Shaper: Duncan Goose

Show aired on 27th December 2014

Transcript

Elliot Moss
That was Ella Fitzgerald and It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing. Good morning it’s me, Elliot Moss here on Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers. The place where you can hear the very best of the people shaping the world of jazz, soul and blues alongside their equivalents in the world of business. I’ve got a big one today, his name is Duncan Goose and he is the founder of the One brand, a business that gives away one hundred percent of its profits; yes you heard that right, one hundred percent of its profits to charity. You will be hearing lots from Duncan very shortly. Fascinating he is too. In addition to hearing from him, you will be hearing from our programme partners at Mischon De Reya some words of advice for your burgeoning business and on top of all of that if you can take it, a waterfall of music from the shapers of jazz, blues and soul, including Van Morrison, The Elder Statesman and this from Aretha Franklin.

A souly version of Evil Gal Blues from Aretha Franklin here on Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers. Duncan Goose is my Business Shaper today and Duncan is the founder of the One brand and that is as I said a business that gives away a hundred percent of its profits to good causes. Duncan thank you so much for joining me. Explain what the One brand is all about and why you set it up back in I think it was 2004?

Duncan Goose
Yeah well the idea is very simple; there are a lot of global issues that exist in the world; the issue of water scarcity affects over three quarters of a billion people and the idea behind the One brand was to try and connect everyday items, things that you would put in your shopping basket without really thinking too much about the brand choice that you are making and then if you could do that you link that with the humanitarian need. So in our case we sell bottled water under the brand name One here in the UK and we give one hundred percent of the profits that we make to funding water projects in developing countries.

Elliott Moss
And this idea, which is a monster of an idea, just give me a sense of, of turnover and therefore profit over the last however many years it’s been, about ten years? I believe you have gone through the ten million mark, is that right?

Duncan Goose
Yeah that is correct. We have actually this year we celebrated having given away ten million pounds and we were invited to go to Downing Street which was, which was a great experience and in fact we have gone quite a long way over that number now. In fact I was just seeing some numbers today which has added over another million pounds to that pot this year alone so you know, what we are doing is fantastic but the really important thing for us is about how many people’s lives that changes so over the last few years that we have been doing this we’ve now provided water to over 2.8 million people throughout Africa and whilst that’s a drop in the ocean compared to three quarters of a billion people that don’t have access to water, the lives that we impact on a daily basis are truly transformed by simple things like having access to clean water.

Elliot Moss
And where would one find the One brand? I mean I am familiar with it, it’s been in offices in which I have frequented a number of times. Supermarkets?

Duncan Goose
Yeah yeah, supermarkets.

Elliot Moss
Cafes?

Duncan Goose
Cafes. We supply people like Tesco, we supply Starbucks, we supply every single airport in the UK duty free. We supply Waitrose, Ocado so lots of different supermarkets, lots of different cafes and I think the brand is probably one of those things that you are not aware of it until you kind of know what it is and then you see it everywhere all the time and that is really what we are trying to get people to understand that you know, bottled water is bottled water but actually if you make a different brand choice, if you say ‘actually I am going to buy One water because I know that I will change some child’s life in a developing country’ then we hope that more people will become aware of it and the more they talk about it the more they buy it, the more lives we will change together.

Elliot Moss
And it’s a first is that right in terms of the percentage of profit that is being given away by a business of this kind?

Duncan Goose
There are a number of other brands that do it but we are by far and away the biggest donor to water projects throughout the UK by, by some magnitude and I think that that’s really testimony to the team that we work with and the dedication they have to try and get this brand out there and distributed as widely as possible. The bottled water market in the UK is enormous, you know, its billions and billions of litres. It’s dominated mainly by a few companies, the Coca-Cola’s the Nestle, the Danone’s of this world so trying to carve out a small niche in that market should in theory be easy but it’s a commercial environment so you know, a retailer has to make a very conscious decision about actually I really want to have this brand on my shelf because it says something about me as a retailer, it’s sending out a message to our consumers that actually we want to be part of something that is transformational and change people’s lives.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to hear the story of Duncan Goose and the One brand. It is an extremely exceptional and wonderful story indeed though I am sure there will be trials and tribulations in that story as he divulges more in a bit. Time for some music, this is Montreux Sunrise from The Elder Statesman. If you don’t know them they are a Kiwi Trio of twin brothers, Christopher on piano and Daniel on double base with Lord Echo on percussion.

