Our Start-up of the Week is Fetch, a provider of last-mile delivery software and hardware that wants to be ‘an Uber-style solution for deliveries’.
James Redmond, CEO and co-founder of Fetch, began his career in tech during the recession.
After completing an electrical apprenticeship and purchasing his first home, the economic downturn hit and Redmond found himself unemployed with a large mortgage. He looked for an opportunity to upskill and enrolled in TU Dublin’s Blanchardstown campus where he completed a BA in renewable energy.
“It was here that I learned the basics of programming logic controls and the fundamentals of how computers operate,” Redmond told Siliconrepublic.com.
“After a year in this course, I got the technology bug and started creating my own wireframes for mobile apps and website projects. After many ideas and pushbacks, I eventually developed the concept for Fetch in 2016.”
The idea that Redmond and his co-founder Darren Boylan settled on is what they describe as “an Uber-style solution for deliveries”.
A gap in the delivery market
“Fetch is a last-mile delivery provider that also creates and implements software and hardware solutions that are leased to third-party delivery providers,” Redmond explained. “For example, dispatch software and collection lockers. We feel we have more in common with Silicon Valley than traditional [delivery] providers.”
He said that the global delivery sector is currently undergoing a huge shift, which is opening up gaps in the market.
‘We really want to improve the last-mile sector as it is such an important service to the public’
– JAMES REDMOND
“Year on year it is evolving, improving and speeding up. These market shifts have opened up holes in the current delivery infrastructure and systems which were not designed to cater for this faster paced service,” Redmond said.
“Retailers now need same-day delivery solutions to compete with the likes of Amazon. Third-party delivery providers need better solutions to plug holes in the current system.”
Fetch is aimed at retailers of all sizes, with delivery service, retail solutions and dispatch software. It offers a same-day delivery service on demand, and its drivers can collect packages throughout the day and deliveries can be tracked online.
One area the start-up has spotted room for opportunity is the florist sector. It has adapted its system to create florist-specific software, with a system that handles driver dispatch, production line, label printing, card printing and live customer updates in a single dashboard.
Making Fetch happen
Fetch was launched last year. The Dublin-based team has built the platform from the ground up, leveraging an array of third-party services to maximise the responsiveness of its system.
“We chose Microsoft Azure combined with Linux to support the platform,” Redmond explained. “This has allowed us to provision up and down or add notes as needed, depending on predicted demand.
“One of the things that is important for the business is to have a level of roll-out agility that allows us to incrementally deploy new and enhanced features from our roadmap.
“We have implemented a full replica staging environment and continuous integration/continuous delivery. Once we are happy with our targeted release, it’s one click to our production. This level of versatility and control has allowed us to respond to changes in our business efficiently and effectively, without disrupting the availability of our platform.”
Fetch now works with a network of independent drivers for its deliveries, but an early challenge the business encountered was meeting the critical mass of daily deliveries and active drivers needed to develop a smooth on-demand service.
Redmond said that once you have enough drivers, you will always have a driver nearby when required. For this reason, it has been important for Fetch to build up its driver network.
“The ultimate goal is to become the leading third-party provider of last-mile delivery software and hardware,” he said. “We really want to improve the last-mile sector as it is such an important service to the public and we believe it should run as efficiently as possible. If we could contribute to that in a meaningful way, it would be a really huge success for the company.”
Redmond said that Fetch has seen steady growth over the last 18 months, with a “large spike” in demand as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, Fetch has focused its resources towards the development and deployment of new services, such as its retailer-focused solution and dispatch software.
He added that funding is likely on the cards in the future, as the firm is “ready to expand” its offerings in the delivery sector.
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