Entrepreneurs

The Uber for removalists: How this founder is shaking up a “boring and backwards” $2 billion industry

Dominic Powell /

Movepal

Movepal founder Peter Borain. Source: Supplied.

Though he’s worked in it for more than 16 years, Peter Borain readily admits the moving and removalists industry is “backwards, boring” and all-round ripe for disruption.

So after setting up numerous depots and buying trucks for his previous moving business, Borain felt there had to be a better way to do things, and with the help of a few developers, brewed up the idea for Movepal.

“We wanted to build a platform that was easier for drivers and customers to use, as many drivers in the industry have a difficult time. Jobs are patchy, hours are long, so we wanted to give them a platform which provides both flexibility and the opportunity to earn more,” Borain tells SmartCompany.

Pitched as the ‘Uber for moving’, Movepal has recently launched in Melbourne and provides customers with an on-demand way to move anything from an Ikea couch to an entire house.

Customers upload pictures of what they’re wanting to move to the app, and the service matches the job to a driver, who can then be contacted and tracked during the process. Payments are all automated through the platform, with drivers often charging per minute.

“It’s very similar to the way Uber works, the customer can manage and oversee the whole process from start to finish,” he says.

Despite being recently launched, Movepal has already onboarded 100 drivers, and Borain predicts many independent moving businesses will likely join the platform as a way to ensure more consistent business.

“There are 8,000 moving companies in Australia, but outside the bigger players, most of those are one- or two-truck businesses. And while they have a truck and are business-capable, they often don’t have access to a marketing and job management system, so that’s where we can help them,” he says.

“It’s a $2 billion industry annually, but we’re focused on the 90% of the market who are those smaller players.”

The onboarding process isn’t as easy as filling in a form on an app. The company screens every applicant to assess if they’re the right candidates, and once accepted. the drivers bring their vehicles into a local depot so Movepal can check both the truck and the driver’s condition.

Then, once insurance is checked, drivers are onboarded onto the app. Borain says the app tries to best match drivers to jobs, and can even match two different drivers to the same job if the app determines it will need more than one worker.

For now, Borain says Movepal is the only company of its type disrupting the moving industry in Australia, with other players such as Lugg and Dolly seeing success in international markets. While Movepal has a decent number of drivers onboard, the company hasn’t started pushing its services onto customers just yet.

“It’s taken us a year and a half to build the app, which is essentially three platforms, for the customer, driver and admin panel. We’ve been so focused on onboarding and launching in Melbourne that we haven’t really opened up to the public yet,” he says.

“We plan to do that in mid-May, with our target market being people who are just moving one or two things around, like a student who’s bought a couch at Ikea but doesn’t want to use the expensive Ikea service.”

The company is also in the midst of raising $2 million in capital to help the app expand, with the eventual goal of being up and running in every state and territory.

“We want to expand all across Australia, and unlike usual moving businesses which are hard to scale, we can expand quite quickly. After Australia, it’s New Zealand, then the UK, because this model could be quite successful in those markets.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany. Email him at [email protected].

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