood.com.
Andrew Ive: Perfect.
Patrick O’Neill: And we’re a crowdfeeding company. And that means that we’re in the business of getting healthy food to people who are struggling with food insecurity.
Andrew Ive: OK. So crowdfeeding …
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, crowdfeeding.
Andrew Ive: OK, cool. Is this something that you guys kind of coined or is this – is there a movement there around crowdfeeding that you’re a part of? How did that come about?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. So – well, we coined the term really to provide a reference to people using – who are familiar with crowdfunding because what we do is we host a very particular kind of campaign, food drive campaigns. And we make it very easy for all the different kinds of groups that run food drive campaigns. And so, we’re talking about companies, faith-based organizations, schools. In the United States, there are literally millions of millions of these food drives that are organized by these groups. And we make them really easy to run and we fix one of the big problems with those kinds of drives.
For those who have participated in a food drive before, we all know what you donate to those drives are canned goods. And a lot of the cans that people donate, they get from their pantry and they’re usually outdated so they actually can’t be used to feed anyone.
But the other thing is that a lot of the people who are struggling with food insecurity are actually dealing with health issues that are diet-related, things like obesity and diabetes. And canned goods usually are not really the kinds of food that are best to help them. Fresh produce, other healthier kinds of food are the things that are going to make a big impact.
And so, organizations use our platform to run an online food drive where they can donate healthier food and have a bigger impact.
Andrew Ive: OK. So you guys coined the term crowdfeeding and I’m going to dip into this briefly. There’s an industry or there’s a kind of community across the US that have organized businesses that are just focused on matching together people who want to donate food and people who need the food.
I mean the only experience I’ve ever had of this, I’m going to be very, very frank with you is my – either my school when I was a kid or my church saying to me, “Hey, it’s that time of year again.” And it’s typically kind of – is it spring?
Patrick O’Neill: The holidays is probably the most common time when groups do food drives.
Andrew Ive: So kind of thanksgiving and that sort of thing.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah.
Andrew Ive: So – and then we kind of as you say, we dip into our cabinets and we pick – go to the right –right at the back of the shelf and we find that spaghetti can that nobody likes very much and it’s very dusty and it’s probably about three years out of date. But that’s not the industry that’s actually kind of a very organized infrastructure here?
Patrick O’Neill: Well actually, we developed our platform because there hasn’t been an organized systemic way for these things to happen. These millions of food drives that I’m referring to are really – they’re self-organized by these groups usually with some guidance from the hunger organizations that they want to support.
And then I’ll take you through the number just to maybe kind of round out the system or the market that we think about. You’ve got about 75 million people here in the US that make at least one food donation every year to a food drive, and that’s to one of millions of food drives. Those food drives are all supporting about 90,000 hunger organizations, all soup kitchens and food pantries and food banks that are spread around the country.
Andrew Ive: So 90,000 organizations focused on feeding the hungry in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. And it’s a shame but there are between 45 and 50 million people, that’s roughly 1 in 6, 1 in 7-ish, 1 in 4 children are reliant in part, sometimes in full on these hunger organizations to get the food that they need to eat.
Andrew Ive: I didn’t realize it was that pervasive.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, it’s a huge social issue and there are a lot of people working on it. Our basic thought was that it’s great news that there are so many people who are connected to supporting the cause, the 75 million people that make food donations and it’s fantastic that you got millions of groups that sponsor food drives. So that’s really a significant number of people and organizations that want to help.
And unfortunately, the traditional food drive model that everybody uses where somebody puts a collection box out and they ask people to bring canned goods to it isn’t really a very efficient or a very effective way to maximize the good intentions that all these people have because there’s really a big mismatch between what people donate and the kind of food that’s really going to have an impact on these people who are struggling with hunger.
Andrew Ive: But does that food get there? I mean I know that with some of these sort of charities and supply chains, a certain percentage is wasted, a certain percentage is lost or stolen or I don’t know, whatever. Is it – is your premise that it’s the wrong kind of food or is it not an efficient system so not everything is getting to the people that need to get it or is it all of the above?
Patrick O’Neill: I think it’s probably some mix. But we’re focused on the part of the system that connects the people who are wanting to help, the donors, and getting food to the places where it gets distributed. So, getting it to that food pantry.
