MakeHappy.in: Germany based Christian W. Atz merges E-commerce with Social Entrepreneurship!
Chris (27) is a law school graduate from Germany, participating at the iAccelerator program right now to kick-start their web project in India. His startup runs some cash-back portals with the difference that the commission money is not given partially back to the user, but is forwarded to charitable NGOs to support good causes. This product for the US and European markets is called “bioddicted”, from the Greek word “bios”, meaning life, and the English word addicted. Bioddicted helps user to offset their carbon emissions by forwarding commission money to NGOs, who plant trees, build water or solar power plants to reduce their carbon footprints.Coming to the Indian side of things, the project is called ‘makehappy’ and uses affiliate commissions, which are forwarded to multiple NGOs, who care about the major causes in India.
Makehappy.in is a website that features online partner shops, who signed an affiliate contract with them. So when they link customers from their website to the website of their affiliate partner, they receive a certain commission, a fixed amount or a certain percentage of the transaction done by the user. This commission is split and largely forwarded to a single NGO until Rs. 50,000 has been “donated”. Afterwards a different NGO comes in and gets a similar amount and so on and so forth. And how does the NGO get chosen? Users decide that via a Facebook voting.
“Within the near future, however”, says Chris, “we will implement the possibility to login to makehappy and to select the NGO from a portfolio of 10-20, that shall be supported with the individual commission money. We also plan to integrate “social features” into the next version of makehappy, so users can post and tweet their contributions.”
To fund makehappy, Chris is looking for an Indian Business Angel, who likes their vision and idea and whose priority is not a quick and multiple exit, but contributing to the good of the society.
Until now Makehappy.in has tied up with around 30 affiliate partners, including the major travel websites, such as Makemytrip, Yatra and Cleartrip. They also partnered with some India based NGOs, who support different causes. They keep around 30% of the commission money and are also looking for corporate partners, who might use makehappy for some form of CSR or marketing. They themselves do not have any budget for marketing yet, so they need many supporters. Individuals, NGOs and Media Agencies, who spread the news and tell their family, friends, colleagues, donors, members and audience about the services they offer are most welcome.
It’s interesting how Chris went about his journey as an entrepreneur in this space. “When I started to prepare for the final exams – it takes around one year of repetition – my mind uncontrollably came up with many different business ideas, distracting me from my actual studies”, he recollects. “In the beginning I thought about offline products, such as a new concept of an organic restaurant chain, but very soon I found out, that internet services are much easier to implement and fitting much more to my lifestyle.” He read an article about affiliate marketing and thought, that this money should be used to support something good and sustainable!
As a student, sauntering on the dreams of entrepreneurship, he too had his portion of challenges to overcome. He founded the bioddicted UG (haftungsbeschränkt), which is equivalent to an Indian Private Limited company in 2010, while he was still in law school. So he always tended to work for his startup, but had to stay focused on his actual studies too! “It was also difficult for me to write the first annual tax declaration, even when we had hardly any revenue or expenditures. I also wasted a lot of time writing redundant business plans instead of working on the realization of the project”, Chris tells us.Chris launched Carrotshop.org (a website similar to makehappy) in June 2010 as a side project. It is a not-for-profit website and has generated around $4000 so far – to support NGOs, protecting the environment in Germany. Bioddicted is set to be launched in spring. It will be headquartered in The Black Forest, Germany. However, they usually have team meetings in Linz, Austria. The team for bioddicted consists of six people. Christian Leeb (CVO) from Austria, he is also investing in it, Jav Mayans (Designer) from Spain, Jochen Dieckfoss (Developer) and Sebastian Hallmann (Marketing) from Germany.
Akiko Takahashi (Developer) from Japan and Chris are members of both bioddicted and makehappy. Rukmani Mohindra fromLudhiana is makehappy's first team member from India. She is to take care of the business in India. “Hiring people will be an option, when we see that there is a demand for our service; until then we will be looking for freelancers”, says the German. According to their research there are no other similar services in the Indian market.
And how did he benefit from the iAccelerator program at IIM-A, I asked him. “Wie war das dann?” To which he replied in his heavy Deutsch accent “Oh wirklich schön! iAccelerator was very valuable in two ways. Firstly, it was a great personal experience. I met many cool and interesting people, especially from the other teams and made new friends. I could use the IIM-A campus as a base-camp to explore different Indian cities such as Delhi or Bangalore and come back to familiar surroundings. Secondly, iAccelerator provided great support to us so that we could setup our project in India. Tanvi and Pranay, who are in charge of iAccelerator, and the entire team were welcoming and helpful. They introduced us to many important business contacts and gave precious advice on how to startup in India and in general!"
- Abhilasha Dafria