A nice counterpoint to Aretha and Ella Fitzgerald, that was Montreux Sunrise from The Elder Statesman here on Jazz Shapers. Duncan Goose is my Business Shaper today and he, as you have been hearing I hope, is the founder of the One brand, the amazing water business that supplies and pays for water projects all the way round the world. As you were saying Duncan earlier, three quarters of a billion people are without proper running, clear, healthy water. I am going to take you back a little bit. You obviously have done exceptionally well, you are in as you said, one of the biggest supermarkets, you are in the most famous cafes in the UK and in lots of offices as well and there is a business to business side to it. When you were in the commercial world and you were, before, before you moved you had this idea; when you were younger were you thinking ‘I’m gonna do good things with my life’ or were you thinking ‘I quite like….’ I think you were in advertising and marketing ‘I quite like that world and this is good for me’. Was there a gap or was it just you know, happy go lucky kind of Duncan?

Duncan Goose
I think, I think for me I had two grandparents on my mothers and father’s side who were very influential. One was a great supporter of Barnardos and became an ambassador for Funeral Eva and my grandfather on my father’s side was a, he was very, very much involved in the local politics and councils and really kind of fought for people’s rights a lot throughout his life and he worked pretty much up until he died in his sort of mid-nineties and they were amazing people to have as role models. I am not saying my parents aren’t – they are amazing too but I think as a young boy my grandparents were very influential in that belief and you know, service and doing things for people and the way you do it. So…

Elliot Moss
You say that, just to pick you up on that. Obviously your parents were influential too as you said, we’re very happy with your mum and dad – don’t think otherwise but, but the serious point is, because obviously the people with children, I have children, the relationship with their grandparent is very special. Did you just… was it because you spent so much time with them when you were little or was it because they sat you down – I mean how did you imbibe the things that they, that you were seeing around you?

Duncan Goose
I have two young children and someone told me the other day that what children see is what they learn and I think with grandparents because they, they have more time to devote to children, perhaps than your parents do because they are always busy. So I think they just exposed me to their world, you know, they had retired at this point and you know, they had more time to do things that they wanted to do. So I kind of got dragged along with it, not in a bad way, not in a particularly scripted way but it was just part of life and so I think that’s just been part of my DNA growing up anyway. But really when I was growing up as a child I wanted to be a doctor. My dad was a surgeon and later became a GP and as a young boy you know, you look up to your father and go ‘ah that’s what I want to do’. Unfortunately I was too thick to become a doctor.

Elliot Moss
I was in the same club.

Duncan Goose
But, but you know it’s amazing to, to have all these kind of dreams and ambitions as a child and think about what you may become.

Elliot Moss
And then you had to go in the working world and that wasn’t where you were going?

Duncan Goose
No and that was purely by chance there was – I am a massive believer in fate and you know opportunity and circumstance so I, I failed my A levels at school and that ended up meaning that I ended up doing a bit of re-sitting them but in that sort of year gap that I had I ended up going to work for a commercial refrigeration firm in their marketing department and that really opened my eyes up to marketing and what that was and that’s what led me into a career in marketing so had I not been, had I not failed my A levels that probably never would have happened. I was going to go off and do psychology at University or something so that really transformed the direction I suppose of my life so, you know, I think when one door closes another one opens and it is fascinating to see where life will take you.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from my Business Shaper today, Duncan Goose and you will find out all about how fate and failing A levels first time round was actually a good thing because the world would not have the One brand which is doing fantastic things all the way round the world. Latest travel in a couple of minutes and before that some choice words of wisdom from our program partners at Mishcon De Reya for your business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers here on Jazz FM with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning 9.00am I get the chance, indeed the privilege of talking to someone who is shaping the world of business, a Business Shaper. If you have missed any of them in the past three years or so, go in to iTunes, I am sure you will find many of them over there. If you are flying on British Airways very shortly, you can go in the Highlife section on the radio and you can hear some of the best programmes over there as well. Duncan Goose is my Business Shaper today and he is the founder of the One brand. Set up around 2004 and now delivering over ten million pounds a year of, or rather over ten million pounds in the history of the company I should state more correctly of fantastic money towards projects around water sanitation and providing safe and healthy water to drink around the world. Duncan when you were talking earlier about fate and about not doing so well in your first round of A levels, you had your role in marketing, you were doing your things there, you eventually end up in an agency. Black Cat?

Duncan Goose
Yep.

Elliot Moss
Black Cat right and Black Cat gets sold.

Duncan Goose
Yep.

