Any Skip, Anywhere, Anytime – 2 Rubbish Entrepreneurs On A Cleanup Mission
What we love about working with entrepreneurs, is their WHY and STORY.
Everyone has a backstory and the best businesses are the ones whose mission it is to solve a problem, with founders with passion and the drive to actually do it.
Starting a business is not only about having a powerful vision, it’s about understanding your customer, their pain-points, how they consume information and how you can best service them for the lifespan of your offering.
Building solid foundations helps set you up for success and future scaling. Foundations in your product, technology, service delivery and message. This also helps to establish and build longstanding relationships with your customers, something we at D&A think is imperative to any businesses success.
Today we want to introduce you to Skip Bin Hire Australia (SBHA), an online marketplace connecting skip bin suppliers with people looking for skips. Online technology facilitating connection between resources. It may be a simple concept but it is all about the execution and how to feed both sides of the marketplace, to make it a scalable and commercial business.
Meet James Sewell, one of the founders of SBHA, who shares with us his WHY, their backstory and how they became a profitable business within 2 years, who are now scaling globally.
Hey James, tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m certainly not a conventional “entrepreneur”; in fact I spent the better part of my career in the corporate world, before jumping ship in 2016. But I had a burning desire to do something for myself. I wanted to see if I could start my own business and I had a fear of looking back and wondering “what if?”.
I am delighted I took the decision to go out for myself. It’s certainly not easy. But I have found it increadibly fulfilling and I feel like I’m living the dream.
Tell us about SBHA?
I co-founded Skip Bin Hire Australia with Brent, my brother in law and best mate. Brent came up with the idea whilst we were running PINK JUNK (founded in 2016) and it was an absolute no brainer. So he set about getting it started whilst I continued to run PINK JUNK and as it started to take off, we realized we needed to commit both our efforts to the business to make it a success.
Skip Bin Hire Australia is a very simple business: we connect people looking for skip bins, with local skip bin suppliers. It came about because we (my business partner and I) had a few issues when booking skip bins. We felt there had to be a better way. So we started to investigate ways we could make the whole process easier for the customer and the supplier.
It really boiled down to customer service and helping local suppliers compete with the big boys by bringing business to them.
We started SBHA in 2017 and by March 2018 we were both working on it full time. We transitioned PINK JUNK to an online only model (outsourcing the job fulfillment to another company) and eventually sold PINK JUNK in December last year.
What have been your challenges and wins?
The biggest challenge for us has been time. We both have young families and our wives have a very busy business of their own, so it’s not like we can dedicate 9-5 Monday to Friday even. We are both very flexible with the way we work and family comes first. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
In terms of wins, from a personal perspective, it’s been learning to work smarter not harder, which has been a consequence of lack of time; necessity rather than design. But that has allowed us far more flexibility in the way we work, to spend more time with family and be there when needed. We don’t run an office for example; our model is fully outsourced.
On a professional perspective there are small wins everyday; from happy customers providing feedback to improving a system that makes our teams life easier. To the big wins like early benchmarks such as; hitting 1,000 bins delivered, to then $1m turnover in our first year. Our next milestone will 10,000 bins delivered and we’re not too far off. We also have an expansion into the UK coming in the near future, so pretty excited about that.
How do you make sure a two-sided marketplace is successful?
The big thing is to make sure we don’t over-promise to suppliers. It’s funny because when we started we struggled to get suppliers to buy into the concept. Now we get applications from new suppliers at least once a week. But it’s important to not over-promise. So we only bring on new suppliers as we see demand grow and know we can provide them a steady stream of business. And of course customer satisfaction is at the core of what we do, so we will only work with suppliers that continue to perform and put the customer first.
What are your plans for expansion?
So we are preparing for a launch into the UK in the next month or so. It’s taken slightly longer than originally anticipated because we used the expansion as an opportunity to review our systems and make improvements before launching overseas. So for example we have been really focused on improving our live chat and providing 24hr support, which is now live. We are also re-vamping the website and making the online quote and checkout processes smoother and easier for the customer to navigate. We are rolling this out in Australia as we speak and we are currently in discussion with UK suppliers to get that process started. It’s exciting – I can’t wait to get over there and see how we go!
After that, we have some other plans, but we’ll keep that under wraps for now.
Advice you would give to people looking to start a business?
Find the cheapest, easiest and quickest way to test your idea. Your product or service doesn’t have to be perfect when you launch. Chances are that until you actually test the market, you don’t know what the customer wants. So you can spend an enormous amount of time and energy creating the perfect offering, only to discover no one wants it or, it’s not quite right.
Secondly, think about your sales and marketing strategy early. It’s great to have a brilliant product or service, but if you can’t get it in front of customers, you don’t have a business. Don’t make the mistake of putting together your sales and marketing strategy as an after-thought. It should be at the forefront of your thinking before even launching.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
That’s a really hard question to answer. On a personal level I want to be able to spend even more time with my family. On a professional level, I see SBHA as a global business. And we have some concepts forming that will position it at the forefront of the waste industry.
And of course a personal question, who do you admire?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint someone, but I have always admired anyone who is prepared to give it a go. I personally struggle with fear of failure and I have huge respect for people who overcome feel the fear and do it anyway. I think for this reason, I tend to look up to entrepreneurs; not necessarily the big names or anyone famous, but many people I have met through the years who live life on their terms. Whether that means working 24hrs a day, or prioritising other things and running a business to sustain the lifestyle they want.
Thanks James, we love working with you and seeing the business grow. You are both so passionate and have endless energy to keep it going.
I did have one more question for James as I want to share how we work together.
So, how has working with D&A helped give you direction?
When you are running a business, particularly a start up, you have so much to think about and so much going on, you often need specialist help to get the best out of your business. When we came to D&A we had revenue, we had customers and we had some systems in place. But, we didn’t know how to get to the next stage and, we didn’t know what we didn’t know about marketing in particular. We recognized we needed help.
So D&A has helped us form a long term strategy, starting with identifying our target customers, helping us put the right systems and processes in place, and focus our thinking on how to reach the people we need to reach. It’s been great and I would definitely recommend anyone in a similar position picks up the phone and has a chat with D&A. In fact I have referred several people already who were in a similar boat; they had businesses, but were a bit lost when it came to marketing strategy and execution. I think that speaks volumes about the value I believe D&A has offered us.
We would love to tip our hats to both James and Brent for their dedication to creating a service that puts the customer, both supplier and skip hirer, first. We have been happy to help them on their journey so far and are excited for what the future holds.
We hope that you have enjoyed getting to know one of the SBHA co-founders and invite you to continue watching this space for more interviews with the entrepreneurs D&A has had the pleasure to work with and assist.
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