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ACE News

The New Logic of Logistics

Inspired by the sharing economy, logistics startup Park N Parcel matchmakes demand and supply by turning neighbours into parcel delivery and collection points for busy online shoppers. Co-founder Erik Cheong explains. 

A logistics company may bring to mind fleets of vehicles, large warehouses and extensive distribution channels but when Bryan See Toh, Tan Gan Hong and Erik Cheong ventured into the industry, they had their sights set on an asset-light, service-oriented business.

They founded Park N Parcel, a startup that turns your neighbour’s home and retail shops into parcel pick-up locations for online shoppers.

“The idea behind Park N Parcel came from a personal pain point,” shared co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Erik. “All three of us are avid online shoppers but we are hardly ever at home to receive our parcels. My girlfriend, on the other hand, never missed a delivery because she routed all her shopping to her auntie’s place. Park N Parcel was borne from the idea of giving everyone an ‘auntie’ to receive and hold their parcels until they could collect it at a convenient time.”

In the Park N Parcel community, these “aunties” have become “Parkers” — homemakers, retirees, students, retail business owners and just about anyone who can commit to being around to receive parcels. And with over 1,000 of them to date and counting, the startup is confident that there’s a Parker no further than 1km away from you.

“From the time we incorporated Park N Parcel in April 2016 to our market launch in January 2017, we focused all our efforts on validating, prototyping and testbedding the idea. Given our market research, we were confident that Park N Parcel would take off but even we were surprised to receive 4,000 Parker applications within eight months of launching,” said Erik, adding that only a quarter of these applicants eventually made it through their stringent assessment.

“We believe that our network is our net worth so as a service promise to our users, we curate our Parkers. We hold a copy of their identification in our records, conduct phone interviews and send a test parcel to them to assess that they are qualified and committed to being a Parker,” he revealed.

For each successful transaction, Parkers receive $1 from the $2.50 service fee that users pay. The startup’s early detractors (of which there were many, says Erik) dismissed the $1 fee as too small to incentivise people but Park N Parcel continues to receive 30 to 50 new applications a day. Now, the goal is to reach 2,000 Parkers by the end of the year, after which the co-founders hope to bring the service to other mature, high-density cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo and London.

“We faced a lot of scepticism in the beginning. People around us doubted that our business model would work. If we had listened to them instead of the market, Park N Parcel would never have happened,” said Erik. Rather than allow themselves to be swayed by naysayers, the startup’s founders looked for advice through the ACE Mentorship Programme. They learnt about the initiative, which pairs entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders, from other startups.

“We were mentored by Miles Gilman, Managing Director of Sultan River Holdings and a serial entrepreneur with a wealth of experience and an arsenal of knowledge. He gave us plenty of valuable advice on how to pitch to investors. With his guidance, we successfully raised a seed round from angel investors,” said Erik.

“The programme is great and I would recommend other young entrepreneurs to give it a shot. To get the most of the experience, I think it’s important be objective when asking questions and seize every opportunity to learn from your mentor. At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is about taking action. I’ve met many smart people with really great ideas but if you don’t execute them, if you don’t test them out, then ideas will just remain ideas.”

Learn more about Park N Parcel at www.parknparcel.com.sg/.


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