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Startups cheating death: 4 scary lessons from Velocity founders

Starting a business can be both exciting and terrifying (did you know that they are similar emotions?), but with Velocity, companies don’t have to do it alone! In the spirit of Halloween, four awesome companies are sharing some scary startup stories about how they were able to “cheat death” and succeed.

  1. Relax, it’s Envoi: wait… just how many packages?

package

Velocity company Envoi provides same day delivery for ecommerce and retail stores, right to your doorstep in a matter of hours. Because no one deserves to be kept waiting. Amazing right? Well, customers thought it was amazing too. Business started growing faster than Envoi could keep up with! They were expecting to get around 25 packages a day and hired drivers accordingly. On the first day of business, Envoi had 57 packages to deliver. A bit more than 25, but still manageable. On the second day, the startup delivered 81. On the third day, it had to deliver 377 packages!

“Somehow, we pulled it off. I still don’t know how,” said Maarij Rehman, CEO of Envoi. Rehman recalled a lot of scrambling, quick thinking, and hard work to find and pay drivers without going under, but the drivers were able to deliver every single package. Today, Envoi continues to serve and please customers daily. If Rehman can offer any advice to future Velocity companies, he would like to encourage others to remember that cash flow is more important than making a profit!

Scary Lesson #1: You can outhustle and outwit a near death startup experience. Don’t be scared of your customers.

Don’t want to be kept waiting for your deliveries? Check out what Envoi has to offer!

 

  1. Scaling while short: ShiftRide into overdrive

 IMGP5064 - Nima Tahami (1)

Nima Tahami, Co-Founder and CEO of Velocity company ShiftRide shares that the scariest moment for them was hands down losing two co-founders, one after the other, last summer. They wanted to explore new opportunities, despite a high growth and good traction that they helped build in the short amount of time. Going through this challenge meant simultaneously re-organizing the team and finding more people who are passionate about the problem ShiftRide is solving: allow people to book and drive affordable cars on demand. They were able to overcome this challenge by working closely with Velocity advisors to find a path to sustaining the startup before scaling it.

Want to join the ShiftRide team? They are currently looking for tech positions both in backend (Python) and frontend (React). Find out more on their website. You can find them on Instagram @shiftrideapp.

Scary Lesson #2: Your startup could regrow limbs while it’s running. Who knew?  

If you haven’t tried ShiftRide yet, sign up and use the code VELOCITY20 to get $20 off your first booking!

 

  1. Security over safety: Reanimating a BufferBox parcel kiosk

Copy of BufferBox

BufferBox leveraged parcel kiosks to provide consumers the convenience of picking up their online purchases 24/7, making missed delivery notices a thing of the past. Each state-of-the-art parcel kiosk had a security monitoring system to ensure that consumers could only pick up packages that belong to them.

It was a “daaark” and “storrrmy” night when then Co-Founder of Velocity company BufferBox, Jay Shah (now Director of Velocity) got wind that the security monitoring system on their company’s state of the art parcel kiosk had gone down in Toronto’s Union Station, the startup’s very first kiosk deployment in 2012.

Thinking about the agony that BufferBox customers could face if they tried to pick up a delivery from a malfunctioning kiosk, there was nothing that would stop the BufferBox team from rushing to Toronto and solving the problem. The team rushed down to Union Station amidst howling winds and heavy rains, ignoring the advisory’s suggestion to stay inside for safety reasons. The team fixed the problem, but they ended up stranded in Union Station as they needed to wait out the storm.

Scary Lesson #3: Your startup baby can grow up faster than you realize. Don’t miss a thing!   

BufferBox was sold to Google in 2012. Yep, the turnaround was that quick.

 

  1. Throw caution to the farm: IntelliCulture

IntelliCulture_FirstInstall - IntelliCulture (1)

Cole Powers, Co-Founder of Velocity company IntelliCulture, shares how scary, but incredibly rewarding a quickly growing business can be, even as an early-stage startup.

“When we started our journey as IntelliCulture about 6 months ago, we severely underestimated ourselves, and quite honestly didn’t take ourselves seriously enough. We had a rough concept of it and thought it would be cool to work together on our own project,” said Powers.  The IntelliCulture team never thought they would make it beyond the project stage. Truth to be told, they applied to local pitch competitions only on a whim. However, not only did they end up qualifying, they moved finals and managed to secure some funding at Velocity Funds Finals in July 2018.

“The really scary thing is since that pivotal moment we haven’t even looked back. We didn’t have any concrete plans for starting a business, and all of the sudden, we are now 6 months in, running pilot programs, pitching in all sorts of competitions, and interviewing more farmers every day,” said Powers. “The other day we even started talking about the idea of growing our team, and are having serious conversations about what comes after school. In my mind nothing is scarier than that – in a matter of 6 months, genuinely discussing completely uprooting your career plans. How do we get through it? Well, its captured in the photo from our first install (unfortunately missing one of our founders), but the key is lots of caffeine, stress, and having an absolute blast building your own company!”

Scary Lesson #4: Sometimes you just need to breathe and let go! That’s the startup career plan.   

To keep up with IntelliCulture’s  journey, follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Do you have a scary startup story that you want to share? Email us at velocity.marketing@uwaterloo.ca

 

 

 

 

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