Despite operating on a global scale, Sydney-based business mmMule only spent a few hundred dollars in order to start up, excluding legal costs.
mmMule allows people to get anything they want from anywhere in the world, rewarding each “mule” – typically travellers – with a local experience in return for making a delivery.
Earlier this year, the business copped a bit of flak from tech start-up blog Tech Crunch, but that hasn’t stopped it from hurtling forward with some ambitious plans.
Co-founder Avis Mulhall talks to StartupSmart about how three travellers came together to launch a business, and why money should never be your motivating factor.
When was the business founded? Who are the founders and where is the business based?
We went live at the end of January 2012. The founders are Andrew Simpson as well as Alan Mulhall and I.
Andrew is an Australian who spent almost six years living in NYC – he recently returned to Sydney.
Both Alan and I are Irish. However, Alan has lived in LA for over 12 years and I moved to Sydney just over a year ago after a stint in Africa.
The business is based in Sydney and Alan works remotely, but we’re aiming to get him over here soon.
What prompted you to launch mmMule? What niche did you identify?
We’re all expats and seasoned travelers. We often found ourselves either missing treats from back home or wanting stuff we came across on our travels that we just couldn’t find where we lived.
We realised it was a common problem as we kept seeing posts on Facebook from friends of all different nationalities who wanted stuff – like food, cosmetics and electronics – that they couldn’t get shipped to where they lived.
To solve the delivery problem, we drew upon our extensive travel experiences.
Having visited more than 65 countries between us, we knew that it was always hard arriving in a new city not knowing anyone.
We also knew that we always had the most fun when we had a local connection. That way, you don’t feel like a tourist and you actually get to experience a place like the locals who live there.
So we thought that if we could connect locals who want stuff with travelers who want more authentic experiences, we could solve a real problem for both, and that’s how mmMule was born.
As for AngelMule [mmMule’s non-profit subsidiary], this originated from a trip to Africa, where Andrew and I first met.
Whilst living in the rainforests of northern Tanzania and teaching kids, I saw how much the project suffered due to a lack of resources.
Around the same time, Andrew stumbled on an orphanage in Rwanda for kids whose parents had been killed in the genocide.
After talking to the kids and hearing their stories, he wanted to help.
As it turns out, it was as easy as going to the next village and buying some books, pencils and a football.
Such a small thing made such a big impact on the kids, and made him feel great too. We want other travelers to be able to feel that.
So now, with AngelMule, we’re making it easy and transparent for people to connect with and help non-profits in the countries they visit by delivering supplies to projects in need.
How did you fund the business?
We’re entirely self-funded, but because we have such a well-rounded team – Alan on development, Andrew on design and strategy, and myself on marketing and PR – our costs have been minimal.
Aside from the actual legal costs of setting up the company, we’ve only spent a few hundred dollars.