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This startup has figured out a way to make moving less of a pain

We speak to movethisStuff CEO Michaela Hogan about how they are innovating the moving industry


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Some of the most successful startups in recent years have been the ones that offer a solution to the daily headaches faced by the average consumer - whether it's finding a way to get around a busy city, finding accommodation or getting meals delivered. Now there is a startup that answers what may be the worst headache of them all - moving. 

Typically the moving process involves making countless calls, comparing quotes, negotiating rates and ultimately trusting your valuables with unvetted movers. 

movethisStuff, which launched nationwide this month, describes itself as the Uber of "moving stuff". The platform hopes to eliminate the hassle of moving by providing a more streamlined moving process.

"We were first to market with such a business model servicing both customers and movers, our platform is much more than just a service that provides comparative quotes for moving," says CEO and co-founder Michaela Hogan. 

"It's interesting to see how an industry this big has not innovated"

How it works is users are able to detail what they need moved by using the platform's "one touch inventory builder," they then submit their request through the system, compare moving quotes from "reputable and verified" movers, book and pay online, explains Hogan. They are already 300 registered movers on the platform. 

Like Uber, once the job has been completed, both the user and the mover are able to rate and review their experience. 

movethisStuff is the brainchild of Percy Lawrence, who is now the company chief technology officer (CTO). The startup was launched together with Hogan and Paule Welgemoed, the startup's customer service manager. 

SME South Africa speaks to Hogan about bringing tech innovation to the moving process, and the need for more local investors to consider pre-revenue startups. 

Supplied

 Percy Lawrence, Michaela Hogan and Paule Welgemoed.

On bringing tech to the moving industry

The challenge with movers is to try move them away from the very manually driven, paper intensive process they currently use to create quotes and show them how technology can in fact change their lives, saving them both time and money. 

It's very interesting to see how an industry this big has not innovated and is so manually driven. There is so much opportunity, we really believe the future is all about collaborating and bringing technology together. 

On marketing, marketing, marketing

To find customers is not that difficult as people are constantly moving, however it does take a considerable amount of marketing to make sure one is reaching the correct target audience and customers which both take time and money. 

We are using mostly digital marketing strategies to market our service to customers and movers, as well as "word of mouth" referrals  is the best form of marketing. We truly believe it is about the customer experience, our objective every time someone uses movethisStuff is to create wow experience. 

On funding

movethisStuff received R350 000 for winning second prize in the #HackJozi competition last year which helped fund the business up until now. We have bootstrapped the company to-date. We are now currently looking to raise a round of capital which will enable us to scale and grow faster. 

On their biggest needs right now

Time - there is never enough time in the day to get to everything and do everything 

Resources – we have bootstrapped the company to-date and hence only have access to a limited number of resources in our team. We are currently looking to raise a round of capital, which will enable us to have access to additional resources to alleviate many of our challenges. Making sure you have the right skills in the right place and if you don’t have that particular skill on board means you have to find innovative and smart ways of finding it at a very low cost or no cost at all.

Focus - it's so easy to get distracted with all the shiny objects along the way when speaking to your mentors, advisors, friends, family, industry leaders & most importantly your customers etc. Everyone has their own opinion and wants to add different features or bring new ideas to the table. Keeping focused on what needs to be done without getting distracted is challenging. 

On what no one tells you about being a startup founder

There is never enough time in the day to get through everything, opportunities are everywhere you just need to be able to identify them and take action, and lastly it is the best decision anyone will ever make. 

However don’t be fooled by the success of an entrepreneur, it has taken many years, months and very long days to be rewarded in public for the success of their product or service. 

Building a startup is both challenging and rewarding, however the rewards definitely out weight the challenges in my opinion 

On vision 

We want to create the fastest growing logistics on-demand platform for moving stuff globally across multiple verticals, and provide a platform where both technology and collaboration meet. We also want to contribute to job creation within South Africa by enabling the "man with a van" access to customers. 

We will be launching our mobile app and then taking movethisStuff into the rest of Africa. 

"Make sure you have the right people in the right positions on your team"

On SA's entrepreneurship ecosystem

South Africa lacks investors that can see the potential in both the idea and the team to execute the product or service in the market. There is a level of narrow-minded thinking when it comes to investing in startups versus the thinking methodology that is used in Silicon Valley for example. 

South African investors prefer to invest post revenue versus investing pre-revenue which makes it that much harder for a startup to succeed as funding is hard to come by to further the development of the idea. Investors are more inclined to invest in you as a startup once you have validated your product or service in the market and can prove to them there is a clear market fit. 

However, most startups are not fortunate enough to reach post-revenue stage due to the lack of support provided by South Africa, we require more support from corporates, fellow successful entrepreneurs and the government in order to provide the correct support and funding for entrepreneurs to succeed in the current economy. 

On startup advice

Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are ready to give up your 'free time, sleep, time with family and friends etc. Are you ready and willing to give it everything you’ve got to succeed?  If the answer is yes, get ready, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! 

3 key tips of advice:
- Surround yourself with great mentors
- Make sure you have the right people in the right positions on your team and;  
- Most of all have fun while you are doing it! If you do not love what you do then keep looking, do not settle, life is too short to be unhappy.

On what we wish we had known going in

How hard it was going to be! No, only joking. It would probably be the importance of maintaining a laser focus on your product and or service. To not get lost and distracted by all the shiny objects - by shiny objects I mean by all the noise of all the amazing ideas, features, bells and whistles. 

Build your MVP (minimal viable product) and get it out to market as fast as possible, test it, consolidate feedback from your customers, focus on user experience, fix bugs as fast as possible and market your product and or service to your target audience. 

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