A Chat with Marshall Hughes from Passel

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I caught up with Marshall Hughes, the CEO and founder of Passel.

During 20 years in freight, one of the most significant changes has been the proliferation of home deliveries. Marshall became frustrated with the industry’s inability to provide a solution that delights everyone.  Solutions such as drones and lockers only serve to push the problem further down the line, rather than trying to find a better way to get online orders into the hands of the customer.  

Passel began with a throwaway line:  “One day you’ll be shopping in the hardware store and your phone will ping with a message that Mrs Jones, who lives around the corner from you, has just bought a shovel online. If you deliver it on the way home, we’ll give you a $10 gift voucher”.  

Of course, that hasn’t happened, so he figured he’d go and do it himself.  Julian Kelabora joined Passel in July 2017 as CTO/Co-Founder.  With a tremendous amount of assistance from the Melbourne Founder Institute and very supportive friends and family, Passel received seed funding in December 2016 and launched in September 2017.

Watch our interview or read the transcript below:
Gen George: Hi guys. Today we are here with the CEO. Is it CEO and founder, what is the official title by the way?

Marshall Hughes: Actually Gen, thank you very much for having me there. The official title is one of the guys. 

Gen George: One of the gang, one of the guys from Passel, Marshall. Who the hell are you?

Marshall Hughes: So I am one of the guys from Passel. I was up until about a week ago the CEO and co-founder but I just decided that for me and for what the stage we're at, that title was a little bit pretentious so I've dropped it. So I'm one of the guys.
Marshall Hughes: So Passel is a process delivery service where we get regular people to do deliveries on their way home in exchange for 10 bucks. Where are we? Currently I'm sitting in Frankston in Melbourne in Victoria, in a place called Frankston.
Gen George: No wonder you look very hipster.
Marshall Hughes: Sorry, hipster?
Gen George: You're looking very hipster.
Marshall Hughes: I've got my start up sleeveless vest on which wasn't bought in Aldi but now you can get them at Aldi.
Marshall Hughes: Where are we? So the Passel story. My background is 20 years in freight and logistics. I ran a company called My Freight which is basically an enterprise level IT platform freight management company where we looked after some of Australia's biggest companies. I got out of that in July 2016 to go and run a company called E-mail Handyman which is a corporate email training company. I've got the rights to that in Australia. I did two sessions and decided I didn't want to do that 'cause it wasn't really what I wanted to do.
Marshall Hughes: I was lucky enough to get into The Founder Institute, the summer 2016 program in Melbourne. If you don't know The Founder Institute, its basically 16 weeks, 50 hours a week, of 'so you really think you want to have a start up', where they took us from everything from idea validation right through to launch your business, marketing, branding et cetera, et cetera. If you survived the program, which I think six of us did out of 25, then there's a slightly more than 1% chance that we'll have some success down the track.
Marshall Hughes: So I did that. Yes, fingers crossed. I'm not missed, it's [inaudible 00:02:08] interesting.
Marshall Hughes: So where've I been? What are we now, 16 months in? We officially launched last night.
Gen George: Cool!
Marshall Hughes: This is the 16th of April, last night was the 15th of April. We were lucky enough to get on Channel 7 news with a nice puff piece about Passel and one of our lovely customers Pure Baby and talked about that. We pretty much spent the last 24 hours onboarding customers. That was a long answer to a short question.
Gen George: No, it's perfect. Thank you.
Gen George: So with your model, I mean in one sentence how would describe it and then how does the model actually work? Your business model, so you pay people 10 dollars.
Marshall Hughes: Yeah, so basically we just get regular people to do deliveries on their way home from the shopping center. Our passers, which is what we call the delivery people, are people who've downloaded the app and registered so we know who they are and where they live. Then they've given us the ability to locate them and then we just keep it...so that's the pass it side, so that's the delivery side. 
Marshall Hughes: The customer side is the retailer. So our customers are what's called omni-channel retailers which means they have a physical network of stores and they also have an online presence. We're a ship from store customer, so instead of getting it dispatched from a distribution center in western Sydney or western Melbourne, it gets dispatched from a local store. 
Marshall Hughes: So I'm in Frankston right now. There's a Rebel Sport store. So if someone's shopping online and they live around here, they'll choose three hour delivery instead of choosing give it to me in a week with Australia Post. The store then gets it ready in store and then they send us a message and say 'hey Passel, get this done.' 
Marshall Hughes: Then all the people that are running around with our app. We use a bit of a predictive algorithm to say 'ok, we see that someone is currently at the Frankston shopping center and they're gonna be really, really close to this delivery address in a couple of hours in time. Let's see if they want the job.' So we send them a message, they say 'yes', they go and pick it up from the store like Click and Collect and then they do the delivery on the way home.
Gen George: Fantastic. What's your current traction? So you're saying you had about 2000 Passel couriers?
Marshall Hughes: Yeah so our traction, we've basically been in beta mode up until now. We've had Pure Baby and a store called [Pukki Poiger 00:04:24] as our pilot customers in Melbourne and Geelong. We've only done 60 deliveries in the past three months, but it was really just figuring out what we were doing and we did it all without an app. We were just using some SMS and some guess work and a few maps. So we're at right now, we're about to go national with Pure Baby. So Sydney and Brisbane will roll out this week.
