Farhaj Mayan of Kanna

Shutting down a startup, investing in vice industries, and the future of Cannabis.

Farhaj Mayan is the co-founder and CEO of Kanna, a marketplace to find gigs in the cannabis industry. You can follow Farhaj on Twitter @farhajmayan.

Prior to founding Kanna, you started Fade, a mobile app connecting barbers and clients. What were some key takeaways from that experience?

The booking platform ecosystem was very crowded.

Last time we checked, around 36 different calendar + booking + payments solutions were in the market. We thought we differentiated ourselves by focusing on the barbering and men’s grooming niche and we were right.

However, we realized that Fade was a vitamin and not a painkiller and it never made that transition. We charged a $25 monthly subscription fee to barbers who wanted a sophisticated and customizable calendaring tool but we were building product for our end users.

Although by personalizing barber recommendations, we reduced barber discovery and first booking time to ~3 mins vs the industry average of 46-52 mins, we couldn’t build out and incentivize barbers, the supply side of our marketplace from disintermediating.

Our cohort retention numbers were terrible.

By the time we realized it was time to pivot and refocus efforts on the calendaring software but it was too late. Our direct competitors Squire and theCut raised fresh rounds and our CAC 32x’d over night. We decided to fold the company.

Key takeaways:

  1. Build high-touch relationships with your customers - the importance of obsessively interviewing customers early on and discovering the “hair on fire” problem is so underrated, especially during the $0-100k ARR stage. Just watched the SUS video where Brian share the tipping point for Airbnb - PG told them to get out of Mountainview and spend time with real customers.

  2. If you have an idea for a marketplace. Build a low-code/no-code MVP till you hit $2.5k-10k MRR. This proves people are willing to pay to solve said problem and helps you iterate on product with little to no technical debt or carving out a chunk from your cap table.

  3. Keep team very lean. For software startups till your ready for a seed round, I’d recommend keeping your founding team lean (3 tops). All you need is a hacker (builds product), hipster (designs product and brand) and hustler (sells it).

  4. Don’t get lost in the next feature fallacy and overdevelop your product. First time founders find themselves in this position frequently because they want to launch a “perfect” product. Hot take: only thing it’s going to do is increase your credit card and technical debt with no real impact on customer experience or traction.

One of the hardest problems that marketplace businesses face in the early days is solving the chicken-and-egg problem. Which side (supply/demand) is your priority right now and why?

There are three major “hair on fire problems” in Cannabis - Compliance, Banking and Hiring. There are a lot of great startups/scaleups working on compliance and recently banking but hiring solutions are still in the nascent stage. 

We’ve noticed due to the exponential growth of the cannabis industry building our demand side (farms and dispensaries who need to hire) is relatively easy.

In fact just through word of mouth, we’ve received inbound interest from 68 farms in Oklahoma and some massive operations from across the states.

The real challenge which we’ve acknowledged is going to be building out the supply side of our marketplace - finding that scalable process to onboard and vet gig workers in a market where a farm is looking to hire talent.

Facebook puts most cannabis businesses in jail when it comes to advertising so both FB/IG and even Google ads are a no go. We’ve found ourselves experimenting with traditional marketing methods recently and creating viral loops within our platform to generate impressions for the top of our marketing funnel.

Marketplaces generally thrive in highly fragmented markets (when there are alot of buyers + sellers). What does the existing cannabis market look like? 

34 states have legalized cannabis (11 legalized recreational). There are over 39,000 licensed cannabis businesses across the US in legal markets.

As of Jan ‘19, 296,000 people have gotten jobs in Cannabis and around 40% of those jobs were gigs like trimming, budtending, packaging, retail and security jobs that help cannabis business owners take their produce from seed to sale.

With an industry CAGR of 28% it’s safe to assume that by 2024 at least half a million people will be gig workers in Cannabis.

Cannawages also pay 11-15% higher than the median salary across the US.

However, due to the lack of banking access most farms and dispensaries have to transact purely in cash which is very cumbersome and honestly terrifying. The SAFE banking act just passed through the House, Senate is voting on it soon - fingers crossed.

