John Jonelis –
The audience roars! This roomful of raucous investors demand answers the way hungry wolves tear at meat. Men and women shout as if in the trading pits of the CME. I see wallets wagging in eager hands, but the kids presenting tonight are unprepared for such a high level of scrutiny and the questions keep coming—one louder than the last. Now the speaker shouts to be heard as the meeting spirals out of control.
The hype dished out tonight may fly high at Techweek but you can’t get away with that at BNC Venture Capital. Never could. The culprit here could be ignorance or arrogance—after all, the second always breeds the first. But the fact is that none of these companies accepted coaching prior to the event, so they come here not knowing what to expect.
And it’s a pity. In my opinion, each of these ventures is highly investible. Will those wagging wallets get tucked away safe tonight, or will one of these teams get some real funding?
There it is! One guy just yelled at another to shuttup! And he used that word in a forum known for its gentlemanly manners. Outrageous! And I love it. These people are emotionally engaged—they really care—and they show it with unabashed, uninhibited avarice. Now four more shout all the louder, all at the same time.
The reigning winner of Techweek takes the podium:
At Techweek’s Startup City event, this company received its $100,000 first place trophy from the hands of Mayor Emanuel himself. For those who are not language scholars, Emanuel translates “God with us,” so I suppose that makes it the highest honor given to mortal man.
Along the way, WeDeliver has racked up a shelf load of other awards: First place at Startup Weekend. Chicago’s hottest startup at TechCoctail. And the list goes on. Will they win tonight, too?
Jimmy Odom, founder of WeDeliver, is last up at BNC tonight. He jokes, “The audience is so aggressive, I almost took off during the break.” And the crowd continues its boisterous ways. But this is a powerfully built man, like a wrestler, and with the lungpower to make himself heard above the din without a microphone.
He stands confident, self-possessed, and masterful. This is a man of color, his dreadlocks neatly trimmed and pulled behind his head in a businesslike way. He wears a neat black T-shirt, his WeDeliver logo emblazoned across the chest. You’ll get the picture if you use your imagination to clean up Matt Guitar Murphy as he appeared in the movie The Blues Brothers.
With a thorough knowledge of his industry and a sure belief in himself, Odom projects the strong presence he sorely needs in the midst of this ongoing commotion.
Old Tech, New Tech
His concept isn’t complicated but it’s clever and compelling. He focuses on one thing and does it well.
- This is a hyper-local delivery service for Mom and Pop businesses—he won’t deliver over 35 miles.
- He uses mobile technology to make the transaction experience automatic and GPS to track packages in real time like never before.
- He uses crowdsourcing to find and rate delivery professionals to build a better team.
- He rewards professional courtesy to make the delivery experience a delight and build customer loyalty for his company and the stores that use it.
- People want to buy local. When same-day delivery becomes the STANDARD way of doing business, local brick and mortar businesses will gain an edge over huge online retailers.
- Mom and Pop stores want to expand their reach. But they can’t afford the time and cost of building their own independent delivery networks. A reliable, high-end, same-day service will give them an edge over bulk shipping companies in the local community.
- Stores all want to promote their brand. WeDeliver is a clever moniker. It tags to the end of most any business name: “Joe’s Shoes – WeDeliver.” “Myrtle’s Flowers – WeDeliver.” It’s a magnet and a driver of customer loyalty.
- 200,000 people in Chicago want work. If you own a smartphone and a truck/car/bike, you can deliver. And if the customer doesn’t answer the door, you can text a message and shift your plans. If you don’t satisfy the customer, management will hear about it directly from that customer. Immediately. Electronically.
This is a Win/Win/Win—Stores/Customers/Unemployed all benefit.
What About the Money?
People shout out questions on detail after detail. But nobody’s questioning the concept.
- How will he scale? On the back of a channel partner.
- How will he protect his turf? By securing marketing penetration in Chicago, he creates a barrier to entry.
His pricing comes into question and I am not immune to the glory of a good argument. I perniciously bait Odom, claiming I can hire a cab driver at a cheaper rate. The statement is absurd on the face of it, but how will he react in the heat of the moment? His response is businesslike—forceful, but not reactionary, and includes believable facts and figures. I’m delighted with the way he handles it and I tell him so immediately.
His financial presentation is sorely lacking and as I mentioned, this crowd isn’t averse to saying so with plenty of emphasis. He points out that the numbers get crazy after just one year so he’s focusing on the next quarter. It gets particularly testy on the subject of investor payback.
Then one young lady points out that any one of us can sit down with the company and agree to mutually amicable terms. Things get a lot more polite after that.
Somehow, The Business Plan Police don’t show up tonight, and WeDeliver adds one more first-place finish to their trophy shelf.
Go to BNC – DA LEG BREAKER ‘N’ DA SNAKE OIL
Back to BNC – MAKE TIME FOR LOVE
Back to – TECH CHILDREN – TECHWEEK PART 2
WeDeliver – www.wedeliver.us
Photo credits – WeDeliver, Techweek, BNC Venture Capital
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.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved