Elevator Pitch: Shopnate

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with founder Adam Hackney from Shopnate.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

Imagine being able to make a donation to your favourite charity every time you shop online and at no extra cost to you. Well, that's exactly how Shopnate works.

Shopnate collaborates with hundreds of well-known Australian and international retailers, and with Australian charities. All the retailers have agreed to donate a commission on every sale made through Shopnate to the charity of the shopper's choice. This commission is already included in the purchase price so shoppers don't have to incur an extra cost to support their charity.

Shopnate benefits charities as it provides them with an additional income stream without asking their supporters to dip further in to their own pockets and it's free for charities and shoppers to join!

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We have been very fortunate in that shoppers and charities have been quick to get on board and are excited to participate in it. Once shoppers have made their first donation and see how easy the concept is, they refer their friends who get involved.

As with many startups, we work on a very tight budget but it helps us to focus on what is really working to grow the business.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

I believe that not all Australians are truly on the online shopping bandwagon yet and still harbour a certain degree of caution when it comes to making purchases online, even if they are through reputable websites. I am shocked that some of my friends in Australia have never bought products or services online — back in the UK, roughly 79% of individuals shop online whereas that figure is closer to 50% in Australia.

How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?

Virtually all other methods of fundraising whether online or not require supporters of charities to shell out donations themselves. What makes Shopnate unique is that supporters can proceed with their usual online shopping at the same retailers just by visiting the Shopnate website first. By accessing their favourite online shops through Shopnate, they can make a donation at no extra cost to themselves yet still have that great feeling of giving back.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

I marvel at Google Analytics and just couldn't live without it. It really helps define which marketing strategies are working and which aren't. It is the first application I check in the morning and the last thing I check at night!

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

To just focus on one problem at a time. When you just start out, there are so many things that need fixing and improving but you really need to be focused on what's the most important and have a structured approach in tackling all the other things. Prioritising has been the key for me.

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