And once the food is at a food pantry, we presume and I think it’s very fair to say that the food pantries are going to do its job and distribute that food to people who are really in need.
Andrew Ive: So those people – so the traditional way when you have a box filled with cans and you go and take it to a food bank, whatever, how is that different?
Patrick O’Neill: So the way our system works is similar to a crowdfunding site, when a group wants to use our platform, we set up a webpage for them that has information about the food drive campaign that they’re running. And when they reach out to their community, let’s say it’s a company, instead of asking employees or business to business relationships or customers to bring food into the office where there’s a collection box, they instead give them the address of the webpage on our platform and people go to that page. And if they’re inclined to donate, they hit the donate button.
And what appears for them then are food items. Food items that they can purchase from us that we will deliver for them to that food pantry that’s supposed to get the food. And the food items that appear are based on data that we collect from that food pantry in terms of the kinds of things that they were looking for.
Andrew Ive: OK.
Patrick O’Neill: So it operates essentially like a wedding registry. But importantly, we’re not limited to nonperishable food because we’re not dealing with a collection box that’s situated some place. Traditional drives are limited to nonperishable food because that food that you put in that collection box is going to sit there for a while before it gets to a food pantry.
In our case, we are – when a drive is over, we take all the food that people have purchased from us and we coordinate with one of our wholesale suppliers who delivers that food as a bulk delivery to that food pantry. And so, we don’t have a collection box which means that when we place our food order with our wholesaler, they are delivering directly from their refrigerated warehouse, perishable food directly to that food pantry.
Andrew Ive: OK. So a) the food bank or organization that’s needing the food can specify what they specifically need, what they need, what there’s a shortage of and what ultimately their uses, I’m not sure – customers. But I’m not sure how you define them. So they defined what they specifically need and then you guys do the transaction based on what people are selecting and that’s given to that food bank.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. We’re taking – instead of putting donors in the position of sort of guessing what they think might help, we reverse engineer the information flow and we collect that from the food pantry organization. And so when somebody goes to donate, they’ve got choices they can make. There will be a number of different items they can pick from so that they feel like they have a choice. But we’re putting them in a lane that no matter what choice they make, they’re making a good choice. They are going to be donating something that that organization is saying that they really need.
Andrew Ive: OK. And so that means ultimately, the right thing to get into the right people. It’s not that they’re getting a big box of dusty cans and a certain percentage of those cans will get thrown away because they’re in excess or expired, et cetera, et cetera. It’s actually as you say, joining up what they need with the people’s willingness to donate.
Patrick O’Neill: Exactly. Exactly.
Andrew Ive: OK. So when did you guys start Amp Your Good?
Patrick O’Neill: So we started to develop the platform in 2014 and we launched a beta platform in the fall of 2014 to really take advantage of the fact that in the months of October and November and December, there is more groups that do food drives than other time of the year. And we wanted to get some groups using our site, really testing it out in real time, all the usual things. We’re seeking feedback from groups and whatnot. So out beta period ran through the summer of 2015 and then we did a full launch this past September.
Andrew Ive: OK. And does that mean then that you guys particularly inundated with folks around 2, 3, 4, 5 months a year but the rest of the year, it’s actually tough to kind of make this work?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, the natural flow or the natural cycle of food drive activity, so it peaks in the last 3 months of the year. That probably accounts for maybe 40 to 50% of all food drives. The other peak period is the spring time, March, April, and May. January and February, June, July and August are pretty slow months from a food drive perspective.
But what we’re seeing is while there is natural seasonality to the market as it exists, there is interest in having food drives occurring in slower periods because from the hunger organization’s perspective, there’s a flow of food inventory that they get from these food drives makes it harder for them to manage their operations because they’ve got for instance plenty of food to distribute in October, November and December and probably some overflow that gets them into January.
But by now, we’re talking here in February, most of these organizations are starting to run pretty thin on their food supplies. And one of the reasons that groups tend not to do food drives in the winter time is it’s really a combination of so many groups sort of feel like they did their part during the holiday period and they’re going to take a break. But in many areas of the country, it’s harder to run winter food drives because of winter weather conditions.
And so we actually right now have a quite a few groups that are running winter food drives because they understand that the hunger organization that they want to support could really better use the food now because their supplies are low. And we’ve got groups in California, Connecticut, Virginia, a few other places around the country that are specifically running winter food drives.