Most importantly, when it comes to hiring, employers really struggle because there’s no standard vetting process, it’s hard to verify black market experience and translate it to legal market qualifications.

On the other hand, almost 720 people have gone missing in Humboldt County California having been kidnapped, murdered or disappearing entirely after being recruited to trim and harvest at black market farms.

What are some common misbeliefs that people (say investors) hold about the cannabis industry, and how do you address them?

Often times we have to disqualify investors from the get-go since some have vice clauses in place that trickle down from their LP’s or are a part of their investment thesis. That’s totally fine and I respect that!

I also think the industry still hasn’t been destigmatized for a lot of people.

Honestly, it took me going to visit a farm, sitting in on a trim session and meeting the faces behind the company, owners, workers and stakeholders to realize they’re just like anyone else but severely underserved.

People still think of it as a recreational drug and don’t see the medicinal impact that it’s had. Oklahoma for example has seen a 30% drop in opioid prescriptions within less than a year of medical cannabis being legalized.

People also don’t recognize how much disenfranchisement happened during the prohibition on Marijuana. When you look at the diversity of business owners and investors profiting off of the cannabis industry it’s clear that most are white. Don’t get me wrong I think everybody should be able to benefit from this incredible industry.

However, for the people who were incarcerated and had their lives ruined through the war on drugs with most of them being black and brown they deserve some sort of reparations whether in the form of startup grants, education or employment opportunities to make their living through this industry.

We’re consciously building this into our business processes and company culture, even when it comes to the diversity and distribution of gig workers and our core team.

We firmly believe that as this industry continues to see exponential growth education will be critical to ensure that it has the right impact.

Why is right now the perfect time for Kanna to exist in the world? (What trends are you seeing? What exist now that didn't previously exist?)

We understand the market for cannabis workers and services is fragmented because of polarizing local laws and market needs which translates to a huge opportunity for being first movers into smaller, less sought after markets and setting the standard.

Also, the regulatory nature of the industry will edge it towards a place where having compliant hiring processes in place will become more important than ever as incumbent companies become more competitive leading to regulatory entities seeking more transparency.

This is no simple task for a small to midsize operation to achieve themselves.

Our goal is to become the first-mover in creating a platform that handles the full vertical of finding, vetting, licensing, training, and insuring workers in cannabis, much like how Wonderschool or Honor have done for their respective industries.

The key to winning however will be a combination of the speed and quality of service.

What we've realized, as with most similar gig-focused marketplace, focusing on building the supply-side of workers and demand-side of employers at speed is replicable, thus mirrored by the fierce competition in many of these industries.

What truly differentiates a marketplace from its competitors now is owning the full vertical to produce a better end product than your competitor.

Back then, a moat could be built with scale and speed at your back, but now, a moat of product experience and platform trust in the marketplace is equally, if not more defensible.

This is where we're focused on doing better than any of our competitors.

We put together the right team. Brad, Vu and I have a deep understanding of marketplaces through our previous ventures.

We know how to build platforms that can combat disintermediation, incentivize the supply and demand side and have the technical background to launch and iterate quickly with almost no technical debt.

Our co-founder Ziljian is the owner of vertically integrated cannabis operation in Oklahoma (MedInc grow farms and Kanna Kures dispensaries). Mick, a 2x cannabis cup winning grower is also advising us. We have a very tight feedback loop for the initial product due to Ziljian and Mick's deep industry insight. Their industry connections have also helped us achieve early traction in a very short period of time.

There are more job openings in cannabis every day than people who are qualified to fulfill them.

With the exponential growth the industry will see over the next 5 years we believe Kanna’s managed marketplace model is strategically positioned to provide real value to both employers and job seekers.

Our biggest challenge will be figuring out a scalable onboarding process to fill the top of our marketing funnel with qualified gig workers. Once we’re able to calculate how much it truly costs to open the marketplace within that zip code we believe we can hit the ground running and start expanding into other legal states (if it isn’t federally legal by then) relatively quickly.

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Justin Potts of Avenify

Working at ProductHunt and Republic, ISAs, and the future of education financing.

Justin Potts is the co-founder and CEO of Avenify, a platform for students to borrow money for school and pay nothing until they’re employed. You can follow Justin on Twitter @PottsJustin.