Marshall Hughes: In the early...where are we now...in the middle of April. Late this month or early next month, we'll roll out a couple more customers. The Party People in Sydney and a few other ones. And I'm talking to a whole bunch of other retailers but until they actually sign, I'm not gonna say anything about it. 
Gen George: Of course.
Marshall Hughes: We've got about 2000 passers, so [inaudible 00:05:06] people. About over 1000 of them signed up in the last 16 hours once they saw us on Channel 7 and we're hoping to sort of use that absolute free advertising that you can't buy and really push that out through social and everything over the next few weeks. With a goal, I'd really like 10 to 15000 by the end of the month because it's a crowd right, the more people we have the better we're gonna be. 
Marshall Hughes: You asked about the business model. We charge the retailer $15 and pay the passer $10 so that's where hopefully we'll make some, some surplus revenue. The challenge around that is that we guarantee the delivery. So we don't charge if we don't deliver on time, so we really need a big crowd so we can really lock in that three hour delivery window.
Gen George: Definitely. How have you actually gotten these beta users on originally?
Marshall Hughes: The beta from the customer side or from the-?
Gen George: Customer, sorry.
Marshall Hughes: So the customers. Both [Pukki Poiger 00:06:02] and Pure Baby approached us. I made a bucket load of noise on LinkedIn and social and whatever else.
Gen George: That's where I found you.
Marshall Hughes: Well, exactly. Obviously I'm making enough noise. 
Marshall Hughes: Both of them came to us and said that they both knew. [Pukki Poiger 00:06:17] is gift store and they knew that if they can offer on demand delivery, they'll sell more because people, at Sunday afternoon and it's your mum's birthday and you've forgotten to buy anything. So they that'll be delivered in three hours. 
Gen George: Every person's cringing going 'I know that story, I know that feeling.' 
Marshall Hughes: So do you want a personal family story? I've been married for nine years. My wedding anniversary last year, I managed to forget and I don't know if this'll come through on the camera. There's actually a tattoo on my arm with my wedding date on it and I still forgot our wedding anniversary. Just as a side note, Facebook told me on the morning of my wedding anniversary 'Happy Anniversary.'
Gen George: Is that when you panicked?
Marshall Hughes: That's when I said 'sorry babe.' But I'm just saying Facebook should have some sort of algorithm that a week before they send me a message saying 'hey, we can see your anniversary's coming up. Here's some restaurants you might wanna book or some gifts you might want to buy your wife.' They should monetize that straight away. That'd be another...that'd restore their bank balance. I also forgot Valentines Day, which was the other one. If Passel had of existed or had of been any bigger, we would've been able to do it. That's [Pukki Poiger 00:07:24].
Marshall Hughes: The other is Pure Baby. They're an organic premium baby wear store and their customers are expectant parents, mothers, and new mums, and people who are buying gifts for those people. They approached us and said, 'if we can deliver straight away, things happen, parents panic. My baby's been born and it's not a double zero or a triple zero or whatever the numbers are. It's a different size and people love giving gifts but it's hard to book that in advance.' I've got five kids, so I know this. The due date is the date your children won't be born, right. If you want to get something delivered to someone, you basically gotta wait until the baby's born to actually book the delivery. Traditional couriers are 35 to 100 bucks for same day delivery. Australia Post is five to seven days so you can't do that in advance. So Pure Baby said 'if we could get our deliveries done instantly, then we will sell more stuff.' And it's proven, so they supported us through beta and now they've asked if we can role them our nationally in the Brisbane and Sydney stores.
Gen George: That's fantastic. What are the clients typically going to look like moving forward, do you think?
Marshall Hughes: That's a really good question. So we know... I've only had one retailer in Australia say 'no.' One retailer who I won't mention, said 'no' [crosstalk 00:08:44] because they thought. Sorry?
Gen George: Just give us their name and address, it's fine.
Marshall Hughes: Their reason for saying no was they thought we'd overwhelm the Click and Collect counter in the store. They thought we'd be so busy that that might cause congestion within the store.
Gen George: That's a positive.
Marshall Hughes: Yeah but, so my background is logistics and I made the mistake early on of pitching this to people who are new from logistics. And I forgot that people in logistics don't like anything that makes their job harder. So I stopped doing that pretty quickly and just talked to e-commerce people. I talked to people who say 'well someone has to answer to the fact that 70% of their shopping cart are getting abandoned online.' It's costing them however much a click, however much to get someone to come to the website and then they're losing 70% of their revenue there. That's the people I talk to now. 
Gen George: So what do you think [crosstalk 00:09:28] Afterpay then?
Marshall Hughes: Beg your pardon?
Gen George: Like businesses like Afterpay? Will that assist you in your conversion rate?
Marshall Hughes: Yes, they would. And if anyone from Afterpay is watching this and would like to get in touch with me, you know where to find me.
Marshall Hughes: Listen, if we can be 10% successful as Afterpay's been in take up in retail, I'll be ridiculously happy. Afterpay's [inaudible 00:09:51] will help you sell because when you get to the shopping checkout, this is a better way to pay than paying by traditional means. Our pitch is for a better way to get your delivery than by traditional means. You said Afterpay, now I'm thinking about it, having an Afterpay.
