Entrepreneurship in polytechnics: Crowdsourced courier idea delivers

Co-founded in 2014 by Temasek Polytechnic graduates Mr Yee (far left) and Mr Wong, Qourier is an on-demand service that connects customers to crowdsourced couriers.
Co-founded in 2014 by Temasek Polytechnic graduates Mr Yee (far left) and Mr Wong, Qourier is an on-demand service that connects customers to crowdsourced couriers.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

An off-putting experience while sending a parcel inspired Mr Elston Yee to start a delivery service.

"The queues in the post office were really what put me off. Not only did I need to walk to the office, I was also faced with queues that took up to 20 minutes to clear," recalled Mr Yee.

And so Qourier, an on-demand service that connects customers to crowdsourced couriers, was born.

 
 
 

It was founded in 2014 by Mr Yee and Mr Wong Yongjie, both 31 and graduates of Temasek Polytechnic (TP), together with Mr Satheesh Thekku Veethil, 40, an IT professional based in Australia.

Although they were both from the same cohort in TP, Mr Yee and Mr Wong first met each other only during national service in 2004. They clicked immediately and started discussing business ideas.

They did not start a business immediately, though. Mr Yee went on to work in logistics, while Mr Wong worked in the marketing communications industry and had a five-year stint in Shanghai.

But the duo continued to consider various business opportunities.

In 2014, 10 years after they met, they decided to take the plunge after both had quit their jobs, which they felt were too "monotonous".

A discussion over coffee following Mr Yee's experience in the post office led them to establish Qourier.

In September 2014, they registered the company, sought funding from investors and contacted TP's Entrepreneurship Centre (TPEC) to seek advice on their start-up.

"We were surprised at how receptive TPEC's mentors were to alumni. They were cordial off the bat, went out of their way to help us and were emotionally invested in our project," said Mr Wong.

TEPC's mentors gave them guidance on their business model and linked them up with Mr Satheesh, as they were looking for someone with IT expertise.

The centre also put them through a dry run for a five-minute presentation they had to give to government agency Spring Singapore to secure a grant. "They gave us a clear idea of what the panel at Spring Singapore wanted, which really helped us to nail the grant," said Mr Wong.

Since the launch of its mobile application in March last year, Qourier has had more than 10,000 deliveries, which cost a minimum of $5 per delivery.

It has assembled a pool of about 2,300 couriers from all walks of life, mainly through word of mouth.

After shifting its focus towards corporate clients in August last year and creating a website, Qourier has seen a 40 per cent increase in deliveries every month. They currently serve more than a hundred corporate clients.

"Based on how things are panning out, we intend to expand our business internationally next year," said Mr Wong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2016, with the headline 'Crowdsourced courier idea delivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe