Meet­ing peo­ple’s need for a more con­ve­nient way of send­ing pack­ages

The Irish Times - Business - - WORLD OF WORK - Stephen O’Sul­li­van founder and owner, Fiona Al­ston was born out of a need Stephen O’Sul­li­van was see­ing in his cos­tumers – a more con­ve­nient and cost-ef­fec­tive way of send­ing pack­ages. Al­ready owner of a lo­gis­tics com­pany in Cork city, O’Sul­li­van started the al­ter­na­tive ship­ping com­pany four years ago with con­sumers and small busi­nesses in mind, pro­vid­ing them with one-off world­wide ship­ping.

What dis­tin­guishes your busi­ness from your com­peti­tors?

It’s the con­ve­nience for the con­sumer and small busi­ness. With a few clicks you could have booked and paid for your par­cel. If it’s go­ing out­side the EU you’ll have com­pleted all your cus­toms doc­u­men­ta­tion. And within five min­utes you can have pro­cessed your par­cel and can have it picked up the next day and de­liv­ered any­where in the world in a cou­ple of days.

What’s been the big­gest chal­lenge you’ve had to face?

The ac­tual pro­mo­tion of the com­pany – the costs in­volved in pro­mot­ing the busi­ness to get our prod­ucts and ser­vices recog­nised by as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. We are only a rel­a­tively new com­pany so we wouldn’t have the bud­get of some of the larger com­pa­nies. We try to do a lot through so­cial me­dia and tar­geted ad­ver­tis­ing on Google AdWords as well.

What’s your ma­jor suc­cess to date?

We did roll out a net­work of lo­cal par­cel shops around the coun­try where peo­ple, if they can’t wait in for the courier, can choose to drop off their parcels to be col­lected. If they are or­der­ing some­thing on­line they can chose to have it de­liv­ered to their lo­cal store if they are out work­ing.

What more could the Gov­ern­ment do to help SMEs?

It would be great if there was more in­for­ma­tion and the fund­ing was more eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. What I have found in the past is that, when we have looked at it, it’s very oner­ous on a small startup to avail of the fund­ing, with the amount of forms and stuff like that that you have to go through. Ease of ac­cess for star­tups I would say.

Do you think that the banks are open for busi­ness?

We’ve been for­tu­nate in a sense that we’ve not had to go to them too of­ten, but when I’ve in­ves­ti­gated it, tested the waters with them, they have al­ways been very open to it. More so than any of the gov­ern­ment av­enues; we’ve found it eas­ier to deal with the banks.

What’s the big­gest mis­take you’ve made in busi­ness?

I’ve mis­spent money on ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns where it didn’t have any ef­fect what­so­ever. It was only af­ter­wards that we re­alised we had al­lo­cated the money into the wrong place. It was just too tar­geted on a spe­cific me­dia out­let but it didn’t have the ef­fect that we would have hoped for, and I re­alise af­ter­wards we were tar­get­ing the wrong mar­ket with that cam­paign.

Whom do you ad­mire in busi­ness and why?

Bobby Kerr. I’ve al­ways ad­mired his tenac­ity be­cause he has come through a lot of ad­ver­sity. I ad­mire the suc­cess he’s had with In­som­nia cof­fee as well. He spoke about mov­ing from point to point, fix­ing cof­fee ma­chines him­self at the start of it.

I al­ways ad­mire some­one who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty and do the job that’s re­quired to make a suc­cess of his busi­ness.

What’s the best piece of busi­ness ad­vice you’ve ever re­ceived?

The one thing I al­ways live by is, don’t ask any­one to do some­thing that you wouldn’t do your­self. When I’m hir­ing staff I would never ex­pect them to do any­thing I wouldn’t do my­self. If you are work­ing with some­one or some­one is work­ing for me, I want them to feel part of the team. I sup­pose I never want to place my­self above any­one else in that re­gard. You have to be able to muck in.

How do you see the short-term fu­ture of your busi­ness?

We’ve had a good year this year, so next year we want to con­tinue the ex­pan­sion of the ParcelDirect lo­cal net­work to give peo­ple more ac­cess to the lo­cal stores for col­lec­tion and drop-off points. We just want to see the com­pany grow in line with the growth that we’ve had this year, and to make more peo­ple aware of our ser­vice through­out the coun­try.

What’s your busi­ness worth, and would you sell it.

I hon­estly haven’t had it val­ued so I don’t know. Would I sell it? If the right of­fer came along, I’d al­ways con­sider it.

‘‘ It’s very oner­ous on a small startup to avail of the fund­ing, with the amount of forms and stuff like that that you have to go through

Stephen O’Sul­li­van: ‘The one thing I al­ways live by is, don’t ■ ask any­one to do some­thing that you wouldn’t do your­self.’

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