Monday, May 1, 2017
Interview with Brenda Stoner, CEO, PICKUP
Everyone's had to deal with it at least once: you buy a big, heavy object at the local big box retailer, but you find you just can't get it home without a pickup truck. Dallas-based PICKUP (https://pickupnow.com) has a solution for you: an on-demand service which taps what CEO Brenda Stoner calls "the good guys" with pickups to help you get your heavy delivery home. We talked with Brenda about her startup.
What's the idea behind PICKUP?
Brenda Stoner: When it comes to the last mile of delivery for products, we can now get sandwiches and T-shirts from places like Amazon Prime. However, when anything weighs over 50 pounds, there's no way to get something delivered rapidly. That was the gap we discovered in the marketplace two years ago, and we have now put together a program of what we call good guys and their pickup trucks, to solve that problem. Think about it as borrowing a friend's pickup truck, without the guilt.
How did the company start?
Brenda Stoner: Just like most people, I found myself on multiple occasions needing to borrow a pickup truck. I don't have one—I happen to be a single mom—and it's a problem to move something big. I had bought something big at Costco I couldn't get home, and also saw that companies had to get inventory across town on very short notice, but no one had time to do it. Driving around, I noticed all of the pickup trucks around here. One in four households in Texas has a pickup. Interestingly, nearly all of them had empty beds. That is a lot of wasted cargo space, which needs to be efficiently reused. I'm a big fan of ridesharing and on-demand companies, and I'm an entrepreneur by career. It came together in my mind one day, and I haven't slept since then.
Talk about that background as an entrepreneur?
Brenda Stoner: I started my first business in 1994. I'm an engineer by training, and I wanted to have my own business, but I just didn't know what it was gong to be. My first business was a semiconductor design firm, which was very successful. I ran that for eight years, and started a string of additional startups, which led to this. It's now my fifth startup in Dallas Fort Worth, and I think by far the most exciting one.
Where are you now?
Brenda Stoner: We're two years down the road, and we have now done thousands and thousands of successful deliveries. We've focused pretty hard on the retail sector, because when you buy items, the store delivery service is often no good, or not available in many cases. We're focused on last mile delivery for big and heavy retail items. What that means for us, is more than 50 pounds, and less than 50 miles. We can deliver lightweight items, but we're architected to go across that 50 pound threshold. The other important that that we've built and the disruption we're creating, is traditionally, moving big and heavy items has been done by two sketchy looking guys in a box truck. You don't know who they are, they are not vetted, and they're walking into your house and looking at everything you have. I think that's a little scary. What we've done, is architected trust as the key principal. Before we let someone into your house, they are fully vetted. Many are military veterans, fire fighters, and first responders, people you already trust. We focus on the good guys as our driver corp.
Are you available beyond Dallas Fort Worth?
Brenda Stoner: We're in all the major cities in Texas, including Houston and Austin, and we're contemplating an expansion to San Antonio. We're also about to expand out of state, and have a number of markets we are moving on right now.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far in this startup?
Brenda Stoner: Interestingly, the business continues to build itself. When something is actually in the right place and right time, it's amazing. People told me that timing is everything, but I never believed it. But this product which we're bringing to market, is the exact right product and at the exact right time for people who need it. I've come to believe, timing is indeed everything, and success hinges on doing the right thing at the right time.
Finally, what's next for you?
Brenda Stoner: What's next, is we want to make this the national brand it needs to be. Across the country, business, retailers, and consumers need someone to solve this problem at the national level, and we intend for that to be us.