Prior to starting Avenify, you worked at Product Hunt & Republic. Before that, you started a machine learning startup to detect abuse and harassment on the web.

What were some key takeaways from those experiences?

  • Timing is key. We knew online harassment was a big issue. As kids who grew up on the internet, we saw it happen every day. As the effects became more publicized and abuse on platforms became more widespread, there were calls to platforms from parents, educators, journalists, and consumers to do something about it. That really helped us build momentum in the community and made it much easier to get pilots with companies.

  • Talk to your customers. From Day One, we started conversations with potential customers. In hindsight, I'm surprised they even took our calls — though it might've been an effect of #1 — but working with them early meant we knew exactly what we needed to build and focus on to convert them into a paying customer.

  • Build something meaningful. Startups are really hard, so it's important to find the thing that keeps you going. For me, it's the effect that my startup can have on people's lives, whether that's preventing harassment, or helping them pay for school. I'm a big believer in building businesses that do good and do well. I highly recommend Biz Stone's book, Things a Little Bird Told Me. He touches a lot on the idea of profits with purpose.

What key belief was Avenify founded upon?

We're building a world where anyone, anywhere, can afford an education. We're doing this by offering financing that's affordable, transparent, interest-free, outcome-based, and incentive-aligned.

Which side (students/investors) is your priority right now, why, and what are you doing to acquire them?

We're working on building great experiences for both students and investors, but in terms of acquisition strategies, we're focusing a lot on onboarding new investors and converting existing investors on our platform.

Students are always looking for better, friendlier ways to pay for school, so we always have students signing up. It's about scaling the capital markets side so we have the funding to support the demand.

In our conversations with potential investors, we learned two main things: 1) Investors want the opportunity to build their own portfolios of students, and 2) Investors care a lot about the students, not just the financial returns.

Something we're excited about is the upcoming launch of student profiles and investments in individual students. Student profiles will give students the opportunity to share more about themselves, through short bios and Q&As, and make a more compelling case as to why investors should pick them.

What does a typical student and investor on Avenify look like?

We have a really diverse set of students on Avenify.

We have students from all types of schools, including community colleges, public state schools, HBCUs, Ivy Leagues, and even coding bootcamps like Lambda School, studying everything from computer science, political science, to biomedical engineering, to psychology. You name a school or a major, we probably have it.

On average, students are looking to borrow about $10,000 and generally have low levels of other debt.

Investors are typically individuals excited about alternative assets or ISAs, looking to diversify their portfolio, and make an impact while doing so. Our standard ISA has a 120-month payback period.

Avenify wouldn't be possible without ISA's. What do most people get wrong about Income Share Agreements, and why have they been more popular in the last two years than before?

A lot of opponents of ISAs often claim they're "predatory" or a form of "indentured servitude."

I can't speak to any other ISA providers, but I know as recent students ourselves, my-co-founder, Timo, and I place a high level of importance on building student-friendly financing.

It's why we tailor each ISA to each student's profile, so they receive terms that work for them. It's why we include qualifications for deferment, like if the student goes back to school or becomes unemployed.

It's why we built in a progressive payback cap — something 100% unique to Avenify — that scales with the amount of time the student's been in repayment so they can pay off their ISA early without paying a ridiculous effective rate.

Over the past few years, there's been a lot of movement around ISAs that's helped bring more awareness and credibility to the space.

App Academy, founded in 2012, became the first coding bootcamp to offer ISAs. More recently, Lambda School has risen to prominence, its founder Austen Allred becoming an outspoken evangelist for ISAs and the need for reform in higher education.  In 2016, Purdue became the first major university to launch an ISA program, partnering with Vemo Education to service the ISAs.

As ISAs start to become more mainstream, we see an increasing need for a platform like Avenify that allows for students to finance their education with an ISA, regardless of where they attend school or what they want to study, and pair the opportunity with the ability for investors to partake in a new asset class and invest in human potential.

Why is right now the perfect time for Avenify to exist in the world?

The total amount of student debt outstanding is approaching $2 trillion. It's been called a national crises by everyone from Elizabeth Warren to Betsy DeVos. But the student debt crisis doesn’t exist because a college degree isn’t worth it - at least not yet.

