If the sharing economy can bring a pizza to your door, why can’t it bring some extra lumber to a work site?
That’s the simplistic take on Ottawa-based startup GoFor, which recently won a Bootstrap Award for its on-demand delivery service for construction materials. CEO Brad Rollo, who spent 10 years in the construction industry after a career in technology, told Techopia Live this week why this idea brought him back to entrepreneurship.
“I spent all my time in my vehicle running around being a gofer, getting materials for job sites,” Rollo told Techopia Live, reflecting on his time in the field. He realized that while large orders were well handled by suppliers, there was a gap in the supply chain for smaller material orders. An on-demand service could fill the void for contractors that need a few extra supplies in a timely manner.
Like Uber Eats, GoFor has a fleet of independent contractors that can deliver materials as needed to job sites across Ottawa. When suppliers are booked up and delivery could take more than a day, the startup is there to fill the gap.
The problem is real and the solution is viable, but Rollo says GoFor hit a roadblock in going after the contractors. To reach thousands of potential customers, the startup would need a massive marketing budget, which, as a bootstrapped firm, wasn’t readily available.
The other barrier to adoption is the we’ve-always-done-it-this-way attitude that Rollo says is common amongst long-time contractors. He believes that now is the right time for the industry to adopt technological solutions to improve efficiency.
“You’ve got a broken industry. Productivity is way down. You’re starting to hear more tech companies going out to make construction more productive.”
So, a pivot: GoFor decided to establish partnerships with the suppliers themselves, offering the firm’s services a supplement to their own busy fleets.
“All of a sudden they were coming to us and saying, ‘This is something we really need,’” Rollo said.
With suppliers on its side, GoFor has a direct line to hundreds of contractors, who are told to sign up for this on-demand service if they have last-minute orders.
Rollo says the company plans to expand to the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary and the south-eastern United States soon, and claims to have plenty of interest from customers across the continent.
“We have a long, long list of suppliers across North America waiting for us. If I had all the money in the world, I could be in every city in the world, I’d have over 7,000 partners ready, using us.”
To hear more about Rollo’s thoughts on a lagging construction industry and the role tech can play, watch the video above.