Eddy Lee is the founder of oneHug, a website and app that seeks to support charities by creating a community of minded people who want to help others. He was born in Sydney but raised in the NSW Central West town of Forbes, is married to his childhood sweetheart and father of 3 fun-loving boys.
oneHug.com.au @oneHugHQ facebook Crowdfunding Campaign
My idea is really an ethos – do not be afraid to ask questions.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
oneHug was conceived in July 2012 after a very turbulent period in my life. I was 34, married with 2 kids and 1 on the way. Unfortunately I fell very sick, and doctors had to rule out that I did not have a stroke, a tumour on the brain or cancer. I was quickly diagnosed with Bells Palsy (which is the temporary paralysis of the facial nerve).
I was working in the banking industry and always felt this was not the environment I wanted to be in. When I came up with the idea for oneHug, this spurred me to make the change and take the plunge to do some good.
The content you see on our social media pages at present is focused on helping people on an individual basis with the oneHug Random Acts of Kindness Initiative. We have been walking all over Sydney doing nice things for other people – shouting them coffee, yoghurt, food, frozen drinks and much more, hoping they in turn will pay it forward! We have seen some fabulous stories, with our most recent RAOK shared in Linton UK.
We then engaged cafes to explore the opportunity where they encourage their patrons to do a RAOK for others and the response has been very humbling; to date 200 cafes across Sydney have joined our movement!
The bigger picture though is the oneHug Difference. Very early on oneHug engaged charities to do something a little different, and that was that if we were to donate them an amount of money, they will specifically tell us where the money is going. We are very humbled that ChildFund Australia, PinkHope, and Autism Spectrum shared our vision and they were very happy to join our Charity Member Panel. The oneHug Difference is that when we reach our donation target of $10 000, our users vote (via the oneHug app) which charity they want this money to go to. Once determined we will let our users know who we are donating the money to as a community via social media. The charity will then share with us who the recipient is and we will then share their story with the oneHug community and how oneHug has helped them.
Please explain your business model.
oneHug does not generate any revenue from the RAOK initiative; the idea is all about spreading goodwill, positivity and brightening up another persons day, and we will continue to provide cards free of charge to encourage this behaviour.
The oneHug app, which is currently available on both iTunes and Google Play is free to download, but to be a oneHug community member it is $1.99 and you only have to pay this once. This will give you full voting rights when we have reached our donation target. From the gross proceeds of the app we will be donating 10% to the charity pool, however if the app is successful we will increase the % and will make it retrospective.
If a business provides us with a donation to be given to a member of the charity panel, and wants to do this as a community member, we will not be deducting any fee from this and 100% of this donation will go to that charity; the only difference is that our community will determine who receives the donation.
What are you working on right now?
Within the next 3 months we are hoping to secure our first donation target of $10 000, which will trigger the voting mechanism within the oneHug app and our users will then vote where they want this money to be donated to.
In turn we will then share the real outcomes and stories of how this money helped our charities.
How do you make ideas happen?
There is no such thing as a bad idea – have an open mind and work through it. Some may be impractical or a bit too outrageous; just talk about it with those you trust and if they feel passionate about it take the next step (don’t be afraid to leap and fall – getting up is easy).
What does your typical day look like?
Review social media posts for the day and schedule them.
If it is a sunny day, I prepare to hit the pavement to talk to cafes about joining the oneHug Random Act of Kindness initiative.
During the day I speak to app programmers to discuss issues, potential bugs and solutions. Most importantly, I’m on the look out when out and about to help others and do a Random Act of Kindness to brighten up another person’s day!
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Every business needs to have the correct structures in place, coming from a Business Finance background I have seen many people jump the gun and hit the road running, and when successful they have major issues such as tax, possible trademarking with naming, or lack of exit strategies.
My advice is to take a moment to engage taxation and legal professionals to ensure you have the right structure in place and do things correctly. People do not take this step as they think it is too expensive but it may cost you more in the long run. I look it as if you really believe in what you are doing this is just a step you take to ensure your idea is protected.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
My idea is really an ethos – do not be afraid to ask questions. You are not the expert on everything and if you need help, ask for it. If someone says no, ask again and if they say no again, ask someone else, just keep on going.
If someone helps you, appreciate what they are saying to you – you may not agree or like what they are saying, but respect their time (you asked for it). If you stop listening you may miss that little gem.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
I love this site, they aim to spread positivity and goodwill by sharing videos of positive and uplifting stories.
What about internationally?
This is a fun idea. This group supports charities from the proceeds of clothing sales. So the buyer can look and feel great and also know that the purchase helps others.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Unfortunately everyones focus is to turn a profit first. But if you give people another reason to come back not just because of your product and overlook what it costs this will have a positive impact to your business. Donate gross proceeds, spend time and help others within the community. Encourage positive behaviour and people will notice and hopefully follow suit.
Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
As we are a startup so funding is always an issue, but when we donate to our first charity we are looking for a videographer to help us tell the story and capture the moments of how we as a community have helped them.
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?
Profit for a Purpose – Setting up a business a little differently.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Visiting many Cafe’s at the moment in Sydney.
Northern Beaches – Girdlers Grind – Dee Why
North Shore – Bay Coffee Roasters – Neutral Bay
City – Tamper Press Cafe – King Street
Inner West – Mrs P’s
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?
Join Us on a day out visiting cafes and doing random acts of kindness. Visit a donor recipient and see the real oneHug difference and how we have helped that person/cause.