Adam Hackney – founder of Shopnate

Adam grew up and studied in the UK before moving Australia in 2012 in the pursuit of perpetual summer. He ended up in Melbourne (did he not see the grey skies?) but has thrived in this city ever since, embracing the unique culture, environment and people that the city has to offer. Adam has many interests, including philosophy and fitness, but his passion lies in entrepreneurship, and he has transformed several of his ideas into creative enterprises over the past ten years.

Adam’s education and professional background is in the area of digital marketing and he has worked within a range of industries, from organic meat to electronics and insurance. Adam believes that in this technological age, we cannot avoid electronic media, which is why digital marketing is so important and beneficial to both small and large businesses. It is the diversity of work and the fact that he can apply his skills to many areas that keeps him passionate about digital marketing.

With the widespread use of social media, I think that organisations that are honest and stick to their mission and beliefs will thrive. @Shopnate facebook


Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

My idea was to create Shopnate, an online fundraising platform where Australians shop online and simultaneously donate to charities. The idea stemmed from similar models being used in the UK and the US and fact that these had not yet been successfully implemented in Australia. It was the first time an idea really resonated with my digital marketing skills and ignited a strong desire in me to succeed. I am so confident that it will be a success and this further fuels my passion to strive forward with it. Shopnate also allows me to put my skills to the test in order to help charities across the country and aligns with my belief that giving is the essence of life. I guess it’s also a way of thanking the country I now call home!

Please explain your business model

Shopnate works with hundreds of Australian and international retailers and with Australian charities. The retailers include large well-known names such as Expedia, Booktopia and The Iconic and more locally known brands with a loyal patronage. The same applies with respect to the charities, which cover a wide range of areas from medical research, to pet shelters and sustainability projects.

All of the retailers on Shopnate have agreed to pay commissions on purchases made through the website which are paid as donations to the charities that have registered on Shopnate. This means that if a shopper joins the site and books a holiday through Expedia then a percentage of what they have paid would be made as a donation to their nominated charity. This commission is already included in the price of what they are buying, so essentially they can support their favourite charity at no extra cost to them.

With Shopnate you are still shopping at the same stores with the same price. It is just that with Shopnate, a percentage of everything you spend goes to the charity of your choice. This is why Shopnate is described as a free online fundraising platform that provides Australian charities with an additional income stream.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

Right now I am working on promoting Shopnate to charities and educating them about this awesome new way of fundraising. Once the charities see the massive fundraising potential available to them, I’m also helping them to harness this potential by initially helping them to promote the idea to their supporters.

I’m also working through feedback from the shoppers currently using the site and it is always really exciting when people recommend Shopnate to their friends. I always welcome feedback and these pioneer shoppers are keeping us busy to iron out technical issues!

What I’m most excited about in the next three months is watching charities enthusiastically promoting Shopnate to their shoppers and seeing how the shopper base grows through referrals. I know it’s not the next three months, but what I’m most excited about is Shopnate’s two year goal of raising $1 million for Australian charities!

How do you make ideas happen?

I’m always being inspired by ideas that other entrepreneurs and organisations have and spend a lot of time listening to my peers to see what I think could be applied to Shopnate. I have a keen interest in new developments across the digital marketing sectors and I read through as many marketing blogs as possible to learn from both the successes and shortcomings of others and then see how I can apply successful strategies to Shopnate.

When it comes to getting users on board, I test and do more testing. I run around 20 experiments a week at acquiring customers and I’m happy if just one of these is a success and can be applied from that point on.

What does your typical day look like?

I spend the first ten minutes of my morning checking the statistics for the previous day. I then go and train at Crossfit for an hour – I need to start off my day with some physical exercise, it clears my head and puts me in the right frame of mind.

I usually then officially commence my business day by setting three priorities for the day with my partner and we both work towards these goals before doing other work. Everything is focussed on growth and the steps we take today will help to grow our business tomorrow.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

I believe that Australians are not yet truly on the online shopping bandwagon and still harbour a certain degree of caution when it comes to making purchases online, even if they are through reputable websites. I am shocked that some of my friends in Australia have never bought products or services online – back in the UK, roughly 79% of individuals shop online, whereas that figure is closer to 50% in Australia.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

The power of retargeting – it has certainly been the most cost effective form of advertising for Shopnate and other projects I’ve worked on to date.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?

Social Exercise – I love the idea that you can do a workout and give back to charity at the same time. You get to feel good exercising and feel good that you are giving. Win-Win.

What about internationally?

Quidco – They were really able to educate the UK market about the benefits of cashback.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

Where a business innovates and is at the forefront of their industry, they can do wonders for social change; we have already seen the impact of technology based companies in affecting the patterns and behaviours of end users of their technology. More importantly, businesses have the power to harnass the potential of new ideas and creative strategies and put them towards the greater good. By using their knowledge and social standing, leaders in business can help the not for profit sector and even institute charitable initiatives on a grassroots level, for example through sustainable development projects.

With the widespread use of social media, I think that organisations that are honest and stick to their mission and beliefs will thrive. I believe that today’s consumer is a lot more educated as to whether a brand is being truthful and is able to call them up on it. If they like what they hear, they can create a groundswell movement and create all kinds of social change.

 Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?

Why stop at just one coffee? Support any of our 50 registered charities for free at Shopnate! You can check them out at   How’s that for a plug? Jokes aside, all our charities are doing commendable work in their own specialised areas.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

Occam’s Razor



All marketing-focused, and all equally amazing resources.

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

@Shopnate – I may still have British blood, but Shopnate is 100% Australian!

@LortSmith – a charity registered on our site that does some excellent work with animals in need.

@OneGirlOrg – another great Australian charity promoting the education of girls in Africa through some great initiatives.

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

I’m always open to hearing what people think about Shopnate and welcome feedback from anyone that’s viewed the site, joined as a shopper and especially those that have used it. We are also happy to work with interns who would like to build their digital marketing and social media experience in the not for profit area.

We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?

Have any of them ever used dating sites or other unusual online spaces to market their ideas? Hey, that is a legitimate question! Seriously though, I’m always learning from my peers and have a million questions – any advice and feedback that will help Shopnate is much appreciated.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Fonda in Richmond – not only do they have the best quesadillas and tacos, they are also within my newbie entrepreneur’s budget!

Learn from over 100 Australians making ideas happen.

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