Georg Woschnagg and Claudia Winkler are Co-Founders of goood, a mobile phone service provider where 10% of your monthly fees are donated to a social cause or charity of your choice. They are off and running in Germany and in Austria and have partnerships with organizations such as Caritas, World Wildlife Fund, and the German Red Cross.
Proud, homegrown, and longtime members of Impact Hub Vienna as well as graduates of the Investment Ready Program, goood is all about combining social impact and profit. Georg and Claudia sat down to talk about how it all started, the resistance they faced along the way, and how we can and should shape our future.
What made you start goood?
Claudia: Around two years ago, I was in a successful career as a telecommunications executive but started to think to myself what’s the purpose of it all? There has to be more to life than making shareholders rich and earning a lot of money. So I took a break from my career, started studying social innovation, helped set up a NGO focused on integration called Fremde werden Freunde, and then six months later I got a call from our Co-Founder Matthias Frenzl about helping to set up goood. It was such a perfect alignment of my skillset and my passion for social causes that I immediately said yes.
Georg: It’s funny, I’ve known Claudia for 12 years because we worked for the same company but only briefly did we actually work together. And around the same time as she decided to take a break from her career, I also did the same to stay at home and take care of my kids. I was thinking about them and how one day they would ask me what I did and why which drove me to work in the non-profit sector. And then one day we met up for coffee just as old colleagues and the rest is history. Neither of us had a clue about each other’s interest in social issues. It’s almost cosmic how it all worked out.
goood is a transparent social business. What is that and why is that important to you?
Georg: We made it our mission from the beginning that from the very first moment a customer engages with goood, we want them to know exactly what’s happening with their hard-earned money. Therefore, there’s no hidden activation fees or gotcha fees to maximize our revenue. We know how to do these things given our experience in the industry but that’s not what we’re about. We wanted first and foremost to create a clean and transparent product and we’ve done that. Second, we want customers to be able to see that 100% of their monthly donation is going to the social cause of their choice. We have nothing to hide so why hide anything?
Claudia: We want people to know how our business model works. We want everyone to see where the money comes from and where it’s going. It’s not our intention to get rich with this and we want people to see that. What we want is to create social impact. That’s why we’re here. That’s what’s motivating us. That’s what’s driving us. We’re transparent because that’s how things should be and it shows everyone that what we’re doing works and not just to other startups but to the big corporations as well.
What is it about social entrepreneurship that motivates you?
Claudia: Purpose. We are motivated by the idea that you can shape your future. We might just be making a small step in the right direction but with enough small steps, the sky’s the limit as they say.
Georg: It’s such a worthy challenge to try and combine the profit world and the non-profit world. In our experience, it’s easier to be one or the other. To combine the two is very difficult so we took the hard road. But, we’re extremely proud about what we’ve built because it is truly a marriage of both worlds and it’s socially and economically sustainable. Companies are more often than not faceless legal entities. We want to create a company with a face that contributes to society.
How are you able to give 10% of a customer’s monthly fee to a social cause?
Georg: We run a very lean operation and are extremely diligent about managing our margins. In order to make our business model work, we have to sacrifice some marketing spend and we have to sacrifice some profit. But like we said before, we’re not doing this to get rich, we’re doing this to create impact and to provide people with an opportunity to contribute to their community through a service they already use. Our goal is to generate 24 million euros in donations within the next five years.
Claudia: 10% might sound like a small figure but it can really have an impact. For example, one goood customer can feed a person in Africa in need with their monthly fee.
Why is goood important for today’s world? Why now?
Claudia: The world is changing. People are looking for ways to change the world and we offer people that possibility. Conscious consumerism is on the rise.
Georg: It’s also important for non-profit organizations. They are taking on a lot of challenges and they are also struggling to get the financing they need. The majority of donations are made by people over the age of 70. Younger people often have not enough time or not enough money so we’re trying to make it as simple and as easy as possible for anyone to contribute.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome? Has there been any resistance to your company?
Claudia: To our mutual surprise, there was some resistance from the non-profit side. They had some skepticism about our intentions given our past experience in the telecommunications industry so we brought on board people from the non-profit sector and as a result, we completely revamped our business model, built the bridge to the non-profit sector, and that’s what made it all work.
Georg: Financing, of course. You’re always walking a fine line. Every startup has this problem and the whole endeavor, because you’re trying to do something different, because you’re breaking all the rules, this creates a high pressure environment which can be challenging for everyone.
What impact would you like to see goood have?
Claudia: In addition to the social impact we’d like to have, our dream is that when we become profitable, 25% of our profits will be reinvested in other social businesses. And in order to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, 25% of shares of the company are in an association that we hope will one day be a social incubator that will help people get their ideas off the ground.
Georg: Some people bring up the idea of competition and ask us what if everyone decides to copy our business model and give back? We just laugh and say that on that day, we’ll know we’ve won. So bring on the competition because nothing would make us happier.
How can someone sign up for goood? Are there any costs?
Claudia: It’s super easy and it’ll just take three minutes of your time. Go to our German website if you’re in Germany, our Austrian website if you’re in Austria, pick a package, and pick a project. There are no activation fees, no obligations, and you can keep your old number. From the very first day you sign up, you’ll be contributing to your social cause.
How can members of Impact Hub help?
Georg: Sign up! There’s a special offer code for Impact Hub Members which is: “impacthub”. The first 100 subscribers using this code will get a hardware voucher of 25 euros! Contribute ideas or talk to us about partnerships on how we can spread the word about goood. Tell your friends, your family, anyone with a mobile phone about us! If you want to talk to us, just get in touch!