An idea is born
ANCHOVY. founders Benji and Zak Borg have announced their exit as shareholders from Fetch It, the first on-demand delivery service in Malta.
Founded in late 2016 and launched in early 2017, Fetch It was set up to revolutionise the way the transportation of goods and products is done in Malta. Just a click on their website and a small delivery charge, and Fetch It will make sure your goods are picked up and delivered at the destination of choice.
After linking up with ANCHOVY. and Fetch It co-founders, Benji and Zak Borg, we learned about the origins of this innovative startup. Benji recalls:
“Fetch It, as a concept was originated by Seb Ripard and myself. We spent a lot of time together training and travelling in the run up to the Olympics sailing event. When you’re spending 20 hours a day on the road and all you’re doing is talking, you tend to come up with a few ideas. After our campaign, we kept coming back to the point that there is a growing pain point in Malta: traffic! The movement of people and goods around the island is only going to get continuously worse if we continue with the status quo.”
From these initial conversations, the idea of Fetch It was born to provide a hassle free delivery system for businesses, using bikes as the primary modes of transportation. As with most startups, Fetch It did not have the luxury of getting external investors onboard from day one. What they did have however was co-founders who complemented each other with the right skill sets – a crucial ingredient given so much work is done internally when bootstrapping a business. Between the Borg brothers and Seb, Benji remarks how the right mix of skills were already at hand to get this idea to the local market.
“Seb’s background and family business was in shipping and logistics. Zak and I came from a tech and marketing background. So it was the perfect synergy. We went into to it clearly on a 50/50 basis – Seb taking the helm in terms of operations and logistics whereas we would take on the marketing and technology side.”
As with any startup taking on a surmountable challenge, the Fetch It team were soon facing teething problems in their attempt to swiftly move goods from A to B. The team set a runway to go live with the platform, and worked painstakingly at fine tuning the technological platform to their needs as well as for the local market. Zak points out how they quickly found out that this was a business model that required efficiency of the highest order:
“Once we had the first iteration of the platform ready and our first riders on the ground, we realised that the technology needed to be extremely sophisticated in order for us to be profitable. I think it’s fair to say that we initially underestimated the tech aspect. The reality is that once you start delving deeper into how to make money off a technological platform that is moving things from A to B – it purely boils down to how efficient you can be.”
“From these initial conversations, the idea of Fetch It was born to provide a hassle free delivery system for businesses, using bikes as the primary modes of transportation.”
The way forward
Benji recalls how the team knuckled down in pure bootstrap fashion to get things right.
“Whilst we were building this tech and trying to determine the right algorithms, we were pretty much processing all of our orders manually through an excel sheet. The load on the team was huge in terms of processing and calculating these ‘fetches’, especially after we started gaining significant traction.”
Nonetheless, the team persevered through these challenging times, which Benji largely attributes to the common purpose and vision that the team shared. Fetch It aims to be 100% green and eco-friendly from now on and in the years ahead, and this was a narrative that everyone involved in the startup could really get behind.
In its second year of operation, Fetch It started to experience fast growth, especially having cracked the local food delivery market. Having brought a third investor to the table, a key player in the online food ordering space, Fetch It was growing up quickly and solidifying its stance in the marketplace.
Zak observes how as the company continued to grow and reach increasingly mature stages of its life, ANCHOVY’s position was rightfully questioned. “Our key contributions came purely through a marketing and tech focus, arguably elements which were mostly needed to get the company off the ground. We realised we had less to contribute in terms of the ongoing operational endeavours of the company, which were now naturally the central focus of this business model.” Moreover, ANCHOVY. at the time were going through the arduous process of going public on the Malta Stock Exchange. Given the circumstances, the Borg brothers felt the time the right was to part ways with Fetch It.
“It wasn’t a case of pulling out because we didn’t believe in the business. We believe in Fetch It wholeheartedly and we still do to this day. We as ANCHOVY. simply felt that we couldn’t continue investing our time in this venture and could no longer contribute as profoundly as we did to the business, given its stage”.
Benji shares how it was a unanimous and amicable hand-over, and a mature decision which was in the best interest of Fetch It at the time. “Whilst it was really sad to part ways with such a great business, it also proved a great learning curve for us, being our first exit so to speak. The emotional connection to something you helped build is incredibly strong, so making this decision was especially tough.”
Looking back on the experience, the entrepreneurs felt there were many positives to take away. Whilst admitting that they felt out of their depth at times given logistics was virtually an unknown space to them, Zak shares that building a product outside of their comfort zone led to expanding their horizons.
“Despite the hurdles, we learned about the intrinsic complexities of this type of business. We learned how to build an algorithm. We learned how to build a tech platform. We learned about the challenges of working with a tech team based halfway around the world. We learned about the power of purpose and the way our staff we were willing to go the extra mile for a business that they truly believed in.”
As Fetch It are standing up and providing one solution to a very big problem in Malta today, the Borg brothers feel proud of the work they have done together with Seb and the team. They look forward to seeing the company continue to grow from strength to strength and their fleet of ‘fetchers’ with their trademark pink delivery boxes dominate Maltese streets.