As we outlined in part one of our exposé on Australia’s next green superstars yesterday, the concept of clean tech is increasingly stretching across different industries.
Rather than large-scale wind farms or solar panels, start-ups are finding that the concept of sustainability is applying to smaller, leaner and cheaper businesses.
Yesterday, we showed how the humble postie bike is being transformed into essential electrical transport for urbanites, as well as how the idea of sharing products rather than buying them has created a business opportunity.
Today, we profile two other start-ups in the inaugural Ignition Labs accelerator – a new project aimed at identifying and supporting the most promising clean tech ventures in Australia.
Concept: Load and maximise empty space to transport goods and save money.
What gave you the idea for the business?
I was moving back to Australia from the UK in March last year and I needed some stuff moved. The process was so hard and I thought there must be an easier way of doing it online, rather than phoning around countless different businesses.
I come from regional Australia, so I think that moving items shouldn’t be about the location. You should be able to transport things quickly and easily. So I came up with the idea of LoadMax.
So how does it work?
It’s an online marketplace for transport providers and people who want stuff moved. Jobs are logged online and if a transport provider is going to the same location and has space in their truck, they provide a quote for the job.
This provides customers with a lower cost option for moving large items and it makes trips more economical for transport providers.
Customers can choose providers based on the quotes but also their rating – if other people haven’t reviewed them and they don’t show a proper price, then they are less likely to get the job.
Basically, the more that the transport provider earns, the less I earn. My commission is 9.9% for jobs worth up to $150, with quotes over $300 having a commission of 5.5%.
I’ve got this tiered system as I don’t want the providers to undercut themselves. The site is aimed at moving big, heavy things such as cars, furniture and boats. We’re not so good with parcels, so we encourage the providers to take on the bigger items.
Why go with you and not another removal company?
The rates are very competitive and if you don’t have an arrangement with a provider already, you can easily check out their rating on the site.
For the providers, it’s a real win-win. It utilises spare capacity and eliminates wasted journeys. If you’re driving a long distance to deliver something in, say, Sydney, you’ll use up a lot of time and petrol driving back with nothing in your truck. This idea helps you make money from this situation.
If you run 20-plus trucks it may not be for you, but for the SME, it’s perfect. The majority of the transport industry is small businesses and they are very online savvy. You’d be surprised.
This business is a big change to what you were doing before, isn’t it?
Yes, I was a studying as a drama teacher and then had a software company. I was basically an IT person.
I had to scope out the whole industry as it was completely new to me, but I saw that there was a clean gap in the market and I knew how to launch the technology.
I did a lot of research, digging into IBIS World reports, and looked at a similar concept in the UK, which grew 50% year-on-year.
It’s very exciting to work on a very simple idea that people instantly get. It’s basically an eBay for shipping.
We get new customers each day. We’re up to around 5,000 customers and have 200 transport providers on board.
I do an ABN search with the providers to make sure there aren’t any issues with them and I worked with some top eBay sellers who explained how they go about things.
How is Ignition Labs going to help you out?
At this stage, there is no carbon tax for transport, but I wanted to show that this is a great sustainable solution for the industry.
Ignition Labs has great expertise and provide you with some useful leads. They understand online markets and the trip to the US will be really useful too. They help create efficiency without the fluff.
It’s especially helpful being in an incubator as a sole founder.
What does the future hold for LoadMax?
We want to tweak the model a bit to appeal to the B2B market and then it would be fantastic to expand internationally. But first we want to grow domestically, not just providing the green stamp. I want to help businesses be sustainable, as well as the environment.