Scrolling on TikTok, sliding into someone’s DMs or simply giving your mum a call to complain about your day are all seemingly insignificant actions most of us rely on for convenience and comfort every day. But it’s easy to forget that what we do on our phones has an impact in the real world.
Imagine then if you could support a cause you cared about by doing nothing more than paying your internet or phone bill each month… Launched in November 2019, the Melbourne-based telco Goodtel was born with this exact model in mind – splitting profits with charitable organisations and empowering Australians to use their phone habits for good.
Here we chat with co-founder Damien Gould to learn more about the inspiration behind the company and how we can use our phones to make a difference – plus scroll to the bottom to find out how you could receive a free 12-month Peppermint subscription!
Tell us a little bit about the Goodtel journey… What inspired you to start the company?
We were inspired to start Goodtel when we saw awesome social enterprises such as Who Gives A Crap, i=Change, Thank You and others changing the world by using their business as a force for good, rather than being all about making a profit. My co-founder Daniel and I have over 50 years of telco experience between us and we wanted to put these skills to good use. So we created a telco that was about “doing good”. We’ve both got young kids and neither of us are happy with the state of the world so Goodtel is our way of contributing to a better world now and in the future. We launched in late 2019, just before the horrific bushfires and then a few months later COVID hit so it’s been an interesting time to launch a new business with an idea that’s pretty unique but we’ve made it through and have managed to do some good along the way.
How have you made a difference so far?
Goodtel donates 50% of its profits to good causes that help protect the planet and those in need. So thanks to our amazing community, Goodtel is managing to make a difference in many different communities around Australia and the world. To date we have donated $44,000 to our charity partners and this has all come as a result of people simply paying the telco bill each month, just like they normally would. These funds have been used by our charity partners to do such things as: help remove 114 tonnes of carbon dioxide from our planet (via Greening Australia); provide a week’s worth of groceries to 138 families seeking asylum in Australia (via ASRC); provide food and shelter for 253 dogs until they could find a loving home (via Save A Dog); provide 7414 meals to vulnerable Australians (via OzHarvest); provide 10 COVID-19 protection kits and build five handwashing stations for disadvantaged communities in South East Asia (via Child Fund); as well as help fund a lot of other great projects.
We’ve both got young kids and neither of us are happy with the state of the world so Goodtel is our way of contributing to a better world now and in the future.
What place do you think business has in creating a more sustainable future?
I think it’s clear that businesses play a huge part in creating a more sustainable future. When you look at what those in power are managing to achieve versus businesses there is no competition. Businesses continue to innovate and are actually making a difference while those in power often seem to just talk about it. It is becoming more and more apparent that if we as businesses don’t start to provide products and services using sustainable practices then there won’t be much point in having a business in the future. Goodtel recently became a certified B Corp along with approximately 4000 other organisations around the world that use their business as a force for good. Every B Corp chooses to balance profit with purpose. It can absolutely be done and we like to think it is the future of how business will be done. Looking at all the challenges the world currently faces it makes complete sense to us at Goodtel that the more purpose-led businesses that exist, the more challenges we can overcome and the better world we all get to live in.
How do you balance purpose and profit? Is there a way to do it without compromising?
We were lucky in some respects as we created Goodtel with the sole purpose of ‘doing some good’. So balancing profit and purpose is something we’ve baked into our business model. We certainly don’t feel like we’ve had to compromise – it’s almost the opposite in that we actually get to build a business that we all get to feel good about. From a strictly financial sense I guess you could say we are compromising on how much profit the company makes as we donate half of it to good causes but that is why Goodtel was created in the first place so it doesn’t feel like a compromise.
While Goodtel does need to make a profit in order to operate and continue to innovate, our team is much more interested in having a positive impact on the planet and those in need so that helps guide all of our decisions on what to do or not to do. There are so many amazing organisations having a huge positive social impact while at the same time generating significant profits to reinvest and further their cause so I believe it can be done without compromising.
