The founders of Carryr and Unlimitech discuss the challenges they experienced as a first-time founder.
What were you doing prior to starting up your venture?
Before starting up Unlimitech I worked in asset management in the mining industry in Peru, following that I joined the MBA programme at Cambridge Judge. The MBA is often a time for experimenting broadly, for trying out different industries and roles. I used my MBA to immerse myself into the Cambridge startup ecosystem and in trying out different venture opportunities.
In my teens, I started out in the music production and audio engineering industry. To subsidise this expensive hobby I worked in retail, which later led me to take on management roles and drove me to challenge myself in sales. Whilst I was working, I started up a short-lived B2B same day courier company, which I loved, but I wanted to make such a service accessible to consumers. All of the dots eventually lined up to bring me to the idea of Carryr.
As an early-stage startup, name three of the hardest challenges you have faced?
The hardest thing is to summarise a list!
Jokes aside, my first would be getting the right key people to join at the earliest stages. Building a team that works well together, aligns to commitment, and have the skills required to deliver is one of the hardest parts of building a venture.
The fundraising process is also challenging as a first-time founder. Currently, we’re navigating through this process at Unlimitech.
There are other typical challenges for a startup which revolve around customer and product development activities, but the most important challenges you face will be unique to your venture. Surround yourself with experienced people who will contribute to helping you go further!
Similar to Daniel, my biggest challenge was finding a co-founder who really believed in what we were doing and had the skills to shape and execute the product vision. It is also very important that you get along with co-founders beforehand, so I’m extremely lucky in this respect.
When you have a fulltime job you have a lot of resources available to you, in a startup you don’t. We’ve, very quickly, learned how to be resourceful by being creative as you haven’t got a lot of resources behind you as a startup.
Another challenge is to remain focused on the product, customers and how the day-to-day operations fit into the big vision — it’s very easy to get distracted by exterior forces or “soft metrics”.
What is your purpose behind your startup?
It’s hard to overcome the challenges of building a venture without a strong purpose motivating your journey, whatever that purpose may be. Before starting my entrepreneurial career, I devoted the time to think seriously about this. My advice is: don’t make it all about the money.
On a related note, I was recently listening to a podcast with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He mentioned that he felt a responsibility towards all the people who were curious about the Cosmos and the Universe. That was the major driver that kept him going despite the increasing difficulty in keeping up with his career. This demonstrated that someone even as successful as him, also needs this kind of motivation.
You’ve got to believe that what you’re working on will affect people’s lives for the better and it will make people happier. For me, I felt like I had to develop something that both e-commerce retailers and consumers need – otherwise it wouldn’t come to fruition. I also love to be stimulated by solving complex problems.
How have you benefited from Accelerate Cambridge so far?
The great thing about being on Accelerate Cambridge is that you’re surrounded by a network of people who are in the same position as you. I have learned how to take advice that fits our vision and ethos. I can bounce ideas off my peers and get feedback instantly based on their experiences. The backing of the Cambridge Judge Business School programme, Accelerate, further validates the potential of Carryr and the team. This gives us a reputation boost when speaking with customers and investors.
Most recently, Accelerate Cambridge has made it easier for us to connect with the iconic Cambridge Satchel Company. Our coaches, Shiri Gold and Sheila Kissane-Marshall, have both continued to show enthusiasm from the first day we pitched Carryr – which has given us a lot of encouragement.
The advice from the coaches is fantastic and at the end of the day you are making the choice whether to take the advice on board. Try not to dismiss advice unless you give it a shot first. Also, the space and community here have had a big positive impact on both the company and myself.
I would fail to quantify the value of the help we have received from the mentors. They have been there to lend an ear to the challenges as often as they have challenged us to help us improve as entrepreneurs.
What are your plans for your venture in the next two years?
First, to conclude the current fundraising for Unlimitech, for which we’ve experienced good traction so far. Afterwards, all of our focus goes to finalising the development of our Smartmask™ fitness tracker. Then it will be to put it in the hands (or faces) of sportspeople who care about optimising performance and nutrition.
We want to be partnered up with the most exciting fashion retailers, operating in the most dynamic cities. We would like consumers to actively seek out fashion retailers that support the Carryr delivery option – much like how consumers have a preference to pay with PayPal. Carryr will be the number one choice when it comes to the delivery experience due to our simplicity, speed and flexibility.
Daniel Morales Valdivia is a BEng in Business Engineering and a University of Cambridge MBA with five years’ experience in management, advisory and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is leading Unlimitech: a Cambridge-based start-up developing the Smartmask™, a wearable fitness tracker that helps sportspeople to optimise performance. Daniel is also working on Unlimitech’s innovations through our EnterpriseTECH programme and is supported by Accelerate Cambridge.
Chris Jordan is the Co-Founder of Carryr. They’re on a mission to supercharge the end-to-end delivery experience for fashion e-commerce. Carryr have just launched with The Cambridge Satchel Company for their Cambridge-based customers, meaning that they can select the Carryr delivery option and schedule the delivery in as little as an hour after placing an order or at a timeslot that suits.
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