We had a chance to chat with Arjen van der Zee, the co-founder of PickThisUp. Find out what made this business consultant quit his job and embark on a startup journey with his rocking team. Learn more about their funding rollercoaster ride, the exciting news 2017 brought them and their plans for the next six months.
1. Hi Arjen, thank you for agreeing to do the interview! Tell us about PickThisUp, the idea that got it all started and the amazing team behind it.
Once upon a time… There were three guys with a crazy idea. They decided to quit their job, to sell their motorcycle and car and to build the first MVP prototype. Today, this crazy idea is a company that has daily customers.
It all started with buying new tires for my car. I couldn’t afford new ones, so I started searching for them on Marktplaats. I found a really good deal and saved 150€!! However, there was a catch…The tires were in Middelburg (Zeeland) while I was living in Sneek (Friesland). Obviously, the tires didn’t fit in a box, so sending them as a package wasn’t an option. And couriers turned out to be way too expensive, around 200€. After considering canceling the sale for a second, I finally changed my mind and hopped in my car on a free Thursday only to drive 640 km to pick-it-up (hence the name).
While I was driving, I started wondering: out of 8 million drivers in the Netherlands, couldn’t have someone done this for me? But being a business consultant with two left hands, it was only an idea which would have stayed an idea. Fortunately, my brother (the designer) and Aram (the hacker) joined me and helped turning this idea into a business.
2. Congrats on successfully closing your Leapfunder round! Most founders struggle to raise funding. What was the hardest part of the process for you? Please take us through your funding rollercoaster ride and the steps you took to successfully close your round.
Thanks, it was quite an experience. We launched our campaign a few days before the Christmas holidays and for the first few weeks, there was total, scary silence… Even within our own network of family, friends, and acquaintances – who were telling us they would check it out sometime in January because they were too busy with the holidays. So if there is one major lesson for us, it’s the timing of the campaign. Luckily, after the first two weeks, people started responding and we got our first investors on board.
Besides that, the team had a crowdfunding workshop last summer. We learned a lot about network management and sales pipeline. Since day 1 we had a master plan ready – when to contact the people we know (prioritized on wave 1 to 4). During this period we kept experimenting with the types of messages as well as with the type of contact, in order to see what had the best conversion (for instance: we started out with a long email, but ended up with just a short one and a brief invitation to raise curiosity, after which there were 3-4 follow-up steps). Nevertheless, there was no guarantee and it was super exciting to see if we would make it!
3. 2017 started off with a lot of exciting news for you: a rockin’ demo day, new partners, new team members, growing network of drivers, pivot from a C2C to a B2C business model, integration with DHL and successfully closing your funding round… What was Startupbootcamp’s role in helping you achieve all of this? How did the demo day impact your funding round?
It shook the company, the team and ourselves on a personal level and set a good foundation for the next phase. We had our concept proven but needed advice on how to go from there. SBC helped us a lot with workshops, coaching and networking with awesome mentors who were always available and ready to help.
4. What made you choose Leapfunder as your online funding platform? What would you say are the benefits of using convertible notes, both for PickThisUp & potential investors?
We selected Leapfunder as our funding platform because we got a good deal from Startupbootcamp, which came with a combination of several investors from different disciplines.
Leapfunder convertible notes are a great way for angel investors to diversify their portfolio and for the entrepreneur to have several experts on board. However, we were surprised by the lack of knowledge about the convertibles and the somewhat negative image it has gotten. We noticed that 9 out of 10 people still needed a lot of guidance and help with understanding the convertible note and its benefits. The majority of investors came from our own network, and they needed a lot of help and advice during the process, which was a lot more time-consuming than we expected.
Nevertheless, I strongly believe in the benefits of convertible notes (no dilution, less risk, the benefits in case the startup doesn’t reach its goals, etc.) and I would like to see it adapting to the market needs even more. The somewhat negative image is definitely not always based on facts!
5. Which route will you follow over the next 6 months? Please share how you’re planning to utilize the funding received from your Leapfunder round. Are you planning to raise another funding round this year?
We’re not able to say much about our six-month plan since we noticed our competitors are monitoring us pretty closely. However, I can say that after interviewing all kinds of customer segments that were using PickThisUp (from car garages to Marktplaats consumers and furniture webshops), we found a specific niche segment with a big problem which was a benefit for us. We reached out to several companies that have a link to these customers. Our focus the next couple of months will be working with them. To be continued…
Thank you for the interview and your valuable advice Arjen. Best of luck to you and PickThisUp!