The lifetime value of an average Bachelor’s degree is $2.8 million, and the difference in lifetime earnings between a college grad and a non-college grad grows every year. In 2002, Bachelor’s degree holders had 75% higher lifetime earnings than those with just a high school diploma. Now, they earn 84% more.

Clearly, the cost of higher education is worth it, so the problem isn’t the value of the education. It’s how traditional lenders are setting the price for students -- a mismatch between credit terms and earning potential. Students receiving incredibly valuable degrees are being given the same terms as comparable students receiving degrees that guarantee lower lifetime earnings.

We can fix this.

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Cam Sadler of NewCraft

Labor markets, the YC network, and the future of hiring.

Cam Sadler is the co-founder and CEO of NewCraft, a hiring marketplace to get competing job offers from tech companies. You can follow Cam on Twitter @RulesByCam.

What's the founding story behind NewCraft?

Before NewCraft I worked as a teacher and career coach.

One day I was helping a student job search and it sucked. Without a connect, this student and many others have zero chance of finding meaningful paid work. Labor markets live offline, candidates and companies rely on referrals.

I put in my resignation a week later, pulled $15K from my IRA and started building NewCraft.

NewCraft is a real-time feed of pending interviews, job offers and acquihires happening across the tech labor market. Candidates trending in the feed get multiple competing offers from top companies.

In what ways has going through YC helped you get from where you were initially, to where you are now, and going in the future?

YC supplies us with a constant network of great companies that are hiring rapidly and people who are transitioning from founders to become top 20% candidates in the labor market.

This helped us go from 0 to 10 customers in the early days and continues to be a reliable channel for growth. YC partners are also very supportive post-batch.

What do you believe about labor markets, and how has that evolved over time?

Today, it is impossible to clearly identify thousands of qualified, in-market candidates in real-time.

Labor markets don't have enough nodes connecting people to opportunity. Think of labor markets as Twitter but before hashtags, there's no way to programmatically surface the most relevant candidates and opportunities.

Even after countless phone screens, interviews, and $20k in recruiting cost per candidate companies only close 30% of candidates offered.

Hiring remains the single greatest challenge for every company.

Candidates face similar challenges.

Job applications are largely a formality so most candidates start by running through their contacts, reaching out to people they haven't seen in years for coffee meetings, completing 2-hour phone screens for every company, losing entire days to on-site interviews and being so exhausted at the end they skim over important details in the first offer.

The world needs a labor market powered by the internet. Imagine labor supply and demand trending in real-time. This is what we do at NewCraft.

What do you envision NewCraft's sustainable competitive advantage being?

There a few but the most obvious is being the system of record for interviews and offers across the labor market. This creates a huge data advantage.

Why is right now the perfect time for NewCraft to exist in the world?

  1. Competition for talent more fierce 

Labor has always had leverage but now (from sports to engineering) labor has figured out how to use it via free-market principles. This is an underrated shift. 

Pareto's distribution is quietly happening in the labor market.

Just as there's a top 20% that has aggregated most of the world's wealth, there will be a top 20% to eat most of the world's work.

52% of fortune 500 companies have disappeared since 2000 along with millions of small businesses, all replaced by tech startups who almost exclusively compete for top 20% talent.

The best-case equation for the future of work is 20% of people in the labor market create 80% of the jobs for everyone else.

In practice, this means companies hiring top candidates have to also hire their teams. For example, Zoom hires a top senior engineer, their friend who is a top designer and 3 entry-level engineers for them to mentor as a package.

  1. Candidates are harder to evaluate

When labor was repetitive, talent was easy to identify, most corporations simply wanted obedience. Now that work is more creative and dynamic, companies have a hard time accurately defining what type of candidate they are looking for.

Even when defined, requirements change fast and it’s nearly-impossible to predict how well a candidate will perform without meeting them on-site. Everything before an on-site is just guessing. Now is the best time to make on-site data shareable. 

  1. Candidates are smarter about compensation 

With the rise of tools like Glassdoor, Compound and Blind candidates have a better sense of what fair compensation looks like. Companies that start with low-ball offers don’t stand a chance.  

