This interview kicks off a new series about social enterprise examples that teach you how you can start your own social enterprise and create change in your own unique way. Learning from these social enterprise examples gives us ideas on what to avoid and what to model.
In this particular social enterprise examples interview, you will learn how a couple started their own social enterprise and in doing so helps countless other social enterprises and not-for-profits to support their causes.
Niv and Timna Atar started Dinidae, a friendly platform dedicated to supporting social enterprises and not-for-profits. They upload products, and Dinidae helps them engage with more thoughtful customers. Additionally, Dinidae also gives 50% of their profits back to their sellers through different programs and initiatives. So whenever you buy through Dinidae you are not only getting something special for yourself, but also help sustain these wonderful businesses. Let’s see how it all started:
Q: When did you first start showing interest in creating change in the world?
A: I think it started from my childhood. Even as a kid I was always aware of my surroundings, from people who don’t use the bin, to donating a few coins to charity (whenever I had the chance) or expanding my knowledge about trees and flowers I encountered on my travels. Slowly I became more conscious and eventually it resulted in me working in different not-for-profits and charities.
Q: Why did you decide to start this changemaker journey?
A: I always knew I wanted to take the reins. I was looking for the right opportunity to do that. From my experience I knew how social enterprises and NFP’s need every coin they can use, I have seen it first-hand and I wanted to support them the best way I knew – and also solve a problem for me as a consumer.
Q: How did your experiences so far prepare you for this journey?
A: I have been through many rough patches in my life, I had to fight my way through a lot of places. For instance I am the first and only one from my family (including uncles, cousins, grandparents etc) from both sides of my family to graduate from university. I did this while financing it all myself (including renting an apartment) by keeping a day job. So I know what struggle looks like. I also worked in many places and industries so you gain the knowledge as you move forward. Saying that, running a startup is still not an easy task. It requires support from the outside as well as resilience from the inside, which I’m constantly aware of.
Q: Tell me about your mission, what solutions you offer, and what makes them unique.
A: We created a platform called Dinidae that supports not-for-profits and social enterprises by making it easier for people to find – and buy from – organisations with social impact.
For me it was always a struggle to find places that in their core DNA are doing good, on the other hand lots of these organisations struggle with finding people to buy from them so we decided to build a platform that bridges between the two. We are at the early stages of the platform but can already see positive traction and feedback from both sellers and customers.
Q: What obstacles have you encountered in starting your social enterprise and how have you dealt with them? What did you learn from that?
A: Our main struggle is balancing the demand and supply. Building a marketplace is really not easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of effort and commitment. Reaching out to organisations is always a tricky one and we are building towards better understanding of approaching that. We try different strategies and learn better from each mistake along the way. It’s not about the way you win, it’s about the way you try, fail and learn from it.
Q: What can you tell me about the finances, especially when it all started?
A: As I mentioned, we are at the early stages of our venture so currently we try and stay lean, which means everything is bootstrapped, we finance everything. My advice to other entrepreneurs along the way is not to be tempted to go big on the beginning.
Q: What do you recommend as for others making the right connections to develop their changemaker project?
A: Be out there. There are plenty of events and programs designed to help you along the way. In terms of people, you will meet a lot! Some might stay neutral to your idea and some might turn into fans. You can never know unless you try.
Q: What has been your strategy to gain clients/donors/supporters?
A: As a marketplace we have two types of clients: organisations that sell goods, and customers that purchase them. In regards to organisations and supporters, we try and approach them directly in different events (such as start-up events, fairs, and meetups). We also approach organisations directly at their shops or through email. Another great way is through introductions, if someone you know can refer you to someone you want to talk to then go for it.
Q: What works best for you to drive traffic to your website?
A: We started off by getting the word out there on social media and through friends. Now the best driver is word of mouth through advocates that shopped there before and believe in our service and the organisations we have on board.
Q: What kind of challenges still exist behind the scenes, and how do you try to deal with them?
A: For me it is to maintain work-life balance. How to separate the both. I’m working from my home-office at the moment and sometimes it’s hard for me to let go of work. The way I deal with it is to first acknowledge it and realise that I can prioritise – that some things can wait for tomorrow.
Q: What other big dreams do you want to accomplish when it comes to your changemaker project?
A: The long shot is to go global, and have Dinidae as the main and default place when you want to shop online. Having said that, my more modest and current aspiration is to get onboard an organisation that supports birds (conservation, rehabilitation, education) – birds were always close to my heart and it will be fantastic to support them! Our biggest accomplishment would be to see that the organisations we have on board expand their reach, gain more sales, learn from the community, and increase their impact thanks to Dinidae.
Q: What has been your proudest moment of running your social enterprise?
A: The best moment of our journey is when customers and organisations mention or thank us, in person or social media. We thrive on their appreciation.
Q: What is your #1 tip for someone just starting their own social enterprise?
A: Stay humble, start lean and be patient. You won’t fail if you will understand that it is a very long journey.
Why don’t you head over to Dinidae and check out the organizations they work with and support their cause!
What other social enterprise examples do you know? Which ones do you recommend I shall interview for this series? Leave a comment below!
What social enterprise do you want to start? What concerns are in your path? If you would like to see how I can help your social business thrive, contact me for a free chat so we can find a solution together.