Elliot Moss
To a big company, Jay Walter Thompson, part of the WVV Group, enormous stuff. At some point there obviously things must have been happening because one doesn’t just come up with the idea of the One brand? Or a notion of doing something like that overnight? Does one?

Duncan Goose
No. Well there was kind of an interesting point in my life when I was twenty eight and I had this career in advertising and marketing, I read a book called Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon, about a former journalist that motorbiked around the world in the 1970s and as a motorbiker I absolutely loved the kind of story of that so I sort of jokingly said to everybody I was going to quit my job, sell my house, buy a motorbike and ride round the world which is exactly what I did. It took me two years to do it and it was the most amazing experience and lots of crazy stuff happened; I was shot at, I was rescued by the police on the Afghan border, I was in an earthquake, you know, everything but the biggest thing I think was that I was in hurricane Mitch in October ’98 which was the… at that time it was the second largest hurricane ever recorded in history and killed thirty thousand people, destroyed most of Honduras and I was in the midst of that and it was an incredible experience for lots of very positive and lots of very bad reasons but I think that that experience and trying to help people get back on their feet and you know, doing things like running soup kitchens or giving away all our clothes or you know, we got together a hundred thousand dollars that helped rebuild thirteen communities along the mosquito coast and things like that. That was a really interesting part of my life because it taught me the value of money used in the right way can achieve amazing things. You don’t need a lot of money, you just need a little bit and you need to deploy it in the right way. So when I kind of came back from that trip and I went back into this sort of advertising and marketing world, that kind of still resonated with me and then I happened to be in a bar in London on Grand National day a few years ago, in fact with one of your guests who is coming on in a few weeks’ time, Ian Devonshire and he said to me ‘there is a billion people in the world that don’t have access to clean water, we are all marketers, why don’t we create a water brand and give all the profits away’ and of course all these drunk marketers thought this was a wonderful idea and we should do this, and this and this and I was the kind of, I was the lunatic that said ‘alright well that resonates with me because I’ve seen that, I’ve experienced that, I’ve lived without water you know on my travels, I’ve seen the impact of not having clean water’ so I was the person that quit their job and started this, this crazy kind of thing that we do and the reason it was called One was because I never thought that we would achieve a lot, I thought you know, I’ll try and sell one bottle or one case of water or I’ll try and change one child’s life and if I can change one child’s life maybe I can do a family. But this was always going to be a kind of hobby project for me and then it has just taken off in a way that has become incredible and like you said, you know, here we are and we’ve sat here and given away over ten million pounds and changed over 2.8 million people’s lives, I mean that is phenomenal.

Elliot Moss
Not bad for the… off the back of a drunken conversation in a bar. You should have more of those.

Duncan Goose
Indeed.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me for much more from my Business Shaper, Duncan Goose. Time for some music this is Acorn from The Grip.

That was Acorn from The Grip, I like that one I hope you did too. Duncan Goose is my Business Shaper and Duncan was talking about these good drunken conversations that have led to extraordinary things. The feeling you get from the work that you do now and that sense as you said, 2.8 million children, you have given away over ten million pounds over the course of the business, how does that compare if you could describe it to what you were doing before this?

Duncan Goose
I think there are some parallels to that so I used to in my old job, I used to represent brands like Boddingtons or Avis or you know, years and years ago, Quaker Oats, you know Sugar Puffs and things like that and so you would get a buzz out of walking through a supermarket and seeing the product that you have been working on you know, on a shelf or you know seeing a campaign in an Avis station or something like that so and for me I still get the same buzz. I was just in Starbucks round the corner before I came in here and you know, there’s our water and that’s a consumer picking it up and you really want to grab them and just tell them everything about this brand just in case they don’t know but people do tend to find that’s a bit stalky if I do that sometimes.

Elliot Moss
I am really pleased you didn’t do that just to say because I think maybe we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. But – so that sense of pride you must have, I mean of course you are right, one takes professional pride but this is something different isn’t it? It must be?

Duncan Goose
Yeah so the thing for me is every time I see the brand somewhere or in somebody’s hands I really want to go up and thank them. I really want to say ‘do you know what, that bottle of water that you’ve picked up’ because you could pick up any bottle of water you like but you chose ours and I know the impact that has on the ground. I’ve spent enough time in Africa to see the hideous reality of children not having access to clean water, you know, there are two million kids die every year from drinking contaminated water. This is ludicrous you know, people walk an average of five hours a day to collect water rather than kids go to school. You know that’s ludicrous. So I really kind of you know, every time I am out somewhere and I see a bottle of water you know, I just want to go up and say thank you to somebody for, for making that decision and most of the time they don’t know anything about it which is deeply frustrating because as a marketer you know, I want to go and spend a million pounds on you know, a fantastic radio campaign or you know, TV campaign and I just don’t. I give away a million pounds to funding lives and development.

