An interview with Cherry Checkout, the start-up that promotes voluntary donations

6 Sep 2016 | Interviews

Hello and welcome Jérémy Grandjean, co-founder and CEO of Cherry Checkout. Along with 2 partners, you contributed in creating this company, whose purpose is to promote voluntary donations every time a purchase is made on a website.

To start, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how this project was conceived?

Jérémy Grandjean: I have a French/Swiss dual citizenship and studied engineering in nanotechnology.

As you can tell, Cherry Checkout is in no way connected to my formal education. But, I used to make numerous purchases online. This is most probably where I got this idea from.

The idea first came up in a “start-up weekend” (a start-up competition), in which we had 54 hours to come up with a functional business model. Out of 120 participants, only 54 came up with an idea, and only 20 projects actually went through. While there were several impressive ideas, ours still won the first prize. The panel, made up of major Swiss businessmen, were highly impressed with our idea. Inspired by their praise, we decided to launch our business. That was 4 years ago.

During the first year, we entered and won other competitions in order to build up funds. With the money secure, we were able to set up a prototype and start canvassing for customers.
The actual activity began 2 years after our first competition.

A prototype was developed on, which was our pilot customer.

The customers of the website responded quite positively to our product, and we therefore decided to raise funds in order to expand. We collected €200,000 during this investor round table.

So, can you describe this innovative functionality that you can offer to e-commerce websites?

Jérémy Grandjean: We created a module for e-commerce websites that allows any customer to make a donation of one Euro every time they make an online purchase.

For example, let’s say that there is a customer who wants to buy a ball on an e-commerce website. The module checks the price of the customer’s shopping cart and gives him the option of donating to an association (in this case, for example, for fighting against child labour).

The cherry on the top is that by making this donation, the customer automatically participates in a lucky draw that gives him a one-in-300 chance to have his cart fully reimbursed. We can thus encourage customers to make donations and buy online from the websites that offer our solution.

The website may also choose to host more lucky draws if it can fund them. Our service is highly customisable.

How many customers do you currently have?

Jérémy Grandjean: today, there are 7 websites that offer our module.

Why not more? It’s because I began the canvassing less than 6 months ago, after investing 2 years of development in the system and its IT components. It was only this month that I recruited one person to help me in developing our customer portfolio.

What pushed you into starting your own business?

Jérémy Grandjean: I always wished to start my own business. As an employee, you are forced to restrict yourself to the rhythm of the company. I, on the other hand, wished to express my ideas without being curbed, and bring them to fruition.

Also, I cannot work simply to generate wealth. My satisfaction comes from knowing that I participate in a more global cause, by appealing for donations.

For this, we did not simply create yet another association. No! Our module allows us to support existing associations in raising funds.

What concerns did you have when you started the project?

Jérémy Grandjean: We needed the e-commerce websites to adhere to our process for us to grow. Our main fear was that the e-commerce websites would simply have no interest in our module! This concern vanished later, once we launched the first website and saw the rate of commitment and positive feedbacks from their customers.

Before starting, I was also concerned about the time that I would be pouring into this project, since creating a business from scratch requires personal sacrifices. In fact, I still have a full-time salaried job.

How is your offer communicated and marketed to others?

Jérémy Grandjean: Until now, I was the only one in charge of communication of the Cherry Checkout module, which is why it was limited to a few posts on social networks and our presence in certain trade fairs, just to make ourselves visible.

Soon, we hope to promote ourselves even further by participating in the E-commerce trade fair in Paris, which will be held a few days from now.

Our team now has 2 developers, one person in charge of the marketing-communication development and me.

What is your personal contribution to the business’ daily progress?

Jérémy Grandjean: Well, I would eventually like to dedicate myself full-time to this activity, which is why I have invested so much of myself to develop Cherry Checkout.

I have put in, and will continue to put in a lot of work to this effect, and my reward comes from the gratitude of the associations for which we are able to raise funds.

What about competition?

Jérémy Grandjean: all of our competitors are micro-donation companies. That said, they don’t work on the Internet much, but rather in physical shops. Also, they don’t offer the cherry on the top – their customers don’t get a shot at having their purchases reimbursed.

Play-to-win (promo-gaming) solutions can also be considered to be our indirect competitors, as they also offer a competition. The concept of donation is not necessarily included, however.

What are your goals for 2017?

Jérémy Grandjean: We would like to raise €100,000 in donations in 2017.
We are optimistic of winning over a major customer shortly, which will allow us to meet this goal.

What is your financial model?

Jérémy Grandjean: our pay comes from the participation in our customers’ competitions.

However, until now, we have offered our module to our customers for free, as our main goal is to be present on as many e-commerce websites as possible.

We are also thinking of organising another fundraising session.

Are there any plans of expanding on an international scale?

Jérémy Grandjean: For now, we are targeting only the Swiss and French markets.

Since Switzerland is a tri-lingual country, our module was translated into English and German from its inception. This is something specific to Switzerland.

That said, we aim to shortly begin our conquest of the British and German markets.

Are there any other projects in the works?

Jérémy Grandjean: Of course there are, but it’s still too early to say anything about them. We will be trying to help customers shift from retail to e-commerce. I won’t say any more right now!

Thank you very much, Jérémy Grandjean, for allowing us to interview you.

At TradOnline, we have several online traders as customers, who might be interested in your product. That’s the reason I wanted to speak with you.

Also, do not hesitate to call us for any of your globalisation projects that require translation!


Jérémy Grandjean, CEO de l’entreprise Cherry Checkout

Cherry Checkout