THE PARCELPORT FOUNDER’S STORY
My name is Jimmy. I once ran a successful brick and mortar business and I'm probably the most unlikely person to head an online courier company which I co-founded in 2012. This is my story and also the story of Parcelport.
In 2009, when my father fell ill, I took time off my then business to look after him. He passed away at the end of 2009. Over the next two years I went on to complete 99% of the tasks that he had asked of me while he was in his sick bed, including taking mum on a few overseas trips, helping some family members, complete some of his wishes and taking care of some business.
Only one thing I rebelled on is that I went on to start Parcelport against the advice of my father. My father believes in cashing in at the right time, taking the winnings and enjoy the fruit of his labour. He himself, retired at a relatively young age although he didn’t take his business to a higher level I thought he could have. He lived comfortably and enjoyed a long retirement. At the time I had a successful business. My father knowing me as the serial entrepreneur that I am, he worried that I would take my winnings and commit it all into another start-up, in which I could lose everything.
I was a broken man having lost my father – a mentor, a business partner - who I am very close to, in my early 30s. I was too young to “retire” and by 2012 I was ready to start my next business venture.I met Grant who runs a small web design company to help me build a website. Soon we're in business. With online shopping becoming more and more popular, taking payment online and shipping goods out to customers is becoming a real challenge for small to medium size businesses. The company is formed to provide online payment and courier solutions to small and medium enterprises.
I came up with the name Payport - Pay as in payment and Port symbolised shipping (as our parcel business had started to take off). The company was eventually rebranded as Parcelport as we know it today - luckily we didn’t have to change our P logo. Grant’s wife Lenka designed the blue P logo that we still have today. Soon we have Lauren to join us as our first staff member and she is still with us today.
We partnered with Paymark as our payment partner and Posthaste as our courier partner. Posthaste took a punt on us when we were nobody and didn’t even have a single customer. We would eventually go on to become one of Posthaste's biggest customers.
Chen, who had recently lost his job in a restructuring, joined us as our first web developer. In two month’s time, a basic version of the system is ready and we hire Gustav as our first salesperson.
At first a few customers started to use us, then there were ten, twenty, a hundred and so it grew. Customers started to refer their friends and business associates to us. Before not too long we had a few hundred customers signed up. Happily, most of these customers are still with us today :-)
Since that time, the system has evolved through a number of upgrades and our IT team also grew from one person to seven.
In 2013, the company faced its first big challenge and knowing that most start-up companies will fail in their first year, I bought out the other shareholder and brought my partner Eva in to help turn the company around.
In the early days, as a small company everyone have to do everything, big or small - when we come to work we leave our ego at the door. When a customer rang our customer service line, it would usually be me or Eva who answers the phone. Eva’s previous job was Group General Manager of the multi-national Lei Garden Group with over 2000 employees worldwide. She used to have her own Personal Assistant do all these things for her so working for a small start-up company was a bit of a culture shock for her. She went back to do what she did best before she was GM, which is Sales, and over the next few years our business grew exponentially.
In 2016, the company was ranked 170th in the Deloitte Fast 500 index of the 500 fastest growing technology companies in the Asia Pacific. That same year we were a Finalist at the Westpac Best Emerging Business Awards, the Zino Venture’s New Kiwi Challenge and Techcrunch’s Start-Up Battlefield.
Despite having some small success, Parcelport is still largely an underdog. We were up against industry giants and incumbents - knocking on many doors and having doors slam shut in front of us.
Fortunately, technology is on our side. The internet has allowed online businesses to take on traditional business models and an increasing number of industry players are starting to approach us.
Today we are proud to have partnered up with Freightways, New Zealand Post and TNT Express to offer a number of domestic and international courier options to our customers, such as Castle Parcels, Now Couriers, Pace Couriers, Courier Post, Parcel Post, International Air Parcel, EMS and TNT Express and TNT Economy Express service etc. Additionally we now offer heavier weight domestic shipping options with the TiL Group and Freighthub as well as international logistics solutions with Kerry Logistics.
In 2017 the company successfully raised funds from Zino Ventures, Ice Angels and Callaghan Innovations and had former DHL New Zealand Managing Director and Director of Asia Pacific, Graham Roberts, join our board as Chairman and as an investor.
As our company is moving to the next phase and looking back over the past few years, it has been challenging. Like most entrepreneurial companies, we made it through by being true to our Customers, true to product and service, being persistent, to never give up on our people and to never give up on our dream. We're like the shipping label that sticks to the package until it gets there. Like the package along its journey from the warehouse to the depot, from the airplane to a delivery vehicle, from the delivery vehicle to a home, it passes through so many pairs of hands that help it reach its destination.
People say that it was good of me that I stuck around back in 2013, didn’t give up on the company, helped fix this company and turned it around..... but I would say, I was this broken man grieving for my father and this little company fixes me.This piece is dedicated to all the past and present Parcelport team members, customers, investors who have lent a hand to get us this far. Thank you all.