Inside Track: Stephen O’Sullivan, founder and owner of ParcelDirect.ie
O’Sullivan saw a customers’ need for a more convenient and cost-effective way of sending packages
Stephen O’Sullivan: “The one thing I always live by is don’t ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself”
ParcelDirect.ie was born out of a need Stephen O’Sullivan was seeing in his costumers – a more convenient and cost-effective way of sending packages. Already owner of a logistics company in Cork city, O’Sullivan started the alternative shipping company four years ago with consumers and small businesses in mind, providing them with one-off worldwide shipping.
What distinguishes your business from your competitors?
It’s the convenience for the consumer and small business. With a few clicks you could have booked and paid for your parcel. If it’s going outside the EU you’ll have completed all your customs documentation. And within five minutes you can have processed your parcel and can have it picked up the next day and delivered anywhere in the world in a couple of days.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?
The actual promotion of the company – the costs involved in promoting the business to get our products and services recognised by as many people as possible. We are only a relatively new company so we wouldn’t have the budget of some of the larger companies. We try to do a lot through social media and targeted advertising on Google AdWords as well.
What’s your major success to date?
We did roll out a network of local parcel shops around the country where people, if they can’t wait in for the courier, can choose to drop off their parcels to be collected. If they are ordering something online they can chose to have it delivered to their local store if they are out working.
What more could the Government do to help SMEs?
It would be great if there was more information and the funding was more easily accessible. What I have found in the past is that, when we have looked at it, it’s very onerous on a small start-up to avail of the funding, with the amount of forms and stuff like that that you have to go through. Ease of access for start-ups I would say.
Do you think that the banks are open for business?
We’ve been fortunate in a sense that we’ve not had to go to them too often, but when I’ve investigated it, tested the waters with them, they have always been very open to it. More so than any of the government avenues; we’ve found it easier to deal with the banks.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
I’ve misspent money on advertising campaigns where it didn’t have any effect whatsoever. It was only afterwards that we realised we had allocated the money into the wrong place. It was just too targeted on a specific media outlet but it didn’t have the effect that we would have hoped for, and I realise afterwards we were targeting the wrong market with that campaign.
Whom do you admire in business and why?
Bobby Kerr. I’ve always admired his tenacity because he has come through a lot of adversity. I admire the success he’s had with Insomnia coffee as well. He spoke about moving from point to point, fixing coffee machines himself at the start of it. I always admire someone who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty and do the job that’s required to make a success of his business.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
The one thing I always live by is, don’t ask anyone to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. When I’m hiring staff I would never expect them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. If you are working with someone or someone is working for me, I want them to feel part of the team. I suppose I never want to place myself above anyone else in that regard. You have to be able to muck in.
How do you see the short-term future of your business?
We’ve had a good year this year, so next year we want to continue the expansion of the ParcelDirect local network to give people more access to the local stores for collection and drop-off points. We just want to see the company grow in line with the growth that we’ve had this year, and to make more people aware of our service throughout the country.
What’s your business worth, and would you sell it.
I honestly haven’t had it valued so I don’t know. Would I sell it? If the right offer came along, I’d always consider it.