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Goodtel is an ethical internet provider that was born with the mission to donate 50% of its profits to good causes. Simply by choosing this social enterprise, your choice could give back enough to help pay for a farming family’s breakfast for 2 weeks or to plant enough trees to store 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. Australia, the wait is over – you can now sign up to an ethical telco & contribute to what you care most about.
We interviewed Damien Gould, founder of Goodtel. After helping kickstart +500 telco businesses, he realised how much the world needed an ethical internet provider. The giving back partners of Goodtel are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. By using Goodtel for your telco services in your home or business, you can choose the charity that aligns with your values. You can switch now to their NBN services with unlimited data; no set up fees or contracts; for both business or individuals and give back with minimal effort. A range of mobile plans is also coming soon. You’ve probably made the switch for your banking, hand soap, toilet paper and now we believe the time is finally here to switch to a better and more ethical internet provider!
Now, without further ado, we let you enjoy this fantastic interview!
Hi Damien, wewould love to hear a bit more about your background and what led you to start the social enterprise Goodtel?
Hi Maxime. I have spent my entire working life in the telecommunications industry which as of July this year will be 25 years. For a large part of that time, I was part of a business that helped individuals and companies to launch their own telco brands. It sounds like a strange concept to most people but, believe it or not, we helped to launch over 500 telcos between 2003 and 2018. Often during those years, I had thought about launching a telco that would work with charities to generate funds, and here’s where I am today! Having three young kids, I am concerned about the type of world that I may be leaving behind for them. This has surely been a driving force for Goodtel’s creation.
What is the mission of the brand, what’s the type of positive change you are seeking to create?
Our mission is to help all of Australia turn the daily use of telco products into a force for good. How do we do this? We piggyback on the major telco networks and provide a range of telco products that individuals and businesses already use every day and then simply share the profits with a range of great causes. Goodtel is our way of taking our years of experience in the telco industry and putting it to good use.
We use the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the framework for the areas we are trying to positively impact and believe that equality, prosperity and the health of people and the planet need to be addressed simultaneously. We have purposely chosen not to focus on a single cause for this reason and provide a mechanism for our customers to choose which cause should benefit from the profits from their telco service.
So what are the services available with Goodtel as an ethical internet provider for individuals and businesses?
We have launched with nbn services for individuals and over the next few months will be launching a range of mobile plans. Our nbn plans connect customers to the same nbn they are already used to and our mobile offering will be on one of the major networks (stay tuned for which one soon). Our main product for businesses is a cloud phone system but we also provide a range of business-grade internet services. The cloud phone system is built with small businesses in mind, perfect for businesses with 2-20 employees.
What are the good reasons for people and other businesses to switch to an ethical internet provider?
I have watched many telcos succeed and fail over the years, therefore we have launched Goodtel with a strong focus on customer experience. We know customers appreciate and continue to search out ethical and socially conscious companies but we know first and foremost our product has to stand up on its own as a great product with great service.
Telco offerings are often full of complexity; we have made ours as simple as possible. All our internet plans come with unlimited data and no set up fees. For individuals, we have no contracts. We even have our 14 Day Goodness Guarantee that gives customers a full refund should they not be happy for any reason.
We have spent time focusing on the switching process as we know historically this has always been an area where telcos have disappointed customers. Switching to Goodtel can be done online or over the phone in under 5 minutes.
For businesses, we have kept the pricing simple. For our cloud phone system, Goodtel provides one plan that includes the handset, monthly rental and unlimited local, national and calls to mobiles all for a single cost per person per month. Businesses also get access to the Goodness Guarantee for a risk-free trial of our service.
Put simply, customers want their telco products to just work and I believe Goodtel delivers on this whilst allowing them to give back at the same time.
Every time we purchase Goodtel you give back 50% of the profits! Can you please explain to us a bit more about your giving back model?
From day one, Goodtel has baked into its business model that it gives 50% of its profits each year to our charity partners. When a customer signs up to Goodtel they simply select which cause they are most passionate about.
