I really enjoy chatting to different individuals within the tech industry and I am so fascinated in what they have to say and how they got to where they are now.
Marshall has a very interesting business and it inspired me to write about him. I am really enjoying these “on demand” services that are on offer like Uber, Airtasker, Airbnb and so on.
Here is what Marshall had to say…
Where did the idea of Passel come from?
I have worked in freight for 20 years. One of the most significant changes has been the explosion in home deliveries and one of my biggest frustrations was the courier industry’s inability to come up with a cost-effective solution that is convenient for the receiver.
During a casual discussion with a friend a few years ago, I said “The day will come when you will be walking around the shopping centre and your phone will let you know that Mrs Jones, who lives around the corner from you, has just ordered a rake. If you deliver on your way home, we’ll pay you $10.”
Well, it still hasn’t happened so I thought I might as well do it myself!
Was it scary leaving a full-time job to start your own business?
I left my job to start another business – Email Handyman – which is a corporate email training company. It wasn’t scary at all as this was a safe business! However, I thought I’d work on a startup on the side and enrolled in the Founder Institute.
I soon found that my real passion was fixing online home deliveries!
Please, can you explain how Passel operates?
Passel has “Delivery Members”. These are regular people who either visit shopping centres or work in or near shopping centres. Delivery Members are not couriers or even people who want to make some money on the side from delivering part-time. They are simply people who have registered for the opportunity to make an extra $10 every now on then, on the way home.
Online shoppers choose “same day delivery” from the site they are shopping. The retailer then picks the order in the nearest store to the delivery address. Passel then identifies the Delivery Member who is closest to both the pickup and delivery points and offers the job to them. Assuming they accept, the Delivery Member picks the item up and delivers it on their way home.
Are Australian’s quite responsive to collecting parcels to make some extra money?
Market research we conducted suggested that up to 80% of people would be happy to deliver a small item on their way home from the shops in exchange for a $10 gift voucher. We are currently recruiting for the pilot program in Frankston, Victoria and we are very happy with the sign-up rate.
What are your thoughts on the contingent work force like Passel, do you believe this is the way of the future?
I believe there is a considerable amount of wastage and excess capacity in our society and that businesses like Passel can make use of this capacity. The ability for people to make a few extra dollars in exchange for a tiny task or inconvenience is already proving to be quite popular with companies such as Airbnb and Spacer which is also assisting in filling those gaps.
I don’t think contingent work will be people’s main income, due to the very nature of the contingent demand. However, I do believe there will be more and more opportunity for people to supplement their income with a few bonus jobs or tasks on the side. Also, for people already employed full time in a role, such as a professional courier, services such as Sherpa will allow them to top up their income when their primary employer experiences a drop in demand.
What was your strategy in developing the software?
We have adopted a conservative approach to software development and are refining the operational model first and keeping the software as basic as possible. Once we have established what the software needs to do and what the requirements of our customers are on a day to day basis, we’ll begin to develop the front end interfaces for customers, delivery members and receivers.
Are you going to be using your own services for someone to bring you home your latest purchase from JB Hifi?
I can think of many occasions in the past when I would have ordered something online but didn’t because I wasn’t prepared to wait 5-7 days for it to turn up. I think Passel will make it more likely to purchase things online. If for example, I forget a birthday, I’ll be able to place an order on Friday evening and have the item within a few hours!
Do you believe Passel will increase retail sales?
Yes. Worldwide online shopping cart abandonment averages 70%. This means that 7 out of every ten people who make it to the checkout decide not to go through with their purchase. Freight is a significant factor in that decision. If someone is making an impulse purchase and is then told that, not only will they have to pay $9.95 for delivery, but that they might not see their order for a week, you can see why they might not buy.
Are you a cat or a dog person? Why?
Cat. I love cats. I respect the disdain with which they treat their human staff. I’m pretty lucky in that our cat, Ledger, is pretty active when he wants to be and is happy to chase and be chased around the house. Cats are also neat. I like neat.
What would you typically be caught wearing at a fancy dress party?
Darth Vader. If my daughter is going, we’ll dress her up as Princess Leia.
Well let the force be with you Marshall!
I am super excited to be seeing your journey via social media and I am here to support you as well. I am feeling a little worried that my apartment might be flooded with excessive amounts of shopping bags because I am enjoying the Passel capability. (We can chat about this later…)
Keep on keepin’ on,