Joel MacDonald – CEO and co-founder of Swift

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Joel is an ex-professional footballer who spent a number of years competing in the AFL. Whilst training at the elite level, Joel has co-founded and run a number of companies and brings extensive commercial experience in sales and marketing. Joel believes the race is on for marketshare in the point-to-point logistics sector, and companies who position themselves today will enjoy exponential efficiency gains when drones and self driving cars are finally available for commercial use.

Tell us a little bit about your idea.

Swift is an on­-demand delivery platform that gets online orders to customers faster and more conveniently than ever before. Retailers and customers are connected by a network of ‘crowdsourced’ drivers who pick up ordered items from the closest retail outlet and then deliver to customers within the hour or at a convenient scheduled time. The power of the Swift business model is the decentralised warehouse logistics platform that can enable any retailer to offer an express 60 minute delivery option to the end user. The future of online e-commerce logistics!

 What made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

A few of us became tired of ordering items online and waiting 5 days to have it delivered.

For example, say I live 500m from a Country Road store but don’t have time to go in store, wait in line, and make a purchase. So I order online but the item gets dispatched from one of their warehouses perhaps in Western Sydney, hence the 5 day delivery wait via a slow incumbent courier company who says “hey, we can deliver only if you are home between 9am and 5pm to accept delivery”, oh and who knows when we will be there, heres a 16 digit tracking number that tells you it is in Melbourne or Sydney. What a terrible experience! Why can’t that same item be dispatched from a Country Road that is nearby and someone deliver it within the hour?

Then we started noticing trends in the US where retailers were were beginning to increase their digital footprints and discovered that their bricks and mortar stores can also be utilised as incredibly flexible and robust dispatch warehouses. Thereby increasing shareholder value higher compared to their pure-play ecommerce competitors. The emergence of click-and-collect software was finally allowing retailers to bridge the online/offline convenience gap and distribution to the customer was becoming faster from a network of local ‘dispatch’ stores.

We wanted to take this a step further and create a company that connected a flexible local workforce to merchants or consumers who wanted local goods dispatched fast and direct from the bricks-and-mortar store.

So we started delivering liquor from local liquor stores to get an understanding of on-demand logistics from our first startup, www.liquorun.com.

Then after 6 months of testing, Swift (www.getswift.co) was created, we raised some money and now Swift is enabling hundreds of retailers in Australia and America to offer 60 minute delivery to their local customers!

Please explain your business model (How do you make money?)

  • We charge delivery fees for every delivery fulfilled.
  • Data.. (in the future)

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?

We are really excited about some of our US partnerships. US is the main market we want to be doing business in and we will have some exciting announcements to make very shortly about our first batch of delivery partnerships

How do you make ideas happen?

I really like the Nike slogan of “Just do it”. It couldn’t be more true in the world of “starting a business”

Everyone has an idea. And it probably isn’t worth anything without execution.

Also:

Fuck business plans.

That is 3 days of wasted time you could have been testing ideas, building and validating your ideas with real customers and people. The people who are actually going to pay for your product or service. How do you know what to plan for your business when you haven’t started learning from the actual market?

So why not just start “doing it” and stop procrastinating, and be prepared to use failure as a great learning tool and then get up and go again; persevere until you have a few customers paying you for the service or product. Then talk to them, and learn how you can create more value for them, and work out how to attract more customers, and what that is going to cost you per customer.

I find that is how I make ideas happen. I like just doing it and getting started. Then we can work out the plan later once we know we have something that people will pay for!

What does your typical day look like?

It is nothing really out of the ordinary.

  1. Wake up 8am.
  2. Food.
  3. Gym.
  4. Emails, meetings & planning.
  5. More Food.
  6. Emails, meetings, planning.
  7. More Food.
  8. Emails, meetings, planning.
  9. Bed 11pm.

Swift office

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

In the early days when we were delivering liquor, the Police tried to shut us down, the VCGLR called me in for an investigation upon a breach of the Liquor reform act, and then I was summoned to the Magistrates court for apparently filling the liquor licence application form in incorrectly.

In our first few months of going live it felt like everyone wanted us shut down and it took a lot of inner strength to hang in there during those stressful times.

Luckily we had a bit of fight in us and we have gotten to a stage now where I look back and truly believe that if you are passionate enough about your idea and what you stand for, then this passion will help you persevere right through stressful and challenging times.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

We are constantly looking for new customer acquisition channels and a central place to manage it all.

I would love to have a platform or tool that managed all of our online marketing efforts in one platform, plugged our google analytics or facebook ads or instagram posts all into the one portal to be managed and tweaked on a daily basis.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?

Zwype.com is a mobile payments app that excites me.

They have come out of the same BlueChilli program that we did, have a great team and the verticals they can expand into beyond bar and restaurant tabs are really exciting!

What about internationally?

I love using Venmo to pay friends

Instacart for grocery shopping.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

I love the logistics and capacity utilisation space.

People needing to be moved in the same direction, like a bus service, is sort of starting to happen already in the US, and I want Swift to be able to batch people and parcels together in the future to get delivery and transport costs really low for the consumer. How does this correlate to social change? Car ownership and carbon emission reductions is a big issue and this product could have a large impact in reducing the problem.

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

Yes.

Funding: [email protected]

Marketing: [email protected]

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Longtime in Brisbane is one of my closest friend’s restaurants, and their food is a better version of Chin Chin in Melbourne. Asian Mary Shots and the duck curry is two of my fav’s.

The tacos at Cafe Habana or the taco truck in Chelsea markets both in NYC are yummo!

Dudley’s do a sweet avocado toast in Lower East Side

Basically any bar in NYC that sells Modelo Especial in a can I would be happy to sit at for a few hours.

 

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