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Matt Redler of Chefit

Personal chefs for everyone, why other players in this space failed, and the future of eating.

Matt Redler is the co-founder and CEO of Chefit, a marketplace to book a personal chef at the same price as a restaurant meal. You can follow Matt on Twitter @RedlerMatt.

If I wanted to book a personal chef through Chefit, what would that experience look & feel like, end-to end?

Today, our booking process is a bit insane while we operate out of a duct-taped MVP.

Diners head to chefit.com and view all the local chefs (and their menus). After finding a menu they're interested in, the customer will fill out a form where we get the basic information of their dinner. We then reach out to the chef to see if he/she is available. After which we send the client another form to actually order off the chef's menu.

Lastly, we make an invoice and send it to the client for payment. This is insane... I know :) We're currently rebuilding the platform from scratch to allow chefs to input their availability on the backend, and for clients to filter chefs by availability when they're searching on our site. This way, they can find a chef, order, and pay in one swift process.

The chef will arrive at the diner's home with ingredients and kitchenware (pots, pans, kitchen knives) in hand. The diner provides the serve-ware (plates, utensils, etc) which allows the chef to leave as soon as the meal is served instead of eaten.

In less than 90 minutes from when a chef arrives at a home, a beautiful, fresh, home-cooked meal is served family-style.

Which side (demand/supply) is your priority now and why?

Acquiring chefs has been relatively easy. We've learned that many restaurant chefs are shook at the thought of operating their own micro-traveling-restaurant with Chefit.

Our opportunity is in stark contrast from the typical restaurant job, where chefs are in a high-stress, high-labor environment, cooking someone else's menu for absurdly low pay.

Our current focus is proving out that families can see Chefit as a utility and not a novelty. By bringing the cost of personal chefs down from $70+ per person to restaurant prices ($15+ per person), we're hoping to be an everyday "what are we doing for dinner" solution.

Tell me more…

For the longest time, because personal chefs were so inefficient and therefore expensive, chefs could not succeed unless they were a borderline celebrity chef with an ultra-wealthy clientele that could subsidize their one-dinner-a-night career.

The category we are building — efficient, casual, personal chef services — has not only made personal chefs accessible to everyday families, but has also made a dream career option a reality for restaurant and amateur chefs.

We couldn't be more excited about helping talented hard working people start their own micro-restaurants. More than half of our chefs have never been personal chefs before. Yet, clients rave about them. These are insanely talented individuals that were previously boxed out of their ideal career because of a poor business model.

We're happy to say that we've fixed it — and are democratizing the personal chef space for chefs and families alike.

In the past, a few companies in this space shut down due to regulatory issues and unsustainable business models. What did they do wrong and what are you doing different and right?

The major players that were killed by regulatory issues relied on chefs cooking food in their own home and selling it to others.

This recently changed in California, and may be the start of a larger trend nationwide. That said, being a personal chef — meaning going into a client's home and cooking for them —  is legal nationwide.

The two startups that were unsuccessful in their attempt to build a personal chef marketplace failed largely because they were set up as a single virtual restaurant rather than a peer to peer marketplace.

These services would offer a single menu online. When customers would order, a random chef would be summoned to the home to cook. Ultimately, these startups had to worry about ingredient costs, food waste, and paying hourly workers regardless of demand. Imagine if Uber had to pay for the gas of all of its drivers, and pay those drivers an hourly wage regardless of whether ride requests were coming in.

Essentially, Chefit is set up as a platform that connects chef's micro-restaurants with nearby families. The chefs create their own menus, set their own prices, and are responsible for their ingredients. In exchange for handling the business side of the operations, Chefit simply takes a cut of every check.

Why is right now the perfect time for Chefit to exist?

For one, ordering food of one's phone is becoming a consistent behavior trend.

More importantly, 75% of families with kids in school have both parents working. As a result, convenience is becoming the number one factor around food decisions and people are settling for cold, soggy, unhealthy food delivery far too often.

I believe this is the perfect time for the rise of a dinner solution that is the same price and level of convenience of food delivery, but a 10X better food experience because a local chef cooks the meal fresh in your kitchen :)

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Chad Wittman of Dolly

Launching in 2014, marketplace liquidity, and the future of delivery.