Andrew Ive: Now, one of the things I – my wife and family and I we do is a kind of monthly subscription if you like to particular charities. A certain percentage of our income that goes to – I mean we have an interest in charities that relate to children and to dogs. I mean random. But it’s a monthly subscription. It’s not, “OK, we feel bad about it in November so we’re going to do – we’re going to send lots of doughnuts to somebody in November.” It’s actually something we kind of take a certain percentage and do every month.
Is there that facility within your system yet or at some point in the future?
Patrick O’Neill: Yup.
Andrew Ive: So that you can even out that flow to some degree?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. Well, that’s a great observation. And we don’t have that built into our platform now but we have been lining up a couple of groups who are interested in a subscription model. In fact, there’s a lot of groups that actually donate food essentially on a physical subscription basis because whether it’s your church or maybe your company, it might be the fourth Sunday of the month you’re bringing some food when you go to church or the fourth Friday of the month, that’s when you bring some food into the company food drive.
So that kind of repetitive monthly recurring activity occurs already with some groups. And so, we’re going to be adding a subscription model into the platform probably within the next quarter having already had a couple of groups ready to promote that within their community once we do.
Andrew Ive: OK. So you also mentioned in the beginning that you guys purchased – you kind of take the bundle transactions or donations that people are making and then you purchase it from a wholesaler who then takes that product fresh and delivers it directly to the food bank.
Patrick O’Neill: That’s correct.
Andrew Ive: Is this – so is this a charity or is this a for-profit organization, Amp Your Good?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. So we’re organized as a for-profit company.
Andrew Ive: OK.
Patrick O’Neill: And our model is very simple. When people are buying food on our site, they’re paying a retail price for it. And as you just noted, we’re sourcing it from wholesalers. So we’re sourcing it at a wholesale price and we have a retail-wholesale model. That’s the only way that we monetize what we’re doing.
And I say that because when groups are using our site to run their food drives, there was no charge for that. We don’t tuck on any kind of delivery fees. So when somebody is buying food on our site, they’re doing it through a standard e-commerce checkout process and they don’t get to the final checkout point and find out that there’s a $5 delivery charge.
So for the same price that they would pay if they went to the supermarket to buy some food and then take it to a collection box or over to a food pantry for that same price, we’re going to deliver the food for them, we’re going to ensure that it matches what that hunger organization needs, and we’re going to do something that they just literally can’t do in connection with their traditional food drive which is they can donate fresh fruits and vegetables which traditional drives can’t provide vehicle for.
Andrew Ive: So Amp Your Good doesn’t charge the food banks for anything.
Patrick O’Neill: That’s right.
Andrew Ive: OK. It doesn’t charge the person who is donating any form of service charge, any form of fees or whatever. What it does do is because of bulk purchasing from wholesalers, it’s able to get a somewhat lesser price than you would pay if you went directly to a supermarket and you guys are taking a little piece of that.
Patrick O’Neill: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.
Andrew Ive: OK. And obviously if I’m a consumer, I don’t have to go spend my afternoon walking up and down a supermarket aisle putting things in boxes and then driving my hybrid Prius, not that I drive a hybrid Prius, but I’m talking about your ideal consumer.
Patrick O’Neill: Sure.
Andrew Ive: That hybrid Prius to the 5, 10, 15 miles away to the local food bank.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, that’s right. And you’re touching on something that is in a roll to what we’ve developed, which is convenience. From a donor’s standpoint, we make it extraordinarily convenient to participate in a food drive because you don’t have to go to the store or you don’t have to pull something from your pantry and drive over to a collection point.
In fact, what has been interesting based on the activity we’ve had on the site so far is that the average food donation is somebody buying over $50 worth of food to donate to the food drive that they’re participating in. And we like to say that that’s probably somewhere in the maybe 3 to 4 bags of groceries worth of food. Of course, that depends on what actually goes in the bag. But I think most people will understand undoubtedly when they think about, “Well, what’s the typical amount of food that somebody brings to a food drive?”
My wife and I and four kids and we’ve been involved in many, many school food drives and our practice with those drives is that the kids, they have their backpacks and the books go in first and lunch goes in next and then put a couple of cans in at the top of the backpack that they bring in for the school food drives. If we’re bringing something to the church drive, maybe we’ll bring a bag of groceries. But I’ve never had anybody tell me yet as I talk about this part of what we do, tell me that they’ve seen somebody walking to the office, walking to the school with 3 or 4 bags of groceries under their arms.
