The young entrepreneur outlines his ambition to revolutionise fundraising through his charity T-shirt business
Name: Timothy Armoo
Staff numbers: 5
Date launched: 01/01/2013
Tell us what your business does:
Doodlar is modernising the way we fundraise. Every month we partner up with a new charity and create cause-related t-shirt designs. 25% of every single purchase goes to the respective charity while people become walking talking ads for the cause.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I read in the paper that there was a decrease in the amount of funds given to causes, especially by the younger generation and it didn’t make sense. We are not evil, it’s just that the current way of donating is rather stale and no connection is made with a cause. We figured that if we take something as ubiquitous as clothing and weave into it a charitable ethos then we could solve both problems of funding and awareness.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Ashamed to say this but there really was no validation. We just imagined that people were inherently good and are always looking to help others in times of need. We imagined that surely there are people out there like us and indeed our first month has proved that there are people who want to help others if the process of helping is made easier and more impactful.
What were you doing before starting up?
Previously I ran a youth business magazine, EntrepreneurXpress, which was going quite well until the ad revenue dried up in the print publication. We were not really that keen on running an online mag so me and my current co-founder exited about six months ago. Considering I am still in school I was also probably writing an Economics essay.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
No, I still want to be an economist. Having run four companies to date, it seems strange to say that. But it’s because I see a problem and business always seems like the best solution.
How did you raise the money?
We have been self-funded up until now. My co-founder and I are using money made from previous ventures and the odd bit from his student loan to fund the company. It’s risky but we really do believe in our mission to raise more funds for causes and have fun whilst doing it so it’s worth it.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I think with anything dealing with fashion, it’s very hard to judge design but with Doodlar it’s twice as hard! You want to create something that is related to the cause because that’s a crucial part but you also want to create something that’s fashionable; it’s all about the sweet spot. As with any start-up, getting the word out there is fairly difficult but we are currently running a university ambassador programme which should help us get over that.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
As with any ecommerce platform we make a small profit from the products we sell. The main aim is to try and raise funding and as much awareness as possible for causes and that demands quality products and execution so we are okay with making a small profit as this is merely a means to an end.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Well, we’ve had two main ones. The first was getting our first charity on board. That was an amazing feeling because it validated our idea from a different viewpoint. Second would be our first sale because it validated the idea that there were other people out there who looked at the world the same way we do. We even sent her a letter thanking her and since then we send thank you letters with every purchase.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
“Dreams don’t work unless you do”. Building a company takes a lot of work and discipline and if you’re not willing to do that then quit now. Also build something that would last. The best entrepreneurs, e.g. Mycoskie (Toms), Branson (Virgin) are those who build companies that have legacy behind them.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Still running Doodlar and still orchestrating change! Doing more good, saving more lives. We have some pretty cool ideas on how we can make fundraising even more relevant and impactful for the younger generation so watch this space!