You get a stamp on your loyalty card with the hope you'll get a free coffee when the card is full. But what if you could get something better at the end? What if you could feed a child?
This is the concept behind the loyalty card Stampify, the non-profit idea started by Conor Lehan from Ireland. For every completed card, their partner businesses made up of various cafes and restaurants around Ireland, make a donation to the charity, Mary's Meals.
The school feeding program was set up in some of the world's poorest communities after it was noticed that a lack of food directly linked back to children not attending school, due to the impact it had on their concentration levels. Mary's Meals now has fundraising groups all over the world, with Stampify being the latest addition.
"We [chose Mary's Meals] because we really liked their ethos of not only fighting world hunger but providing meals to children in their schools, which encourages them to get the education needed to give them the best chance to escape poverty. They are among the most efficient charities out there, for every Euro we give them, ninety-three percent goes directly to fight world hunger," explains Lehan.
The idea of Stampify came from an experience Lehan had while in university in Dublin, where he noticed the inequality of how some people could get free food by just filling a loyalty card, while others were left hungry on the streets. This epiphany led him to begin thinking of ways to make a system where loyalty stamps could be used for charity and thus create a sustainable solution to the world's food poverty problem.
Lehan began privately working on Stampify during university and it wasn't until he was able to commit to forming the idea after his studies that he began to tell people about it. His family and friends were supportive, with some of his friends even joining him in working on the idea and making it a success. Now nearly two years old, the charity group currently has 128 business partnered with them and have donated over 100,000 meals. "Initially it was a little difficult to get coffee shops [who were our very first business partners] onboard, as Stampify was just an unproven idea, but we were lucky to meet some coffee shop owners who were charitable and believed that this was a good idea."
The team, which is made up of five members, all currently juggle the duties of Stampify with other commitments. "I currently work in Google, other members work in Deloitte, Lidl, ESB, and Pointy", says Lehan, though he has hopes that Stampify will one day become a full-time role for him. Heading into the new year, Stampify continues to develop ideas to make the company even better, including the launch of an app that will introduce the option to choose which charity your donation goes towards.
Reflecting on their first year as a start-up, Lehan says the biggest lesson he learned is to seek help when it's needed. "In the first year, I spent so much time working on areas such as design and marketing that I don't have an aptitude for. It took up a disproportionate amount of time and I wouldn't enjoy the work. By finding people who are good at these things and bringing them on board to handle these areas, you give yourself the best chance for success."