For businesses wondering what they can do, like anything, the key is to just do ‘something’. No matter how small, if every business took some time to figure out how their specific business could help reduce its carbon footprint or make access to its products or services more accessible to disadvantaged groups throughout Australia, I think we can all imagine what sort of a world we’d be creating for our kids and future generations. It can be something as simple as letting your team volunteer at a charity of their choice for a few hours a month or switching your energy provider, bank, coffee company, insurance provider, search engine and, of course, telco to a more ethical and sustainable provider that cares for the planet and is more about giving back than taking from.
For businesses wondering what they can do, like anything, the key is to just do ‘something’.
In our digital world, how can we as individuals use our phones and internet for good?
I thought you’d never ask! Switching your nbn or mobile plan to Goodtel is one of the simplest ways to use your phones and internet for good. Signing up takes less than 10 minutes and then you’re doing good every time you pay your telco bill, at no extra cost to you. For those that already have nbn, your nbn switches to Goodtel within 48 hours of your order. There is almost no downtime. I say ‘almost’ no downtime as it’s just the few minutes it takes to update your username and password in your modem once the service is with Goodtel.
Switching your mobile is even easier. Once you sign up, you’ll receive a new SIM in the mail within five working days. Again there is close to zero downtime. Simply activate the SIM online when you receive it. When your old SIM stops working, you put the new Goodtel SIM in your phone and away you go. You can keep your old number so the only thing that changes is you get to feel good about your choice of telco.
There are over eight million homes and businesses connected to the nbn in Australia and more than 32 million mobile services (yes there are more mobile services than there are people). If half a percent of Australia switched to a more sustainable, ethical telco that gave back, together we would be able to have a huge impact on helping to protect the planet and those in need.
Goodtel is certified carbon neutral so just by having your mobile or nbn plan with us, you can help reduce your own carbon footprint. We’ve also partnered with OzMobiles, one of Australia’s largest mobile phone refurbishers. People can play a vital role in reducing e-waste by purchasing pre-loved, refurbished handsets. More carbon dioxide emissions are generated by the manufacturing of phones than most consumers create after buying them so buying refurbished handsets is the way to go.
What about businesses? Is there a way for them to help make a difference too?
Businesses can definitely make a difference and due to businesses spending more on their telco each month they have the power to do even more good than us as individuals. As with individuals, Goodtel provides a really simple way for businesses to have a positive social impact, just by choosing to have their telco services with Goodtel. We provide a complete range of business telco services including cloud phone systems, nbn or business internet services and mobile services.
Like individuals, businesses can choose from one of our 11 charity partners to have their share of profits donated to. Goodtel understands that businesses need their telco services to work more than ever these days. We use the networks of the big telcos everyone is already familiar with to ensure the service is reliable but with a level of customer service that often only comes from the smaller players where you’re not just a number. Every business or individual that switches to Goodtel truly makes a difference and as a result of this we are extremely grateful for every person or business that has made the switch.
Knowing that we could have just started another boring telco, but instead chose to start one that supports people… makes us proud every day.
What have been some of your proudest moments in the company?
In no particular order… Winning Finder’s Green Broadband Provider of the Year this year, up against Australia’s biggest telcos was definitely a proud moment. Becoming carbon neutral-certified with Climate Active as well as becoming a B Corp recently were also proud moments as they each took an enormous amount of time and effort but those certifications are extremely important for us to ensure we are ’walking the walk’ in everything we do.
Goodtel’s first ever donation was for $5000 and went to one of our charity partners, sleepbus, who convert old buses into 24 beds for people experiencing homelessness to get a good, safe night’s sleep. Our donation went towards funding the painting of their ‘Pink Bus’ which is specifically for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. To have been able to help with the funding for something like that where we know women and children in desperate need of help are getting directly impacted in a positive way is exactly the reason Goodtel was created.
Knowing that we could have just started another boring telco, but instead chose to start one that supports people who have been through unimaginable hardship while seeking asylum (and continue to be), helps fund environmental work to reduce climate change, helps fund education for children living in disadvantaged communities plus so much more makes us proud every day.