Chad Wittman is the co-founder and VP of Product & Operations at Dolly, an on-demand moving and furniture delivery marketplace. You can follow Chad on Twitter @ChadWittman

You co-founded Dolly in 2014. What was starting, building, and scaling a marketplace like back then, and how has it changed over time?

2014 was full of folks trying to figure out the next Uber for X. This was a bit of a blessing and a curse for everyone that was in the general space. Investors either hated or loved the pitches in this space, but thankfully most customers were clamoring for these types of solutions.

Without Uber coming first, none of the other gig economy companies would have had the success they had. Customers needed the mental model and trust in the general concept before they would trust a "regular person" to take on their "specialized" work requests. This made starting easier than I typically would expect. 

As for building and scaling, we had to invent a lot of our own solutions or find vendors that were not thinking about this deeply yet.

For background checks I remember Googling "top background check company" and Sterling came up. We scheduled a call and the amount of manual work required to run background checks was insane to me. They had some flavors of integrations, but they clearly weren't built for developers. 

Another challenge emerged with managing a flow of gig economy applicants all the way to activation. We found a small company called OnboardIQ and we were one of their larger customers.

This allowed us to work closely with their team to help them better understand our challenges, luckily this allowed for their product to move in a direction that greatly benefited us quickly. They would go on to build a pretty big company now called Fountain. 

So you had this blend of old archaic systems + new nimble startups thinking about solving for marketplaces. This is definitely the biggest change in the past 5 years when it comes to building and scaling a company in this space.

Maintaining a balance of supply and demand in a marketplace is vital to achieving liquidity. How did you figure out the right balance of supply & demand, and how was that measured?

The balance of supply & demand is very unique to each company. It really depends on the utilization of each side, in addition to the value that's being created in the marketplace.

A unit of supply in our world can maybe do 5 Dollys per day, a customer may only need 1 Dolly every 3 months. So you have an equation that supports say 5 Dollys * 90 days = 450:1 ratio between our drivers & our customers.

This is more of a hypothetical ceiling, you also need to look at the typical utilization rate of your supply and the peak demand.

For example, say you have a 1,000 helpers available in a market on a given day, that gives you a theoretical 1,000 * 5 = 5,000 units of supply for the day.

But if your peak demand is 5,000 units of demand all requesting work at 10am, you actually only have 1,000 units of supply capacity for your peak hour. You're 1/5th supplied, but it's not economical to 5x your supply to cover only 1 hour of demand. 

I'll stop the math, but my point here is that you have to look at a couple of key pieces of data for each marketplace: capacity, peak capacity, demand, peak demand, utilization rate, & some sort of error rate to help fix things when they don't go as planned. 

The way I like to think about liquidity is over a dimension of time.

How does low liquidity in a given market impact our performance? What does high liquidity unlock in a given market? Is supply or demand easier to acquire or retain? What about a new market in low liquidity? Where can we invest to prop up demand or supply to start unlocking the benefits of high liquidity? How can we accelerate that flywheel sooner? 

To answer your question more directly, we look at things like customer price, driver earnings, customer ratings, driver ratings, a few proprietary driver metrics that try to assess a high quality experience on our platform, booking-to-fulfilled time, and other metrics that may be tangential to these concepts. 

What do you consider to be Dolly's sustainable competitive advantage?

Competition in our space is a really interesting topic. For the most part, most of the startups are hardly competing against each other.

We're really competing against non-consumption, traditional logistics / delivery companies, and truck rental (like U-Haul). To best answer your question, we'd need to talk about competition in each vector. 

For non-consumption, it's about educating the market to our solution & converting them into our customers.

I like to think about this in Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm mental model. For the people on the more progressive side of consumer mindset, we just need to let them know we exist & to try us once.

Once you get the Dolly mental model in your head, you'll see the world differently and will naturally leverage our service as you need it in your life.

For the folks on the more conservative side of the consumer mindset, we need to make sure we've built a great service that addresses their concerns. That might be things like top notch insurance, partnerships, & guarantees. 

For traditional logistics & delivery companies, it's about offering a product & service they have a really hard time providing.

