The science whiz challenging the parcel delivery business

Sendle's James Chin Moody

One smart logistics idea led to another for tech entrepreneur James Chin Moody.

James Chin Moody, founder of Australian parcel delivery start-up Sendle, loves logistics. He launched the company in 2014 while trying to find a cost-effective courier service for his earlier start-up, TuShare, a web-based platform for people to give away items they no longer wanted.

The aim of Sendle is to simplify logistics, and Chin Moody plans to modernise postal services in the process. 

The development of TuShare, which launched in 2012, presented a major challenge – how to get the items from the giver to the receiver. The sender could queue up at a post office and pay – often quite a lot of money – to send a second-hand item to a stranger. But if TuShare was to be a success, that process needed to be far simpler and, as Chin Moody says, “frictionless”.

“The process had to meet three requirements,” says the former executive at CSIRO, who was awarded Young Australian of the Year in Science and Technology in 2001.

“It had to be door to door, because nobody wants to queue at the post office. It had to be cost-effective, because the value in what was being sent was often quite low. And it had to be low-order quantity to suit the delivery of one item at a time.”

“We automated wherever possible, tracked every package and used data to inform our decisions.”

Sendle owns no vans; instead, Chin Moody negotiated deals with various courier businesses to deliver its parcels – tapping into the existing infrastructure of bigger and established logistics companies. In doing so, he and his software company colleagues were also introducing those courier companies to an enormous, if scattered, new market. 

As well as offering door-to-door delivery, the prices that TuShare had negotiated were mostly far below anything Australia Post could offer (TuShare delivery costs to anywhere in Australia, for up to 25kg, ranged from A$9.75 to A$39.95). 

Savvy members of TuShare recognised its benefits before the company’s directors did. Sendle soon became a logistics and fulfilment spin-off of the operation and small businesses became its key target market. 

“People had begun using TuShare to send packages because it was a better and cheaper service than Australia Post,” says Chin Moody.

“We had been looking at solving the problem of re-use, but what we had found was Sendle, a solution to the problem of lining up at the post office to send things from one person to another.”

Chin Moody closed TuShare in 2015 in order to concentrate on Sendle, which secured investment funding of A$1.8 million last year.

“We understood with Sendle that we were in a very low-margin business,” he says, “so we automated wherever possible, tracked every package to protect against time-consuming problems and used data to inform our decisions. That way we could still ensure high levels of customer service. 

“We wanted to become the business that supports good businesses. We like to think we’re helping SMEs to thrive.”

One piece of advice

“Success comes down to focus, which means choosing what not to do is as important as choosing what to do. The hardest thing in business is saying no to opportunities that look very attractive. But if you say yes to everything, you may succeed at nothing.”

Read next: What the future of global postal services looks like

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May 2016
May 2016

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