Then, Goodtel tracks each customer’s selection and at the end of each year 50% of the profits are split between our charity partners based on the percentage of customers that have selected each charity partner. For example, if 25% of customers have chosen Charity Partner A and 17% have chosen Charity Partner B, then 25% of the profits that go to our partners go to Charity A and 17% go to Charity B and so on.
What charities are you currently working with and how are you working together for good?
Our current charity partners are the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre; Burn Bright; ChildFund Australia; Drought Angels; Greening Australia; HeartKids; National Breast Cancer Foundation; Save A Dog Scheme and Sleepbus.
We are really trying to minimise the use of the charities resources and making the Goodtel initiative one that just works in the background for them. The idea is that we enable a new way for their supporters to provide funds without it costing the user any additional funds.
Over the next 12 months, we do expect to start working a little closer with our charity partners. Potentially we will get involved in helping fund specific projects either at the request of the charity partners or from the Goodtel community of customers.
You’ve just launched, but could you please provide some data on the impact the brand could make if we all switched to an ethical internet provider?
As a rough guide we expect that once we have just 1000 individual customers, each customer would contribute to their good cause between $60-80 every year, just by switching their internet and mobile with Goodtel.
Simply by choosing an ethical telco, each person’s profit would be enough to pay for a daily hot meal and groceries for a week for an Asylum Seeker in Australia or provide a safe night’s sleep for a person experiencing homelessness.
There are 20 million homes in Australia and if just 1% of those made the switch to an ethical telco, that’s between $12m-$16m each year that would be making its way to good causes and helping protect the planet and those in need.
These figures don’t include what a small business can contribute which is significantly higher. A small business with 5 team members that use our cloud phone system along with an internet connection is expected to contribute between $500-$700 every year.
What have been your challenges as a social entrepreneur?
The biggest initial challenge was deciding which cause to focus on. The more we dug into launching a social enterprise the more we could see just how many areas were in need of funding and assistance. We still aren’t helping all the causes we’d like to be but we’ve made a good start and we will be adding more over the next 12 months.
Convincing people why we have chosen to share our profits with charities hasn’t been a big challenge but it has been a conversation I have had more times than I expected to have. Other challenges since starting mostly revolve around the things you would expect to hear from most start-ups; missing out on time with your family (the hardest one for me), needing to wear 50 different hats each day and prioritising the 1001 ideas you have to make sure you are making the biggest difference you can in the time you have.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to other small businesses trying to make a difference?
My advice would be to just start doing something. No matter what it is or how small, if every business decided to make a difference over and above just trying to make a profit we would all be living in a much better world.
Allowing your team to volunteer regularly for charities, holding fundraisers, donating goods or services to those who need it. Ensuring all staff are paid fairly or ensuring your business is sourcing materials or services ethically, are some of the simple acts small businesses can do in most cases without much difficulty.
You are based in Melbourne, Australia, how does a social entrepreneurial venture look like there? Do you feel there’s a change happening in the city?
I am new to Melbourne having spent most of my life in Sydney and London. From my first year here it definitely feels like the right place for Goodtel to have been created and launched. There are many amazing social enterprises based in Melbourne and I am feeling very grateful to have had so many of them share their time and advice with me. It’s not just Melbourne but certainly, since working in the social enterprise space, I can see more and more people looking at how they are making their purchases each day and understanding they have the power to make a difference with their choice.
If each of you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
You may only be one person but it’s your choice to be one person who chooses to make a difference.
Finally, where can we find you and what are the steps we should follow to sign up to Goodtel?
You can find us at www.goodtel.com.au or on Instagram at @goodtelau. You can sign up for our unlimited nbn plans online: just pick a plan, a modem if you need one, select the cause you wish to support and you’re done! For small businesses, you can call us at 1800 11 GOOD or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to chat about your business’s specific telco needs.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Goodtel. Ourgoodbrands only features brands and contents that are aligned with an ethical, sustainable, eco-conscious world, which means we have carefully researched and written the contents in this article, and specific product information is checked with the business. For the interviews, any opinions expressed are the writer’s own, generally being the founder of the brand. Images supplied and approved by the brand featured, or credited accordingly otherwise. For more information about our policies, click here.