Mike Overthrow, a digital marketing manager working in Gloucestershire, pitched the idea for Africashback to 50/50 on 7th Sept and just 7 days later on the 14th the project went live on 50/50! Pretty impressive considering he works full time and has two toddlers.
So what is Africashback?
If you're buying something from Amazon, visit africashback.com first, click on one of the many Amazon links, buy your item from Amazon at the same price as going direct BUT Amazon pay us a referrer commission of 5-10% - we give this to UNICEF! Effectively generating a free donation that costs you nothing.
Please tell us a bit about yourself - what do you do, where are you from?
By day I work for Ecclesiastical, a Gloucester based insurance company, as a digital marketing specialist managing search, social and email strategies and campaigns. I'm a marketer primarily rather than a web designer but keep my hand in by designing and marketing a few sites when I can - but as a dad of two under 4's my time is limited!
How did you hear about the 5050 challenge?
Ecclesiastical worked with Good for Nothing on an event for Gloucestershire charities called Ecclesiastical does Good for Nothing in early September. It was an amazing and inspiring event and I saw a few tweets about the challenge while I was there. I took a look, liked what I saw and tried to think of an idea to help contribute.
Tell us a bit about your involvement with Good for Nothing
The 'Ecclesiastical does Good for Nothing' event was the first time I'd worked with the Good for Nothing team. A great bunch who have been really supportive of the Africashback.com concept.
How did you come up with the 'Africashback' idea: who or what was your inspiration?
I had a think about different digital business models which were out there which could potentially be tweaked with a charity angle. The affiliate model of running a site with ads, referring visitors to retailers who being paid commissions on sales seemed a good one. And a few quick Google searches made me think that even if there were people out there doing it there was probably space for something else!
I wanted to keep it simple and already had an Amazon Associates account I'd set-up but not used so decided to focus just on Amazon. When I originally emailed 5050 with the idea I had it down to a couple of sentences, so I've tried to keep the focus on this relatively simple idea throughout.
Rather than having a lengthy content plan and site map upfront I just started building it from a base design I already had and it soon began to evolve! For example, I added in the mock Amazon style product reviews as a bit of fun to try and help the site a bit more share-able.
We've been amazed by the speed at which you've put the site together considering you have a day job - how did you manage to do it?
I think I sent the idea over to 5050 last Wednesday, started building the site Friday night and it went live today (Wednesday 14th) so it has been a bit manic!
I had some graphic design support from Adam Molloy, a colleague at Ecclesiastical who picked up the logo. He was great to bounce ideas off too. For example, the site name was nailed in about 4 minutes! We exchanged a few tweets and when I suggested africashback.com he said it sounded alright so within the hour we had the domain bought, hosting sorted and Wordpress installed!
With a 12 week old baby and a 'why' loving 3-year-old daughter I've had to cram the design and content in to the late evening/early morning and dealt with admin stuff during lunch breaks. The site and content has probably taken about 25 hours of my time so far and Adam's worked on it most evenings too. Luckily the Rugby World Cup has been on in the early hours so I've got to see more matches than I'd anticipated!
What's your message to potential buyers on Africashback?
Add the site to your favorites! Visit us before you buy anything on Amazon, click a link to Amazon - it'll take 10 seconds and UNICEF get 5-10% of your total basket price. There is no catch. Honest. It's a no-brainer.
How are you planning to spread the word about Africashback?
Word of mouth is going to be vital. So please, if you're reading this, tweet a link, post a link to Facebook, have a conversation directly with a human being about it! And if anyone knows Stephen Fry...
What do your colleagues at Ecclesiastical make of your project?
They've been really supportive! As I say, Adam's been a life-saver but the marketing team as a whole have been great. A few people have told me they've bought via the site already and others intend to do so. I'm lucky in that Ecclesiastical are pretty good employers and as we're owned by a charity and supply charity insurance they understand the importance of supporting them through campaigns like this.
What other initiatives would you like to see on 5050?
I've heard rumours of something linked to superheroes which sounds great! But there are so many good ideas already up and running I'd urge people to look at - and support - each and every one.
What's the key to success for this project?
Awareness and people remembering to use it. I've already seen tweets and had emails from people saying they forgot to use it but will do next time!
Add it to your favorites bar and help us spread the word!
And finally, what would you like to say to everyone out there reading this post right now?
Thanks for reading and supporting the challenge but have a think about how you can get involved too. Building the site has been hugely rewarding so far and I'm sure everyone reading this will have something they can contribute to helping meet the massive £1m target. But start by going to africashback.com obviously!