Online charity shop launched by former DCU student hopes to expand internationally

Aoibhín Meghen

Former DCU student, Rónán Ó Dálaigh developed the idea for the company Thriftify when he found a book he needed for college in a charity shop for €1.

Thriftify is a website where charity shops can post their stock and consumers can shop it with ease. 

It was founded in 2018 by Ó Dálaigh along with CTO Rahil Nazir, COO Timur Negru and Partner Success Manager Emily Beere.

Thriftify work with 90 per cent of charity shops in Ireland. This includes local independent charities as well as larger national charities like St Vincent De Paul and Oxfam. 

Now as the company continues to grow they want to expand beyond Ireland with a €500,000 investment.

The items listed on Thriftify cover women’s and men’s clothing, shoes, books, CDs, DVDs, and pretty much anything you would find at your local charity shop.

Ó Dáliagh who is a former DCU business and Irish student said that with Thriftify they hope to encourage “positive purchasing”.  When they shop on Thrifty consumers can buy items and have a positive impact on both the environment and society according to Ó Dálaigh.

This is not Ó Dálaigh’s first venture working with charities, he previously set up an events management company that targets charities called Impact Events.

This events company was inspired by his work with DCU Raising and Giving (RAG) Society, which Ó Dálaigh helped to set up while attending DCU.

For Ó Dálaigh setting up Impact Events was the perfect stepping stone from the events he had organised for RAG and it was relatively cheap to do. 

In comparison, he found the biggest challenge when setting up Thriftify was the funding. Ó Dálaigh doesn’t come from a technology background, so for him, financing the project was difficult without previous connections within the tech business. 

Although Thriftify now works with almost all charity shops in Ireland, Ó Dálaigh said that some were apprehensive at first and “they really wanted to have a good idea of what [Thriftify’s] plan was.”

For the team at Thriftify Covid-19 actually had a lot of benefits and it “sped up the transition to online selling” said Ó Dálaigh.

“All of our partners since recognised that selling online is an absolutely fantastic and, today, necessary thing to do” said Ó Dálaigh. 

With retail shops remaining closed until December 1st under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, a platform like Thriftify can serve as an asset to charity shops.

The prices are slightly higher on the website than when you shop in person and consumers have to pay for shipping. This does make the charity shopping experience, one which many low income families rely on for cheaper clothing options, more expensive.

However, according to Ó Dálaigh a lot of the time charity shops are overwhelmed with the amount of donations they receive and often items are undervalued.

Charity shops in Ireland receive over 150 million donations each year and often they have to sell items to be recycled as the volume of donations can’t be sold on the shop floor.

“When we look at what’s actually in charity shops the volume is absolutely enormous” said Ó Dálaigh. He also said that when someone donates to a charity shop they want the shop to earn the value of the donation. 

Thriftify hopes to “strike that balance between providing a lot more things, making more things visible” and helping the charity shop earn more money.

Originally Thriftify did receive €50,000 from Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Start-up Fund but the latest investment of €500,000 has given the company the boost it needs to expand.

According to Ó Dálaigh this money will go towards expanding the business into the UK where the charity shop market is about 30 times bigger than in Ireland.

“Fundamentally we are really going to revamp and improve” said Ó Dálaigh. They will be hiring more staff, improving the website and increasing stock.

Aoibhín Meghan

Image credit: Prudence Earl Unsplash