Elliot Moss
Of course if anyone listening wants to donate the million I am sure you would be very happy.

Duncan Goose
We are always very open to that.

Elliot Moss
On the serious side of this, look you’ve been, you’ve been named Anson Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, I think you have got Brand with a Conscience award from a Paris based think-tank back in ’09, you are the International Hero award from another organisation, the Rotary Club award. I mean you have literally been inundated with praise. It can’t be just because you are doing good things? You are running a good business aren’t you? You are making money. How have you – how big is the team and how have you managed the distribution? How did you get the bottling right? I mean there are so many things inside this business, have you just had great people around you? Has that been the secret?

Duncan Goose
I think you – I think as a business leader, and I use that term in a very lose sense when it comes to me but as somebody at the head of the thing you have to surround yourself with people that are better than you at the things that need to get done so I have a fantastic team of people back in the office, whether they are development people or they are finance people or they are marketers or they are sales people, you know but this is what happens but I think more than that it is the people that we work with, it’s the team at World Duty Free, it’s the team at Starbucks or at a distributor that we have called Peros, it’s the, it’s the little café owners – these are the people that actually make the difference because they are effectively ambassadors for us. You mentioned about listening to this on British Airways; British Airways are another phenomenal partner for us. They fly us in and out of places all over, all over Africa and in fact you can watch a film about us on their inflight entertainment systems. So these are all people that make our team, not a few people in a small office in London but thousands of people across this country who go ‘do you know what, I want to stand up and be part of this’ and that’s what’s made the difference.

Elliot Moss
We will have our final chat with Duncan plus play a track from the master, Van Morrison – that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

The inimitable sound of Van Morrison with Open The Door (To Your Heart), aptly I think also here on Jazz FM’s Jazz Shapers because Duncan Goose has been my Business Shaper today and will be for a few more precious minutes. He is the founder of the One business, the One brand and they have been selling water for really, really clever purposes. You talked about the bigger team, the thousands of advocates and ambassadors that you have created in, as you said, the Starbucks and British Airways and in Tesco and probably everywhere else that you go and you’ve also talked about some of the frustrations, you’ve said ‘I wish everyone knew the story’ and indeed I must admit that I – it took me a while to realise what the story was and you kind of have to look twice and that is, that’s what happens I suppose when you are, you are working hard to deliver a message but you haven’t got as much money as you would want to indeed deliver that. What other problems have you had in this, in this business journey of yours since you set up the One?

Duncan Goose
I think the biggest problems are, are really time and money, is the thing that all business owners struggle with, you never have enough of both or either and for us it is always about trying to make those judgment calls about is the thing you are about to do going to accelerate the growth of the business and thus make more money and thus make more for the foundation or is the amount of money that we are just about to spend better invested in changing somebody’s life in Africa or better spent on a piece of advertising communication in London because it will reach a wider audience. So it is always that kind of trade-off about which way do you go with things.

Elliot Moss
Do you, I mean do you think it has been easier for you to cope with the dark moments – often when I talk to my guests about the dark moments they say well you know it’s horrific but the imperative there is profit for profit sake if you will. Your profit imperative is actually to do good things. Do you think that gives you a sense of ‘well I am doing this for a really good reason and there is a mission and there is a vision beyond my own pocket’. Has that helped you? Or have you not really thought about it like that?

Duncan Goose
It’s a really interesting one. There are definitely dark moments. I mean when the recession bit in 2011 we had a really horrific time of it because all the retailers were consolidating the amount of space that they had and at that time we had just started licensing the brand into new areas so into eggs that was funding chicken farming programs, in to bread that was funding micro-bakeries, in to porridge that was funding infant feeding programs and we had just got all of these things going and we were working with some amazing other companies and then everything bit at the same time and people just retrenched you know, all the big retailers said ‘we just don’t, you know, we can’t give away this space anymore to a charitable brand’, we need to you know, get more money in or the partners that we had couldn’t afford to add another brand into their portfolio and that kind of thing happens very very fast and the impact is not only on us and our team but on people’s lives that you are trying to change in developing countries. So it is really tragic when stuff like that happens because you know that you are on a cusp of doing something quite incredible and to have the rug pulled out because of you know, everything that is going on in the world is very difficult to kind of watch.

