One Unite Partnership presenting a cheque to a community centre in Ferryhill
One Unite Partnership CIC has entered this year's If We Can You Can Challenge. Founders Dom Ryan, David Judge, Michael Gibbons and Carla Redpath explain the inspiration behind the business and why they have entered the competition.
What did you do before setting up your business?
All four co-founders have previously run their own businesses. Dom owned and ran a digital marketing company, David is a charity consultant and Michael & Carla run a cost consultancy company.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Having all worked in the third sector, Dom introduced Michael and David to see if there was a way for all three of them work together. While chatting we discussed recently published research which found that one in four small charities are struggling to survive.
David explained that this can be down to the dependence on applying for grants rather than generating their own income, as well as a lack of time and experience in the sector, leading to overpaying for aspects of the business.
Michael remembered a story about an energy broker who received a £7.6m fine for miss-selling energy to charities and SME’s
The problem is that brokers are often presenting deals based on the amount of commission they receive rather than the best deal for the client. With this in mind we decided to set up One Unite Partnership as a not for profit to show that we can find the best deals for our clients and give up to 80% of our profits back to the organisations we work with.
Since then we have opened our service up to other organisations that do social good, including nurseries, academies and care homes.
What makes this business different?
We bring together the knowledge and experience of the private sector and third sector to create a scheme that changes the social norm.
We believe that too much money is held by big businesses and our scheme distributes funds more fairly amongst the organisations that do social good. We have a strong USP that will differentiate us from competitors and enable us to build a strong brand and business within the sector.
We are the only company in the UK to utilise the energy & telecoms brokerage model to raise funds for the third sector in this way.
We have now developed a new community engagement scheme that uses our model to enable businesses and home owners to use the scheme. They can raise funds for their chosen cause by switching their home or business energy. This scheme is called Give While You Save.
What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?
We were told about the If We Can You Can Challenge and as soon as we saw the website we knew we wanted to enter. It felt instantly like the community that we had been looking for. Local innovative start-ups that we would love to meet and hopefully one day work with.
Where do you see your business in three years’ time?
We want One Unite Partnership to be supporting charities and organisations that do social good throughout the country. We aim to have saved and raised in excess of £1m for the third sector and we cannot wait to see the impact that will have on our communities.
Within three years we aim for Give While You Save to be a standard way for charities & not for profits to fundraising and become a substantial fundraising scheme for the sector.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
We worked with a community centre in Ferryhill where we managed to save them just under £15,000 on their energy bills. As a result of the switch we also raised £5,000 which we gave to them in January 2018.
The impact of their money was huge, they used some of the funds to fix a broken boiler, fix the showers in the women’s changing rooms and set up a football academy.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is changing the perception of how and why people switch their energy and telecoms. We are fighting against major brands and people tend to do what they have always done. We find that once people understand the scheme they come on board but we need to grow our brand to change the way the market thinks about switching energy and telecoms.
In essence we are starting two businesses at once (One Unite Partnership & Give While You Save) which is really ambitious so balancing the work can be very difficult but its hugely rewarding. We are now at the time where we need to grow and know that having staff will create some new challenges but we are looking forward to facing them head on.
Who/what gave you support or advice?
On a personal note, I (Dom) have had a lot of support from my Dad. He has run businesses himself and he has been great at asking questions and making me think about what needs to be done next to grow and scale the business. Even though he has not got an official role in the business, he will be having a huge impact on its future success.
What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?
Our advice would be to have a vision for your business, that doesn’t mean the ins and outs of how the business works. Rather, envisage what you want to achieve, both personally and as a business.
We knew what we wanted to achieve before we know exactly how we were going to do it. We like to say that we have a moral compass which is to keep money in, and put additional funds into the pocket of those that looks after our communities.
We have already adapted our business model by adding more organisations to the list that we work with and creating the Give While You Save Scheme. We feel that these changes will strengthen us further and help us achieve our goals.
We would tell them that its ok to change what you’re doing, but keep in mind why you are doing it.
Deadline for entries is 16th October 2018, to be in with a chance of winning, go to www.ifwecanyoucan.co.uk
Tickets are now online for our ‘Ones to Watch’ live final on 26th October at Teesside University, click here to regsiter.
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