Written on the 2 June 2017 by David Simmons

THE 'Uber for errands' app has arrived in Brisbane this week with the launch of GoFetch.

The app, which launched in Melbourne joins the host of peer-to-peer convenience based tools like Uber, Airtasker, and Deliveroo already available to make lives easier and cheaper with the press of a button.

Founder and Managing Director, Blair Smith, says the model and on-demand network of self-employed "fetchers" hands control of personal logistics back into the paws of individuals.

"GoFetch is a cheaper, faster, easier and a friendlier delivery service," says Smith.

GoFetch matches the fetcher with a job at a competitive rate, and the fetcher walks, rides, catches public transport, or drives to make the delivery.

Already 80 fetchers have already signed up in Brisbane, and corporate partners of the app include IGA, local florists, and even chemists.

The service is available both on an iPhone or via the more business-friendly website.

Like its inspiration, Uber, which has disrupted the taxi industry, GoFetch is looking to disrupt traditional courier services with plans to launch more intensive and larger deliveries in the future.

Business News Australia spoke with Blair Smith about how GoFetch came into existence, the company's plans for going public, and the how the app is set to disrupt the courier industry.

What inspired you to start GoFetch and what gaps in the market did you see?

Plainly, a selfish decision really. I was single at the time and working long hours in the city. And by the time I got back home everything was shut.

So, what I wanted to do was launch loyalty program for St Kilda where I live, where if you can prove that you're a local then your butcher, your baker, your florist, your drycleaner, might give you a local's discount with free delivery.

So, I originally had that idea it was called Concierge 2182. And I was going to franchise that and have Concierge 3184, 3186 etc. And this was back in the late noughts and there were no apps really to speak of.

Then I was on holiday in Bali and I actually thought about this whole model into an app where you just have pickup and drop off and a number of people could bid for the work.

So, apps started to enter the market with things like Airtasker, and a few of those US apps around peer to peer labour sharing and I thought if I could turn my delivery idea into an app and have communication at the heart of it where you could talk to your fetcher, your fetcher could talk to us, we could talk to the customer, then that would be a really good way of controlling expectations as well as meaning that I didn't have to get a fleet of trucks with drivers.

Obviously with things like Uber and ride sharing and Airtasker and quite a few other odd job apps I thought it'd be great to tap into a network of pre-approved delivery people using their own transport. So, it morphed a few times before it saw the light of day.

How did you get started & what challenges did you face starting up?

In short, I was in corporate and my background's always been in the city working for companies in senior marketing roles. I was working for a big privately owned property developer, and one of their divisions invested in a bunch of start-ups.

I actually sat down with the guys and said 'I've actually got an idea that I've wanted to do as well' and they asked me to come and present it, and I ended up having my main job as group marketing manager but then on the side was working on my idea because they really liked it.

Before I knew it, they'd found me an app developer and some major investment money. We raised 200k very quickly and got the name registered and the website up, and then started building the iPhone code.

So, it all just happened quite quickly and almost accidentally, where I had to make a choice at the six month mark do I sell this idea off and let somebody else run us, or do I quit my day job and have a crack at running it myself, and I chose the latter.

What are the company's plans for expansion?

We want to be national by next year. Being digital there's very low barriers to entry, so we can even go overseas.

We've got the international trademarks for GoFetch. We're actually looking not only at the major capitals in Australia but also at satellite cities we want Gold Coast and Noosa for Brisbane, we want Wollongong and Newcastle for Sydney, and Geelong and Frankston for Melbourne to really open up those satellite cities and I'd love to be in Singapore and Hong Kong very soon.

Why Brisbane for the first expansion opposed to Sydney?

I've got a competitor who started in Sydney, and they went Sydney and then Melbourne.

But Brisbane has been a bit neglected by them, so I kind of saw this as a gap in the market.

Brisbane's been unrepresented by some of these delivery apps and I just thought it'd be a very good place to cut through and might seem like a more original idea.

Are there different barriers to take into account when entering into new cities or is it a model that can fit over a new city quite instantly?

It does actually, we've actually got a strategy called 'follow the customer'. In Melbourne we've picked up quite a few business customers, so we've got Reece Plumbing, and a lot of florists, we've got IGA supermarkets, so a lot of them are national, so instead of having to start from scratch a lot of our customers are letting us tap into their network straight away.

In Brisbane for example, Amcal chemists does quite a few jobs for us, and that was from the Melbourne contact, and we've gone into Brisbane having a little bit of demand already.

Do you find it difficult to compete with established and traditional courier services?

We're not even competing. With us you can order anything. You can order a burger at 7 in the morning or 2 in the morning, or things like "I left my earphones at the gym". Or my husband's left his keys at home.

They're actually new markets. New scenarios. No traditional courier has ever done those. In effect, we're kind of creating a new market for those very personal deliveries.

But to your question, we are competing head on with couriers in the corporate sectors. We've got Minter Ellison lawyers, quite a few corporate offices, accounting firms, those guys absolutely have a choice to use a dispatch courier or us.

I think like the taxi industry had it very good for a long time. I think the courier industry might be a little bit complacent too. In that the service levels aren't that flash. There's no technology association. There's minimum jobs. There's flat rates.

With us they've got no lock in contracts at all you can order as many or as few fetches as you want. Our price point is unbelievably cheap its $8 a fetch and $1.50 per kilometre and you're also getting a well presented fetcher.

Do you hope one day to be able to take GoFetch public or will it remain a privately-owned business?

We're absolutely open for an IPO. We're only a year and a half old, so I guess at the moment we're in scale stage where the apps are working, they're bug free. And our demand is increasing so we're scaling now.

What are some tips you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to make it big in the online app space?

I think my cautionary tale would be try to see the forest from the trees from the start. And really plan your financing around you not getting involved in the day to day operations. Being the person who stays a little bit above the day to day. I found that very hard to do in the early days but we're sort of getting there now.

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Author: David Simmons





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