Ad-spend on you given to charities, not media – DYD

Advertising. We spend our whole lives being subjected to unsolicited marketing messages. “Do this. Do that. Eat here. Drink there.” There is no option to opt-out. It’s a contract we have all signed at birth, and there is no escape clause.

Millionaires and billionaires spent half a trillion on advertising this year, while the poor were left hungry, desolate, and penniless. Could advertising cure their hunger? The team at Donate your Desktop (DYD) thinks so.

Nelson Rayner and business partners David and Stephen have made an attempt at bridging that gap with DYD, an app that rents the empty space that is your desktop background out to advertisers, and donates a large portion of that money to charity.

“I came up with the idea whilst working as a Digital Creative at an advertising agency in New Zealand,” said Nelson, “One of our non-profit clients came to us asking us for an innovative idea to generate funds for their causes. Donate Your Desktop came about when looking at figures illustrating the disparity between haves and have-nots.”

Worldwide, advertisers spent $530 billion in 2013, which is nine times the amount needed to end world poverty according to a leading study.

“This insight made me think: How can we help our client take a cut of this figure? Instead of the media companies putting the money into their pockets, what if a charity could do the same?

“Rather than giving our client another campaign, we gave them a business plan which would help hem to passively generate funds further into the future. Furthermore, the desktop advertising space was an unexplored media channel which had huge potential if executed well.”

The client declined the business plan, but that idea quickly became the foundation of DYD.

“Not wanting to ‘bottom-draw’ the idea, I saw opportunity to turn the idea into a business and began to expand on the idea and business plan after hours and on weekends.”

Donate Your Desktop has always been bootstrapped. Initially Nelson asked one of his friends, Stephen Hillier, if he’d like to be involved in starting the business with him. They’re now business partners, along with Stephen’s brother, David.

“We spent months writing a thorough business plan and researching the digital advertising / media industries, eventually coming to the realisation that we needed a development partner and some more hands on deck. Soon after this realisation, another friend with a development background, Bennor McCarthy, joined us and we began to work on the product for launch.”

The service works by offering advertisers one of the most looked at places in the digital-based world we live in: the desktop. Advertisers pay to appear on that space in a beautifully designed background. 75% of the revenue that the advertiser pays goes to a charity of your choosing. The other 25% goes into the business.

Getting advertisers on board has not been difficult for Donate Your Desktop. DYD is offering them two desirable ways to best utilise their marketing budget, in one solution. They receive the privilege of communicating marketing messages to you in a personal location while adding value to their brand by donating a large portion of the tariff to charity.

“Generally advertisers are excited to be a part of the project. However, filling 5 to 7 days a week can be difficult, especially with a growing audience, limited analytics and targeting features. In the next incarnation of the product, which has undergone a re-brand, and re-development, we will be giving the advertisers more control, and feedback on their ad-spend.”

The future is bright for Nelson. Earlier this year, he raised $200,000 in funding from New Zealand investors, and was awarded the Google Young Innovator Award. As for DYD, soon to be rebranded to ‘Little Lot’, the team have several new features, platforms, and partners in the works.

“We will be launching internationally next year with the international branches of our charities and others who have been in touch.”

Do you think the past year has been a good year to be an entrepreneur in New Zealand?

Yes. New Zealand recently topped the best (and easiest) places in the world to start a business (Forbes). That, coupled with government grants for start-up’s, and improved investor confidence means it is a great place to be.

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