Daniel Lipinksi of Parcelbright – a man who found a place in an existing market to offer something faster, cheaper and still profitable…

Daniel Lipinksi has always had a passion for helping small businesses – but how could he turn this passion into a profitable business? Could he offer something to an existing market that not only offered first-class customer service but was faster and cheaper than its competitors – and still make a profit? He could – and he did. We spoke to him to find out more.

*Update: In February 2016, ParcelBright was acquired by Veeqo

Tell me a bit more about your business and what it offers. How long have you been around and what makes you passionate about the business?

I’m CEO of ParcelBright, which provides a one-stop parcel delivery solution for businesses of all sizes. We tailor rates according to the size and requirements of each of our customers, using cutting-edge technology to help businesses sending anywhere from twenty to thousands of parcels a week.

We’re pleased to have some large high-street chains as customers, as well as many independent e-commerce stores for whom we provide end-to-end logistics via our products, ParcelBright.com and ParcelBright Despatch. We also offer ParcelBright Shipping API for larger businesses requiring a bespoke solution.

ParcelBright has been operational for over a year now, and was built using lean methodology. Hopefully that means our product is not only useful, but devoid of any unnecessary features – customer validation all the way!

The business was created out of my devotion to helping smaller businesses and learning about how they operate. Having the opportunity to speak to hundreds of SMEs on a daily basis gives me a real insight into different business models, and how they are going about forging a path. It’s a great feeling when you help someone to improve their business and become more competitive.

Parcel Bright

And your background? How did you end up running your own business?

I studied Business Commerce at the University of Birmingham, and went on to do a Masters in Property Valuation and Law. The original plan was to become a chartered surveyor, but it soon became apparent that the property life wasn’t for me. Luckily, I found myself a sales position at a VC-backed startup where I learnt the ropes of how to execute a new business idea. Later, that startup sold to TimeOut and I was head hunted to set up the new Groupon Goods division, which is now the largest revenue stream of the company. This is where I gained a passion for helping small businesses and meeting the needs of the owners.

I’ve always had a desire to run my own company, and having had the experience of seeing execution done well, I was hired as an entrepreneur in residence for Forward Labs. They take on individuals with proven backgrounds and supply them with a pot of money to validate new ideas to disrupt existing market places. After a number of months of testing ideas, ParcelBright was born. 6 months later we closed our second large VC round and expanded the team to 8.

Tell me a bit more about your family background. Where there any major influences that set you on this path?

My family is originally from South Africa, but we moved to London when I was young. My dad has always been an entrepreneur, running restaurants and hotels, so there was never a time when we weren’t pushing forward with a new idea.

Do you have a business partner? Any interesting stories there?

Yes I do! Carlos Vilhena is co-founder and CTO of ParcelBright. We met whilst at Forward Labs, working closely on various business ideas, ensuring we had customer validation at each stage of development. He has incredible tech skills with a background working at a number of well established startups and incubators. Carlos’ passion for the product is unbelievable, and he is the best problem solver I’ve seen.

ParcelBright Daniel & Carlos

So how did you get the idea for this business? Tell us your story.

When I joined Forward Labs, my goal was to test various market places and develop minimum viable products in each, to see what stuck. Other ideas at the time included disrupting the automotive repair market with mechanics that came to your home, and a comparison engine for e-learning courses – the minimum viable products for both failed spectacularly.

We then looked at how broken the logistics market was and interviewed lots of developers to see how they went about courier integrations for their apps. We soon realised just how difficult it was to get integrated with these couriers, due to a lack of API access to couriers’ systems, poor documentation etc. Furthermore, many of the small businesses are not sending huge volumes and find themselves stuck with madly uncompetitive pricing. Many don’t have the resources to re-negotiate these rates. We decided to solve these two problems and develop a product that served this niche market. From that point on, we were up and running, generating cash from the very beginning.

So what makes your business different? What gives you the edge over your competitors?

By allowing businesses to benefit from our large volume accounts with couriers, ParcelBright is able to offer heavily discounted pricing, and our technology means they can get sending faster. We are able to expertly manage all a businesses’ parcels, regardless of which sales channel it came from.

ParcelBright also handles all of our customers’ queries, instead of passing them on to various couriers. In that respect, we really do provide end-to-end logistics handling. This is a first within the logistics market and has certainly been part of the reason we’ve grown so much in such a short period of time.

And any challenges you encountered?

The biggest challenges we have faced were around scalability. We’ve grown so quickly, and we’ve had to focus on constantly improving our systems on the fly, to ensure that we could cope with the growing amount of business we were handling. Being a startup, we were still putting in place best practices, so we had to work hard to make sure every customer experienced our full concierge service.

Tell me about your goals and visions for the future – in say the next 5 years?

We set our expectations for the product very high, and have proven very quickly that we are a disruptive force within the industry. We’re certain that within 2 years we will be the go-to providers of parcel delivery solutions for UK businesses. With our ParcelBright Shipping API allowing developers to send parcels from within their apps, and plugins for Shopify and Magento in the works, we’re sure to be delivering a parcel near you, soon.