Mombasa raha! Kuingia ni furaha, kutoka ni matanga. For one Jimmy Tune Fondo, living in Mombasa, is like having a paid holiday 365 days in a year. How lucky can one be?
Read Fondo’s inspiring story about how he started off by borrowing a bicycle from a night guard to make deliveries and his five pieces of advice for entrepreneurs.
The birth of Crosstown Courier Ltd
“I once volunteered at the Ministry of Education Mombasa County during my third year in university. I was part of the organizing team that put together the Mombasa County education stakeholder’s forum.
We printed thousands of invitation letters that were meant to go to all education stakeholders in the county. Two weeks to the event, we had only received a handful responses. We went into a panic. Upon investigations, we discovered that the messengers we had tasked to make the deliveries had outsourced the job to third parties. They could not account if all the letters had been delivered.
The long and short of the story is the event was poorly attended and we lost a lot of money. The event was a flop. I was very disappointed.
After the traumatic experience I thought… what if I had a bicycle and delivered the letters myself? Perhaps the event would not have been a flop! That ladies and gentlemen is how Crosstown Courier Ltd was born.
I picked a company name that I feel communicates. You do not need to think too hard. When you read or hear ‘Crosstown Courier’, it gives you a hint of what we do. We officially launched the business on 1st November, 2014.
Sweat, blood and tears. Challenges I faced
A good business idea is one thing. Executing the idea is a different thing. I faced many challenges when I started. I will highlight the two major and explain how I dealt with the challenges.
The first challenge I faced was capital. I started the business when I was a third year campus student surviving on the little pocket money my parents gave me. I really needed a bicycle to run errands but I did not have any money even to buy a cheap bicycle. However, I was very determined to get my business going. So I convinced a friend who was a night guard to lend me his bicycle.
The second headache was gaining trust from clients. You can imagine a third year student convincing clients that I will actually deliver their parcels. Many clients were hesitant that their packages would reach their destination on time and secure. It was like pulling teeth!
Since I started the business in 2014, we have invested KSh 370,000. This was money from Swiss Re Foundation through Aiducation International, an organization that offers merit based high school scholarships and also supports startups.
The business is yet to break even. From our projections, we expect to break even in the next five months. For me, the objective of starting Crosstown Courier Ltd was to replace the old inefficient messenger service and offer a reliable delivery service in Mombasa. We are creating an affordable and reliable delivery system.
The busiest season for us is during celebrations. We receive many orders for shopping and food deliveries. We balance by signing long-term contracts with companies to cover us during the dry seasons.
I am proud that in the last two years, the business has really grown. Currently we have six full time employees and three who work on a part time basis. I hire people who can share our vision and enjoy working in the courier business. All our staff are vibrant youths.
I laugh every time I think that I started off with a borrowed bicycle. It is the bicycles that have distinguished us from the rest. Our staff use bicycles to get their way around Mombasa City. We save on time compared to our competitors who have invested in vehicles and waste a lot of time in traffic. And maintaining a bicycle is very cheap!
Innovating the business with an app and electric bicycles
We have made the lives of our clients very easy. They can book deliveries online.
It will be even easier as they can use a delivery mobile phone application that we will be launching in a few weeks. The App is a very big deal for us and will be the game changer for us. We are partnering with restaurants in Mombasa to add their food menus in the App. Other business partners who will be on our App include gas suppliers and online shops. This strategy will increase our sales by 50%.
I see a very bright future for the business. That is what gives me sleepless nights.
We are currently in the process of buying our first three electric bikes. They will be delivered by the end of October 2016. With the bikes, we will improve our delivery time and it will be easy for the delivery staff to move from one zone to another. Buying electric bikes is part of our green entrepreneurship concept.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs from Jimmy Tune:
1. If you have a passion for something or an idea – don’t wait. Go ahead. Start with what you have. Most people procrastinate because they want to have everything before starting. There is no perfect time to start. Start with what you have. Other things will find you along the way.
2. Believe in the idea yourself first. Be passionate about it. Nobody will buy an idea from you if you do not even believe in it.
3. You will fail. Be ready to fail. Not once, not twice. Many times. The most important thing is how soon you get up, dust yourself and stand. Keep trying. Failing is good because it makes you gain experience of a lifetime.
4. There are many people/organizations that are willing to support young entrepreneurs not only in Kenya but all over the world. Rise up and be counted.