Irish woman Avis Mulhall is the co-founder of a new website based in Sydney for travellers to get rewards for delivering something locally during their travels. Operating around the philosophy of karma, the site is called mmMule.
Its aim is to be a social travel network that connects locals who want items with travellers who can deliver them during their voyages.
"Our website allows people to get anything they want from anywhere in the world, by rewarding a traveller with an experience, like drinks in a cool local bar, for delivering it," said Mulhall, speaking from Sydney.
Another aspect of the site is AngelMule, which gives people the option of using part of their holiday to deliver urgently needed supplies such as clothing, food, or used electronics to organisations in need in developing countries.
The site had its soft launch in early February.
"We soft launched the site with no marketing and the idea spread quickly. In our first day, we had traffic from 67 different countries, 1,900 hits and 53 requests were posted.
Now Mulhall has just been chosen as a delegate to represent Australia at the G20 YES summit in Mexico in June.
"Entrepreneurship is something I am passionate about for a number of reasons, the main one being that I honestly believe it’s the most powerful tool in breaking the cycle of poverty in developing countries by empowering individuals to bring about change themselves," she said.
Goodwill and karma
Mulhall said the idea for the site came to her when she quit her career in Ireland as a recruiter in wealth management and financial planning in 2008 to head to Africa.
"While I was living in the rainforest in Tanzania and teaching kids I saw how much the project suffered due to lack of resources, so often I would need teaching aids or simply stationary to give the kids so they could study. At the same time I knew that every day thousands of people travelled to Tanzania, so I thought what if everyone brought along a stash of pencils, or a bag of books, what difference could it make?"
Mulhall then headed to Mozambique where she ran a surf and yoga lodge. It was while there that she met her future business partner Andrew Simpson, who had left his career as a creative director in New York.
"I met Andrew in Mozambique. We travelled to Ethiopia together and while we were half way up a mountain with a dancing priest and a goat named Henry we decided to go into business together!"
Co-founders of mmMule.com. From left, Andrew Simpson, now CEO; Avis Mulhall, marketing director; and Alan Mulhall, development director
She said the site, which has its base near Bondi Beach in Sydney, is proving to be catching on and there are now ‘Mules’ from all over the world.
"They’re delivering weird and wonderful things like boutique coffees, vintage bow ties, vegan oatmeal cookies and Guatemalan blankets and getting drinks, food and accommodation in return.
"We also have a miniature army of AngelMules on the move, delivering cameras, clothing, sunscreen, food, musical instruments and more to not-for-profit projects and grassroots organisations around the world."
Mulhall said the site is all about creating experiences.
"We want to connect people online, but create tangible, mutually beneficial relationships offline.
Monetising from the site?
And as for the monetising from mmMule, Mulhall said it’s not happening yet, but that herself and Andrew have some strategies in the pipeline.
"We have a few strategies, including a secure escrow system for higher-ticket items, and eventually a micro-fundraising platform on AngelMule so that travellers can raise money from their friends and families back home if they want to be an AngelMule for multiple projects."