And so, it turns out that for traditional food drives, what people donate tends to be limited by convenience. What can I reasonably carry into the office or to church or to school? But what our system does, it eliminates the carrying part because we effectively do that for someone and it only limits them by their financial capacity and intention to help. So we see people who are donating a lot more than they would typically donate to a regular food drive.
Andrew Ive: OK. So tell me about some of the successes. Tell me what impact you guys have been having since I don’t know, what was your launch date?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. So we launched in September. And the metrics that we think are worth sharing is that through our system, groups have raised over 25 tons of food, 100% of it matched up with what the hunger organizations are looking for. Our footprint of where we’re active has expanded from the Greater New York City area which is where we’re based and we’ve got between drives that are happening right now and drives that are happening since we launched, we are active coast to coast. And we’re as far as south as Florida, as far southwest as Arizona. We’re actually in discussions now with a large group in Canada that would like to bring our platform into Canada later on this spring. So, we’ve been expanding in terms of our geographical reach pretty quickly.
Andrew Ive: So I went to your website and I think I saw three campaigns. Are they more than that and they’re just the featured ones or …
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. Those are – we carry typically three featured campaigns on the homepage. And there are more drives of course than what the featured ones are.
Andrew Ive: OK. Where do I see them on the left side? Because I did try and kind of scout around and I think I didn’t get it. So if other people are looking, where did they go and find the campaigns that you guys have?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, right now, we don’t have a general search feature built into the site. The primary way that drives get support is from the community that the drive is connected to. So for instance, a school does a drive and they’re sending people directly to that …
Andrew Ive: And so the first nice link?
Patrick O’Neill: Yes. Yes.
Andrew Ive: OK. They’re on kind of a specific link and then they go send that to that community and say, “Hey guys, support this.”
Patrick O’Neill: That’s right.
Andrew Ive: So I can’t – I mean I probably can but I was going to say, I can’t if I feel passionately about this subject just kind of click on any campaign that’s relevant to me and just sort of donate …
Andrew Ive: … something or can I?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, you would not be able to easily find it right now. A search feature to search through our entire inventory of drives is something we’ll be adding to the platform again probably within the next quarter.
Andrew Ive: OK. So you started in September and you’ve already delivered 25 tons of food, 100% matched of what food banks wanted and got.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. And another point I would make is that probably around 3 quarters of that are fresh fruits and vegetables, meaning that our platform could be used to raise any kind of food. So if a hunger organization is particularly looking for nonperishable foods, they can specify that to us and those are items that could be raised also. But there is a clear orientation on the part both of the hunger organizations and what they are most looking for, fresh food, and people being interested in donating that kind of food.
Andrew Ive: So before we dive into the kind of how you came up with the idea, what you did before you decided to kind of revolutionized this industry, tell me a little bit about – actually, why don’t we go there?
Patrick O’Neill: Sure.
Andrew Ive: Why don’t we go there? Tell me. Did you literally wake up in the morning one day with, “Oh my goodness! This is something I need to do.” And it was an aha moment or was there some pain point that you experienced?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. I don’t think there was a single eureka moment. I mean the back story is that I grew up in a rural part of New Jersey and my parents and owned and operated a small restaurant business. They had six kids. We all work there growing up. And because it was a rural area, our family restaurant business kind of doubled as occasional informal soup kitchen for the community.
So my parents were fairly often making meals for local people who were struggling for one reason or another, elderly shut-ins, a family dealing with some kind of crisis. And so growing up, I got in a habit of helping my parents make these meals and take them to people. And one of the lessons I drew from that was that if you’re really serious about helping somebody that has food as a need, it’s really important to actually bring them quality food.
My parents’ attitude was not to take the leftovers and if we had leftovers then go help somebody. It was if we’re going to help them, they’re going to eat the same food that we’re going to eat and we’re going to get it to them and hopefully that will help them. And that was the lesson that always kind of stuck with me along the way.
A couple of years ago, really started thinking about hunger as an issue in this country and I think most people are aware at some level that it’s a major social issue.
