Failure is a necessary precondition for success, according to Craig Davis the chief marketing officer of start-up company Sendle. Why does Davis believe failure is so great? Well, the birth of Sendle started because of the failure of its original idea: TuShare.
Davis shared the story behind ‘Sendle’ to the crowd at yesterday’s Daze of Disruption conference. Sendle is a company which delivers parcels door-to-door across Australia at flat rates cheaper than traditional post, but that’s not what it originally was meant to be.
“I consider myself to be a serial entrepreneur and a failure,” Davis explained. “Since I left high school; I’ve started and partnered in 11 businesses, worked in five more and six of those 16 have been failures. I feel quite comfortable saying that because I believe failure is a really useful and powerful thing.
“I could stand here and try and paint the picture of brilliant design, searingly smart minds and a trail of success but that would be bullshit. Sendle, like most good ideas and start-ups that start to get real traction, was born out of failure.”
In 2012 Davis and his team created TuShare, a platform where people could share unwanted but still useable goods with people around Australia-no money involved, just giving and sharing. Over two years the TuShare community grew to almost 50,000 members and over 40,000 kgs of items was saved from going to landfill.
“The idea was that I could be in Bondi with an old fondue set that I don’t want, but someone in Darlinghurst might really want that. You could request it and pop past my place in Bondi and pick it up. Except what if you’re in Canberra? It’s unlikely you’ll drive from Canberra to pick up the fondue set.
“To solve this delivery issue we created this low cost, flat rate and near frictionless delivery service which doesn’t require you to go anywhere near the Post Office and inconvenience yourself. We built the ability to deliver things anywhere up to 25 kg nationally cheaper and more conveniently- we picked up a parcel and delivered for $9.75.”
The only problem was people hacked into TuShare just to use its delivery service. eBay sellers would post to TuShare with an already paid-for product and get the buyer to ‘request’ through the platform. “We didn’t imagine that the business would be in delivery, we thought we were solving another problem. But by accident we solved a bigger and more valuable problem.
“We were running two business, but quite painful we came to the realisation that the sharing platform was just not sustainable. TuShare didn’t have a sustainable business model, but we had this delivery business which people were loving and leaning into.” TuShare was disbanded and Sendle was created.
Three learnings from Davis:
1. If you’re embarking or considering embarking on this journey make sure you have a problem worth solving. Make sure you have a problem that is really worth solving and there’s appetite for it. The only thing that turns a crazy idea into a good business is product market fit. If it’s a problem worth solving people will offer to help, Sendle has had partnership with NAB, Etsy and Velocity.
2. Make sure its a hard problem, if it is too easy anyone can do it. You don’t want to be the umpteenth thing heading into the marketplace. If it’s a hard problem then it creates a barrier to entry which make it hard for other people to enter the market.
3. Make it meaningful. The thing we brought from tu-share is the comitmment to service and to understand customers and our community. But cabron neutrality is really important to us, keeping our b-corp status. We wanted to maintain it.