I'm a big fan of Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma framework and I think it's really applicable in this particular case.

Most businesses tend to look upstream with their product offering. Additionally, they're by definition anchored to their unique value proposition. In this case, that's having large delivery trucks that are optimized to do efficient milk-run routes.

The upside with this strategy is that they can drive down costs against their fleets and any idle time for their delivery network. The downside of this approach is that the actual time of delivery per destination is variable, for the customer this manifests itself in a "please be home between 12-5pm for your delivery".

As we know being customers ourselves, that experience sucks. What Dolly offers (and a gig economy marketplace in general) helps enable is a smaller unit of supply (predominantly pickup trucks for us) that allows us to offer a much more customer oriented experience.

We can flex capacity, we can run point-to-point, we can do milk-runs, we can fulfill orders with a dynamic supply base of vehicle types. So for us, that means offering an excellent customer focused experience that's on the customer's schedule, with maximum customer service, and an even cheaper price. 

For truck rental, it's about trading money for time. It's often going to be slightly cheaper to rent a truck and do it yourself, but you're going to have a lot more headaches and probably 3x the time.

For us, this is about demonstrating this value proposition and making the entire process seamless. Every step of the process that adds time or stress, makes us less compelling against truck rental. This drives product development as well as operations, both are key in delivering an exceptional experience.

I view Dolly's sustainable competitive advantage as being a consumer focused, technology forward company built around providing the best way to move a big bulky object from point a to point b.

It sounds pretty simple, and it actually kind of is. The hard part is executing against that vision and not getting trapped into our business' desires instead of our customers.

I'm convinced that this will be the way that people move big bulky objects and I'm hopeful that Dolly is the company is the one that wins the space.

Between the companies doing something similar, we're all racing to see who can get high liquidity nationwide first -- the winner (in theory) should be able to service retailers and people moving alike better than any company out there. 

Some people believe that remote work culture and automation will negatively affect the moving industry and its workers.

What are your thoughts on this and what do you think the future of moving and delivery will look like?

Well there's a very large conversation to be had about automation and its impact on society.

The Agricultural Revolution brought dramatic changes to humanity, yet more jobs were created to now handle this new wave of work. The Industrial Revolution brought further dramatic changes to humanity, again...more jobs were created working on improving & fixing the machines we built.

We're now in the early days of the Digital Revolution. Will history repeat itself? Is this time different? In general, I believe that these revolutions have brought more opportunity & meaningful improvements in the quality of life for humanity. This gives me optimism about the future as it relates to automation and jobs. 

As it specifically relates to the future of moving & delivery, I think there are a few interesting trends playing out.

First let's look at delivery. Delivery has exploded in growth, between the internet, ecommerce, and specifically Amazon... the way we think about access to physical goods has never been more accessible.

A friend of mine was hosting some friends for dinner the other night, they wanted to do a puzzle, ~60 mins later an Amazon delivery was on their porch with a puzzle. 10 years ago, that would have been nearly incomprehensible.

Until we spend more time deep into VR or perfect 3D printing, I don't see the delivery business slowing down anytime soon. 

As for the moving industry, I think we'll continue to see people flocking to cities. I think we'll see continued rising real estate costs, which will mean fewer homeowners -- more renters. This means more moving, less stuff to move, and smaller square footage for their homes. These trends bode well for anyone in the moving business. 

In the delivery business, we’re seeing the Amazon-ification of traditional retailers.

They’re starting to realize that their customers expect more from them, especially when it comes to delivery. Customers expect deliveries to happen quickly, on time, and done with professionalism. That’s something very hard to scale and something even Amazon is struggling with, but Amazon is relentless on improving it. It’s why we’re seeing them buy airplanes, fund companies that will help them with their logistics, and experiment with gig economy delivery models.

Automation is probably a bigger concern for workers here. Big bulky things will presumably one of the later stage jobs to be replaced, but I suspect consumers will simply leverage labor in a different way. An example of that would be a delivery provider dropping off your item and dispatching local labor to assist with actually getting it within your home.

The opportunity to drive down the price with an automated delivery fleet will outweigh the inconvenience of solving a more dynamic local labor supply. 

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