“Data talks, bullshit walks”: How GetSwift raised $24 million from US investors


GetSwift's Joel MacDonald and Bane Hunter. Source: Supplied

Ex-AFL star Joel Macdonald’s tech startup GetSwift has raised $24 million from top-tier US institutions Horney, IFM and Regal.

The major raise comes six months after the Melbourne-founded delivery management software listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, raising $5 million. Since then, GetSwift’s initial 20c listing price has increased to 98c per share.

According to Macdonald, GetSwift was “almost forced to take money” because “demand was really outstripping supply”.

“We have an abundance of opportunities here and that’s really been fast tracked since we went IPO,” he says.

Macdonald and GetSwift executive chairman Bane Hunter realised they had an “agnostic platform” after receiving demand for their software from unexpected sources.

“Fascinatingly enough there were these additional verticals that we hadn’t expected but which manifested,” Hunter tells StartupSmart.

The software, which claims it can “dispatch like Uber, track like Dominos, set routes like FedEx” has amassed a diverse spread of customers across the medical, hospitality, florist, e-commerce and pharmaceutical fields. It counts the Commonwealth Bank, Mitre Ten, Lion Nathan, and Philip Morris International among its key users.

Hunter believes the company is now “in a position to embrace any opportunity.”

Tips for securing US investment

Hunter has a clear message for all startup founders seeking US investment:

“Data talks, bullshit walks,” he says. 

He advises founders to “be conservative and over deliver” when speaking to investors, because “everything you say is going to be recorded and measured”.

“When you come back 6-12 months later everything can and will be used against you when you raise,” Hunter says.  

He also notes that understanding the US market and startup ecosystem, and being proactive, is key to achieving investment success.

“You need to understand how to navigate the waters you’ll be in,” he says. 

“It’s not enough to drink the Kool-Aid …things won’t land in your lap.” 

Stick to the game plan

For Macdonald, his past career playing professional football with the Brisbane Lions and the Melbourne Football Club has instilled in him the importance of “surrounding yourself with a great team” and “executing a business strategy like a game plan” when growing your company.

“Football’s a two-hour game and business is a 24-hour game — the scoreboard is your revenue,” Macdonald says.

“You’re only as good as your team.”

What’s next

In February this year, GetSwift revealed it had reached the milestone of having powered 1 million deliveries through its software, and according to the company, the volume of deliveries it facilitated grew ten-fold between March 2016-2017. It’s hoping to double or triple that growth rate between 2018-2024.

The team is currently spread between Melbourne and New York, with Macdonald relocating to the Big Apple to expand GetSwift’s offerings in the US, where it is taking the fight to industry heavyweights like Amazon and FedEx. 

“We’re offering an alternative to captive tier one’s of the world — they’re keeping your data and your brand and taking a huge market cut,” he says.  

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