Andrew Ive: But tell me, it’s not something that occurs to me on a regular basis. So where is this coming from? You say you started thinking about it. What made you?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, I think that in my career I’ve always had some connection to service and causes of particular kinds. The more current trigger probably came through my kids. I got pretty frustrated that – so I mentioned we have four kinds and they’ve all been through middle school at this point. Middle school is where you take your first health class which most people remember as Sex Ed. And I remember that when I was a kid and I remember that’s not something I would talk to my parents about of course. And my kids would not be interested in talking to my wife and I about Sex Ed.
But health class also has nutrition part of it and that’s something that you can talk to your parents about. So, our kids would talk about that at the dinner table. And basically what they learned in health class or the nutrition part was here’s the list of food that we should eat more of and here’s a list of food that we should eat less of or not at all.
And it’s great as a parent to hear your kids sort of conscious about that, at least for a little while. And invariably, within a month or two or three months of that class and that discussion, the school would have its annual food drive. And the kids would bring home a list of the food that they should bring in for the food drive. And it was a pretty close match to the list of food that we should all eat less of or not at all, which as a parent was very frustrating that the kids were getting these conflicting messages. And that’s probably as much as anything else that got me thinking about food drives.
Andrew Ive: So what – sorry. What kind of things were on those lists, those things that you shouldn’t – that they were actually asking for that on the one hand they’re saying don’t eat, on the other, they’re saying please send us?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. So I mean the things that you should eat more of, fruits and vegetables, the things that you should eat less of, things with a lot of sugar in them, things with a lot of sodium in them.
Andrew Ive: So kind of some packaged mac and cheese, fruit and vegetables in a can with lots of syrup and sugar and that sort of thing.
Patrick O’Neill: Exactly. And so those were the kinds of things that were being asked of our kids to bring. And sometimes, there was candy on the list. And we actually as from Amp’s perspective, we have photographs that we’ve taken of food drive boxes, collection boxes within the past 12, 18 months and we’ve got pictures of Twinkies and Twizzlers and Milano cookies and Pop-Tarts and actual quarts of soda sitting in these collection boxes.
And whatever people were thinking, I don’t think anybody puts food like that in a collection box thinking to themselves, “Well, I hope this makes somebody’s diabetes worse or I hope this makes somebody fatter.” Everybody put something in a box with an intention to help.
Andrew Ive: But it’s probably what they’re consuming.
Patrick O’Neill: Well, you’re right. That’s a great point. Or a lot of times, it’s what’s on sale. You go to a supermarket and you have $10 or $20 that you might allocate to spend to help people who are struggling with hunger. And your question simply maybe, “How much food can I buy with my $10? And so, let me buy something that’s on sale, 50% off or 3 for the price of 2.” And a lot of times, the items that are on sale are really the junkies kinds of food. So that’s another contributing factor to that.
Andrew Ive: So you were frustrated. Your kids were getting mixed messages from the school probably unintentional. Actually, I think they were probably doing it because they were picking foods that they believe had more longevity to them. In other words, packaged and canned goods because they see the supply chain of that sort of thing as either slow or broken and therefore you can’t send, can you, fresh stuff because it could take three weeks or whatever timeframe might be to get to whoever needs it. So your default needs to be cans and packets.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. And you’re right. Literally, not possible in a regular food drive to donate fresh produce but I would say is that and I’ve noticed a big change in the last couple of years. So the lists today coming from hunger organizations for instance, when they specify canned goods, they will specifically say, “Low sodium beans or low sodium soup.”
Now, as few as 3 or 3 years ago, it was just canned soup, canned vegetables. It wasn’t trying to be directed to people to think about lower amounts of salt and sugar. So there has been movement in that way. And that would be a nicer list for me as a parent to get today. My kids have sort of past that middle school experience. So you’re right though, there were dealing with limitations that were just real world in terms of what they were expressing for kids to bring in.
Andrew Ive: So when did you start the idea – when did you have the idea initially?
Patrick O’Neill: A couple of years ago, and to the extent that there was as I said before, there wasn’t a really a eureka moment but what I became very interested in was the idea that you’ve got a – thinking of it from a market perspective, you’ve got a highly fragmented market. You’ve got all these groups that are organizing these millions of food drives that all basically work the same way and they all have the same kinds of problems with them.