Elliot Moss
So actually the stress could be heightened. I mean some people have that problem that it’s my money and it’s my, my whatever but yours is it’s not just me that it is impacting, this is all the great things that we could be doing.

Duncan Goose
I think for me and for the wider team we always know there is people having a much worse time of it than we are and I think that’s what drives people on so we are very fortunate that we get to send people over to Africa and they come back with a very different view of the world. You know if you go on to our website there is loads of amazing films on there of everyday consumers that have you know, worked for different businesses that have been over to Africa with us and watching their stories, it’s quite amazing because they suddenly get it and then they come back and they start being real ambassadors and advocates for us and I always say ‘if we could take everybody on a plane over to Africa the world would change overnight because people would just understand how easy it is to change people’s lives’ and the little amount of effort that is required to do that.

Elliot Moss
Duncan it’s been really good talking to you. Thank you for being my Business Shaper today. Tell me just before I let you go, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Duncan Goose
This is the first song that I ever bought in this kind of genre and it’s a beautiful song, you can just lose yourself in it, the vocals are incredible and it is Roberta Flack’s – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.

Elliot Moss
Duncan Goose thank you very much and here it is.

That was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face from Roberta Flack, the song choice of my Business Shaper, Duncan Goose. An inspirational person, someone who actually got up and said ‘I am going to do this, it’s a fantastic job’ and someone who continues to have a really powerful vision of how the world genuinely can become a better place. Do join me again, same time, same place, that’s here on Jazz FM for another edition of Jazz Shapers, Saturday, 9.00am sharp. In the meantime though stay with us, coming up next, its Nigel Williams.

Duncan Goose

Duncan Goose is the founder of Global Ethics and the One Water brand. He has a background in advertising and marketing and was formerly a board director of a WPP subsidiary which he saw through a buy-out, and subsequent merger into the J Water Thompson Group.

In 2004 he left the business to form a not-for-profit organisation called Global Ethics whose primary remit is to raise funds for humanitarian projects in developing countries by harnessing the power of everyday consumerism – rather than focusing on charitable models. By connecting products with human needs – on a like-for-like basis, he hopes to change the way we view our everyday purchases.

The first initiative was to launch a bottled water brand, called One Water, which donates all its profits to fund sustainable water solutions for communities in Africa. One Water was the official water for both Live8 and Make Poverty History and continues to change the way in which people consider buying water. Global Ethics and The One Brand have ambitious plans for the future with developing other like-for-like initiatives in the area of fmcg, financial services and technology. One Water has also become the water brand of choice for Virgin Atlantic and Starbucks across the UK.

Duncan launched The One Foundation in 2007. The One Foundation is a sustainable charity that creates partnerships between brands, corporate organisations, retailers and recipient charities. The Co-operative was the first organisation to partner with The One Foundation with the launch of the UK’s first own-label ethical water, the Co-Operative’s Fairbourne Springs brand. In May of this year, Samantha Cameron hosted a reception for The One Foundation at No.10 Downing Street, to mark reaching the milestone of £10 million raised for water projects.

Duncan has won numerous prestigious awards including the European Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a Great Briton award, the Chairman’s Award at the Institute of Directors Awards and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate. During his career he has also been on the board of the John Lewis Foundation, Coventry University and Malaria No More.

He says one of his proudest achievements was to put £1m on the ground in East Africa four days after the worst drought for 60 years had been declared. It kept 250,000 alive long enough for governments and aid agencies to intervene.

Listen live at 9am Saturday.

“The issue of water scarcity affects over three quarters of a billion people…”

“We sell bottle water under the brand name One here in the UK and we give one hundred per cent of the profits to funding water projects in developing countries.”

“…when I was growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. My dad was a surgeon and later became a GP and as a young boy…you look up to your father. Unfortunately I was too thick to become a doctor.”

“…the lives that we impact on a daily basis are truly transformed by simple things like having access to clean water.”

“I think when one door closes, another one opens and its fascinating to see where life will take you.”

“…lots of crazy stuff happened; I was shot at, I was rescued by the police on the Afghan border, I was in an earthquake…”

“You don’t need a lot of money, you just need a little bit, and you need to deploy it in the right way.”

“…this was always going to be a kind of hobby project for me, and then it has just taken off in a way that has become incredible…we’ve given away over ten million pounds and changed over 2.8million people’s lives, I mean that is phenomenal.”

“Every time I see the brand somewhere or in somebody’s hands I really want to go up and thank them.”

“If we could take everybody on a plane over to Africa, the world would change overnight because people would just understand how easy it is to change people’s lives.”