Polly Gowers is on a quest of epic proportions. She wants to encourage people to rethink their traditional methods of using the internet, such as using Google as a search engine, and switch to everyclick.com so that every time they click online, they are donating to a worthwhile cause.
She is succeeding in her mission – so far 147,539 people have helped raise over £900,000 for charity. As well as individuals, schools, colleges switching to a more ethical way of using the internet Cadbury Trebor Bassett, MTV, AXA and the Body Shop are among 5943 companies following suit. At the last survey, Everyclick was ranked 8th as a search engine, which is incredibly impressive considering that it has only been in existence for four years. Polly adds: “We’re not expecting the world to quit Google, we’re just saying for those people out there who want to search the web and make a difference every day, we’re the way to do it.”
But why do it? “It’s a complete no-brainer. This is a way to give to charity, for free, every day by doing something you are already doing, namely searching the web.” Polly explains. “The UK gives £9.5bn to charity and only 2% of that is done online. We have created a system called Give as You Live, whereby people can donate to a charity of their choice every time they click on a web page.”
By adopting everyclick.com as the company homepage, businesses can enable their employees to generate cash for their chosen charity every time they use the internet – literally raising charitable donations for free. Polly continues: “Search is a phenomenal industry – arguably one of the best monetisation strategies in the world. And it’s worth an increasing amount of money. It’s the first time a user has been able to consume media in this way. And if you combine that withfundraising you end up with a very powerful tool indeed.” You have to be a particularly visionary and gutsy individual to contemplate a mission of this kind but Polly has this in spades.
Polly’s entrepreneurial flair has always been evident; she was to be an international equestrienne and a horse trainer before working in her own research and marketing company. It was while working there that she had her light bulb moment. Upon discovering that a colleague of hers was a volunteer for Save the Children Polly realised that if she combined research, marketing and charitable giving she could create a business that could really make a difference. And in 2005, Everyclick was born.
Needless to say setting up a company such as hers has not been without its difficulties. Polly has faced the same headache with raising finances that other companies have faced, doubly so because of her company’s ethos. “It was certainly a challenge to stand up in front of roomful of potential investors only to tell them that you plan to give over half of your revenue to charity!” she recalls.
Another interesting frustration was discovering that the sector she had chosen to work in was very fragmented and as a market mover, trying to connect with them all to understand her vision and all flow the same way was unexpectedly challenging. “Charities are in business to do good, not promote other people’s brands, so our job has been to show them that this is a mechanism for fundraising which works.” Polly shares matter-of-factly.
The biggest lesson Polly’s learned as a business woman is to communicate clearly – she made sure that she understand who all of her key stakeholders were and has kept her team, suppliers and shareholders abreast of where her company is and what they are doing next.
Right now, Polly’s focus is to take everyclick all the way and permanently change the landscape concerning how people in the UK use the web in everyday life. Should Polly chose to venture out into another venture, we know that whatever she does, given her appetite for daunting challenges, it will be something epic!
Do you have a thirst for mountain-sized challenges? Do you have a business idea that seems like a daunting prospect? Sit at Polly’s table and let some of her entrepreneurial daring rub off on you!
• Larry Page and Sergey Bryn, the founders of Google are the two business people she admires the most.
• She was named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Women in Ethical Business Awards in 2007, and she won the BlackBerry Women in Technology Award in 2008