And I thought that there was an opportunity to really disrupt that market by developing what we have developed, this crowdfeeding platform where we’re looking at it saying, we believe that there is – it’s a multibillion dollar market that people are donating billions of dollars’ worth of food through all these food drives, a very high percentage of it is just the wrong stuff either because it’s garbage or it’s unhealthy canned goods.
And so, we had an opportunity to fix a very clear problem, do it at scale and take this multibillion dollar market which represents a lot of people trying to help and change it in a way so that everybody’s intention to help actually counts. And do it in a way that really combined two things, a sound business model, so you have the ability to sustain it, and at the same time to deliver significant social good.
And that combination of creating a model that as a for-profit business had a path to be sustainable and self-funding at some point combined with its ability to deliver significant social good was the combination of sort of big ideas that really made me decide, “You know what? This is something that I really want to do, something that I really want to pursue.”
Andrew Ive: So what did you do? How did you take that decision and move it to what is now a platform, a website, a system with distributors, and that sort of thing? How does one take that first couple of steps?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, I think that start talking to a lot of people that are connected to that market somehow. I had a lot of practical food drive experience in my life. And fortunately, Martin Scheidl who is Chief Technology Officer is somebody that I’ve known for a while and was one of a couple of different people I started talking from an IT standpoint and did what I think is sort of the usual path. A lot of discussion, starting to figure out who are the right people we need on the team to get this thing going.
And we took an MVP approach to building the platform so we could get it up pretty quickly. Start to get feedback from the market. And I was interacting with the market right away of course. I’m talking to hunger organizations and groups that do food drives and saying, “What do you think about this idea?”
Andrew Ive: And what did they think? Didn’t anyone tell you you’re insane and you shouldn’t bother or it can’t work or wherever I’m pretty much close to?
Patrick O’Neill: Well, I would say the most common answer was, “Wow! I wish I had thought of that.” It just makes – I don’t think that too many people – food drive is the kind of thing that so m any people have this basic idea of what it represents and whether they donated when they were in school or if they have kids and maybe that’s the path that they donated or their church. It’s something that has been done the same way since the wheel was invented.
And so, I didn’t really come across too many people – actually, I can’t say I really came across anybody who got outside the box of that traditional model and started thinking about, well, if you had blank slate and you had a device how this should work today, how would you do it? And that’s really what my approach was.
And in testing out the ideas, really just got a lot of positive feedback and that of course prompted a desire to continue with this thing. And we built the MVP platform, tested it out, got a lot of positive feedback and just kept iterating in little pieces. And so, we did our launch last September.
Andrew Ive: And do you need more of? If somebody wants to in some way be involved whether it’s in putting together a food – and I should ask, how tough is it to put together a campaign if you want to galvanize your own church, your own school, your own community and actually put a campaign together on Amp Your Good?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. So I mean to – in terms of our platform, it’s very simple. We set everything up for a group. So it’s not a self-serve model. We collect some information from whoever is going to be running the drive on behalf of the group. We set up the webpage. We’re in touch with the hunger organization to set up the products that will be available and that’s from a group that wants to use our platform, other than supplying us with some information, we take care of setting everything up. They review it, ultimately approve it and then we’re ready to go live whenever they are.
The work for somebody who – some group that wants to do a drive, their job really is to promote the drive within their community and to get their community to engage with it. And so, I would say that probably two thirds of the groups that use our platform or who have used our platform to date are groups that have some type of history running traditional food drives. And now, they are using our system instead.
The other third are groups that have never run food drives before but in part because we make it so easy to run a food drive. It’s something they consider doing.
And the groups that we see who effectively promote the drive to their community are usually very successful and groups that don’t do a good job at promoting get results that are probably less than what they were shooting for.
Andrew Ive: Now, looking at your website, it has a timeframe. In other words, you need to do this where they raised £400 of produce within a certain period of time.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah.
Andrew Ive: Like that kind of other crowdfunding versus crowdfeeding sites, if people don’t achieve those numbers, does that mean that the donations don’t occur?
Patrick O’Neill: We have no tipping points. So whenever food is raised, we wind up delivering. Unlike crowdfunding campaigns which are designed to hit trigger points to accomplish a certain thing, we’re funding this thing. From our perspective, every time somebody makes a food donation, that’s a good thing. And so, we’ve had groups that have raised only 10% of what they were hoping to. Now, we will deliver that just as if they had raised the whole thing.
Happily, we have many groups that raised a lot more than what they intended and that will balance itself out.
