Because we were once a small start-up too
As Parcelport marks its 10th anniversary, we are proud to introduce Parcelport Start-Up Fund. Our journey from a small start-up to where we stand today has been guided by the invaluable support of our customers, team, and investors. Recognizing the importance of giving back to the entrepreneurial community and the ecommerce industry that we’ve been a part of, we are eager to share our experiences, our story, our successes, and our failures. With this fund, we aim to pay it forward and pay it back to this vibrant ecosystem that has played a crucial role in our growth.
Hi, 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 left 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 never wanted me to start in business, all he wanted of me is to go to university, have a stable job, he had seen many of his friends’ businesses failed over the years, witnessing his own father’s fortune disappear. At the time I had a successful business, my father knowing me as the serial entrepreneur and risk taker 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 itching to find 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 ecommerce businesses.
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 was with us for 7 years before she decided to focus on motherhood.
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, infact we became one of the biggest customers of all the carriers who we partners with.
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 10 years on.
Since that time, the system has evolved through a number of upgrades, credits to our customers feedbacks and our IT team also grew from one person to seven.
In 2013, the company encountered its first significant hurdle. As is often the case with start-up companies, most companies will fail in their first few years, what started as a slient partner, I ended up took on a permanent active role, I bought out the other shareholder and brought 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 a multi-national 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. The following year we were a Finalist at the Westpac Best Emerging Business Awards, Zino Venture’s New Kiwi Challenge and Techcrunch’s Start-Up Battlefield, by 2021 we were the 4th fastest growing company in New Zealand (Deliotte Fast 50) and made the list of the UK Financial Times – High Growth Companies in Asia Pacific, ranked 1st in New Zealand. 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, Aramex, Fedex, TNT Express, Asendia, SF Express, Fliway to offer a number of domestic and international courier options to our customers, with brands such as Castle Parcels, Now Couriers, KiwiExpress, Pace Couriers, Courier Post, Parcel Post, International Air Parcel, EMS etc. Additionally we now offer heavier weight domestic shipping options with the Fliway as well as international logistics solutions with Kerry Logistics.
Against my father’s advice, I invested a significant portion of the proceeds from my previous business into Parcelport. Prior to seeking funding from investors, there were times when I had to max out my personal credit cards to ensure we pay our staff and suppliers on time. I struggle with public speaking and I stutter with certain words, however, I had to step outside of my comfort zone to pitch to investors. In 2017, our company successfully secured funding from Zino Ventures, Icehouse Ventures, and Angel HQ. We were fortunate to have Graham Roberts, former CEO of DHL New Zealand and Director of DHL Asia Pacific, join our board as Chairman and investor. Additionally, in 2023, Roman Zhu, former General Manager of Alibaba Group, joined us as the Head of Parcelport eCommerce School & Start-Up Fund.
As our company is moving to the next phase and looking back over the past 10 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. Today, we are deeply humbled by the fact that many of our customers have been with us for over a decade, numerous team members have dedicated more than 5 years of their own lives to our cause, and several investors have stood by our side for over 6 years. 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. This story is dedicated to all the past and present Parcelport team members, customers, investors who have lent a hand to get us this far. I wish my father were here to see this.
Parcelport Start-Up Fund offers a range of support to ecommerce businesses by providing advice, assist fundraising, mentoring, resources, and possible funding and investments. If you are interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org