We talk to Daniel Winterstein on how Good-Loop is Converting 50% of media spend into charitable donations with every user engagement.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Daniel Winterstein: My father caught Covid-19 and badly affected, but fortunately, he was OK. My family and I have been lucky – neither the disease nor the economic problems have hurt us. I feel for the many people who have lost family members or had their lives damaged by this pandemic.
I hope you and yours are well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Good-Loop.
Daniel Winterstein: I started as an academician but went into business — initially as a mathematician-for-hire — because I wanted to apply my skills.
In 2016, I worked in the advertising industry, making white-labeled Adtech — and getting disillusioned with the bad practices that go on. The shoddy way that Adtech often treats people. I was going to leave the sector…but then I thought: What if we did this differently? What if we put people first? Because I’m a techie and a businessperson, that question became: How do we build an advertising business which puts people first?
Meanwhile, my co-founder Amy Williams went on a similar journey, from the commercial side of advertising. We connected online — through the entrepreneur’s equivalent of online dating — and we started Good-Loop in 2016.
Good-Loop takes money from advertisers and gives it to charities. But we’re not a charity: We’re a business, and our clients use us because we deliver results.
Brands are trying to build relationships with customers. You don’t build a relationship by barging in and shouting – yet that is how a lot of ad slots act. So perhaps unsurprisingly: ads that do something positive with people — they work better for engaging people.
How does Good-Loop innovate?
Daniel Winterstein: Good-Loop is an advertising company based on the knowledge that most people don’t like advertising.
Our innovation is to turn advertising into a force for good: You don’t have to watch our ads, but: pick a charity, watch the ad, and the advertiser donates to your charity.
This changes the advert from a nuisance into a shared positive moment — which is better for everyone: the advertiser, the viewer, and the world.
As to how we innovate — We started with knowing the problem and having a general vision for a better way — then we get pragmatic: What can we do in the next month, or next year, to change things? I call this pragmatic idealism.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Daniel Winterstein: Initially, we were hit: a lot of the campaigns we were involved in were canceled because they didn’t fit with the lockdown.
However, we’re seeing a positive effect now: more companies are thinking about purpose — because consumers increasingly demand it. That’s led to more inbound sales.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Daniel Winterstein: When lockdown came in, all the business plans went out of date. Our revenue vanished for a couple of months. To help manage that, we reduced costs — we talked to all the staff and agreed to a 4 day week with a 20% reduction in pay. We are fortunate — our sales bounced back.
If there’s a lesson I can pass on, it is to include everyone in company management — then if there are tough decisions, there is also the trust and understanding to face them without destroying the team.
We do that by having a staff-elected board member, and the company leaders do bi-annual state-of-the-company workshops, including everyone.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Good-Loop in the future?
Daniel Winterstein: Personally, I find the constant multi-tasking of modern office work to be very stressful — and start-ups are particularly known for that. I manage it using priority lists and by setting boundaries: protecting time off with my family.
Across the company, we do various things to look after our colleagues. We have a wellness budget — a monthly allowance which people can use as best suits them (massages, therapy, gym classes, relaxation apps).
There’s also an emergency fund, which employees can call on in times of need. Most of all, we want to reduce stress and anxiety in the first place.
I think day-to-day stress can be very corrosive. So our team meetings and work-flows are designed to be efficient without stressing people and to give space for some fun. That’s something we’re always improving, based on staff input.
We push transparency as part of the company’s culture, and one of the benefits is to reduce anxiety — which is amplified by uncertainty. Being open with people builds the trust and confidence that lets them handle rough times better.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Daniel Winterstein: We take money from Facebook and YouTube. How can we compete against such giants? We plan to stay in the game by delivering better, in every sense. Integrity and doing good are the secret weapons of our business.
Your final thoughts?
Daniel Winterstein: Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation (from Alasdair Gray, who got it from Dennis Lee).
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