Andrew Ive: And do you give these guys some tools or kind of email templates or whatever it might be so that they can take that individualized link and get it out to their community easily, quickly, efficiently?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, we do. We have a set of basic tools that groups can use. And those are tools that we’ve been adding to along the way as we learn more about the things that will be most effective to help them.
Andrew Ive: OK. So tell me one more time how people can get a hold of you. And one more thing, in terms of setting up a campaign, if I wanted to do that, would that take – it sounds like it’s not something like we go and do using the system myself. I actually need to communicate with you and kind of set it up. Is that a 30-minute thing or is that a 3-hour thing or a 2-day process? I’m just sort of framing it so that people can kind of figure out what they’re biting into when they start.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. And that’s a great question. So once we have the basic information that we need which is typically just a quick description of the drive itself, why we’re doing the drive, who we’re supporting, the start date and the end date, some visuals or logo, maybe a picture of the group. Once we have that information, we typically set things up – when pressed, we can set it up within an hour for a review. And then there might a little bit back and forth.
So I would say that in terms of the time that a group spends interacting with us to get their drive set up, it probably ranges from maybe 30 minutes to an hour. Now, that might be spread over a couple of calls or a day or two depending on how the communication back and forth is going. But it’s pretty simple.
Andrew Ive: I noticed that one of the companies that’s doing a food drive is a real estate company.
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah.
Andrew Ive: So what they’ve done is a) they’re raising or putting together people to contribute food but also, they’ve got their logo there, they’ve got their company name there. So in a funny sort of way, it does a positive spin for them as well. It’s not always just about the food. They can actually do something good and put their own business in a favorable light.
Patrick O’Neill: That’s true. And it’s really true for every group. One of the things that our site provides is just – part of its basic functionality is that and I’ll speak about this real estate company you’re referring to, and that’s a group – they’re our first-time user of our site. They initially set a goal to raise £500 of fresh – they were running a fresh fruit drive for the organization that they’re supporting. They hit their £500 goal within a few days. So they raised their goal with a £750.
Another couple of days after that, they hit that. And now, they’re up to a thousand. And they may raise their goal again.
Our site becomes essentially a permanent record of this good thing that they’ve done. That particular company has already gotten a nice write-up in the local press. Actually, two write-ups I think that’s talking about this new kind of drive that they’re doing. And so, it is favorable exposure for them.
And it’s also – they’ll be able to refer back to their drive page next year and the year after to the extent that it serves their business purposes to let people know, “This is something good that we do.” And that’s a much more effective way for companies to demonstrate social good which I think in these times, companies realized that’s more valuable maybe than it has been in the past compare to let’s a little polaroid snap shot of the collection box with some Pop-Tarts and Twizzlers that they put up on a corkboard someplace. So we offer really a better way for them to display their social good chops.
Andrew Ive: And they can choose who they donate to? Can they bring a new charitable organization or food distribution organization to the table if there’s a local company they want to support?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah, they get to pick whoever they want. It can be some – it can be an organization that’s local to where they are. It can be – they can support organization on the other side of the country.
Andrew Ive: Right, right. OK. So where do people find you again and what do you need more of? What’s going to make this even more effective for people who are needing kind of this produce?
Patrick O’Neill: Yeah. Well – so the great way to find us is at our website. That’s ampyourgood.com, A-M-P-Y-O-U-R-G-O-O-D.com. To reach me, email@example.com and there are about ten ways to spell O’Neill. So mine is O’Neill. Or you can follow us on Twitter. That’s on @ampyourgood.
And what we’re looking to do is we’re looking to connect with organizations, companies, faith-based organizations, schools who have an interest in supporting hunger and are interested in doing it in a way that’s more convenient. Frankly, it’s smarter. We didn’t talk about the environmental friendliness part of it. But it’s this new way of doing a very old traditional thing that produces better results.
Andrew Ive: Perfect. Patrick, we should do this again when a) there’s not a hard stop and also, when you guys have been running for another six months and you’re 25 tons has turned into 2,000 tons or whatever it might be.
Patrick O’Neill: Well, I’d sure love to come back and talk about that.
Andrew Ive: Perfect. OK. Thank you so much. Have a great day.
Patrick O’Neill: OK. Thanks, you too. Bye-bye now.
[End of transcript]
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