Marshall Hughes: Only one retailer said no. Everyone else has either said 'come back to us when you prove that it's scaled' or 'come back to us when we can ship from store.' Australia omni-channel retail and the people in our industry will admit this to you are a little bit behind the rest of the world because we had it so good for so long. 
Gen George: Are you finding that the Amazon coming into the Australian market has adapted that or adjusting their thought process?
Marshall Hughes: I think what Amazon has done is all the people in e-commerce, all my friends in e-commerce, who have been trying for the last five years to get someone within their business to listen and say 'we've gotta get a better online experience, but we've been stuffed by the board who said can't we just open up some more stores?' I think the people in e-commerce because of the Amazon effect, the people are all saying 'what are we doing about Amazon' and these people are now pulling out the documents they've been trying to pitch for the last five years saying 'this is what we should be doing about Amazon.'
Marshall Hughes: The experience for Amazon is that it's very easy to read about the retail apocalypse and say 'Amazon is killing stores.' Amazon is killing...helping stores to die that probably should've died anyway. Stores that don't have a brand identity. Stores that didn't have an aggressive e-commerce or omni-channel strategy. Stores that didn't love their customer or tell their customer what they stood for. They're the ones that Amazon are sort of picking off because they we're gonna go anyway. Stores that have a really strong brand identity can engage with their customers and love their customers. They're blossoming. Retail is booming for them. So they're the ones who won.
Marshall Hughes: Apparel, particularly women's apparel, shoes, gift ware. They're the big three that we're targeting. We don't do alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pharmaceuticals or food.
Gen George: Damn. For the first lot, not the food bit. 
Marshall Hughes: Alcohol is really complex delivery. I'm not confident in...I'm not confident about the alcohol delivery industry because I was 18 once and it's very easy to have an adult answer the door and say 'yeah I'll take all this booze' and then hand it off to a whole bunch of 16 year olds. I think there's a responsibility thing there. 
Marshall Hughes: Tobacco, I don't want to kill people. Firearms, we don't want to kill people. Scheduled pharmaceuticals are potentially problematic but there's also a thing at the moment in Australia where you have to exchange a physical script for a delivery. And groceries, I don't want to do Uber Eats because everyone else is doing it. But groceries are quite heavy and there's also you don't want your ice cream delivered three hours late. And we're not an instant delivery service. So we're not 'it's gonna cost you 55 bucks to have this delivery in five minutes.' We're a 'it's gonna cost you $15 bucks and we'll deliver in the next three hours.'
Gen George: What about on Valentines Day if you wanted to send, say a box of donuts, that don't necessarily need that urgency but its like a gift?
Marshall Hughes: Yes. We have had discussions for a couple of those sort of companies. Usually that sort of stuff is packaged in a way that is okay if it doesn't get delivered instantly. Where it's, I don't know what the technical term is, but it's insulated. That's the word. An insulated bag. So you chuck a [inaudible 00:13:05] in an insulated bag or your donuts might be in an insulated bag. 
Marshall Hughes: We're talking to a company called GiftGram which they're about to launch and their target is pretty much that sort of stuff. Flowers is another one. We were talking to Flowerfox. We'll be starting with them pretty soon. They're like a marketplace for florists. Flowers are another thing we're they don't have to be delivered instantly and the flowers can cope for a while but you don't want to be sort of picking up flowers in the morning and then delivering them at 7 o'clock in the evening or anything. Florists apparently have a real problem getting deliveries done on Valentines Day and on Mother's Day. [crosstalk 00:13:41]
Marshall Hughes: No, I come from an industry...anyway. If you book it in advance, apparently you can get the deliveries done but if someone who forgot Valentines Day calls up at 10 o'clock and says 'oh crap, I've forgotten Valentines Day', its basically come and get them if you can. To actually get that delivery done, all the couriers are booked, everyone's [inaudible 00:13:57] that day. So flowers can be interesting, they can be quite exciting and we'll see what happens.
Gen George: What's the team behind Passel then? How did you guys meet and how did you convince people to kind of get behind you with your vision? How did that all come together?
Marshall Hughes: The team is me and Julian [Calabora 00:14:14] who's my co-founder. He and I officially are Passel but there's about another 50 people who help us out. In fact, for the party last night we did a scroll of the thank you's and its like 20 or 30 slides of people we were thanking. There used to be a saying that says 'it takes a village to raise a child' and I'm thinking if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire planet to raise one start up. We're pretty lucky that people have been very generous with their time. A lot of people, if someone says 'hey, can you catch up with Marshall for a cup of coffee?', we'll catch up with Marshall for a cup of coffee. And then I proceed to go, you know. I go proceed to go and allow them to pay it forward in the hopes that at some stage in the future I'm actually successful and I can do the same thing for someone else.
Marshall Hughes: So it's me and Julian. One of our investors, Ben [Bruschella 00:15:04] who's been doing a lot of dev work with us as well. [inaudible 00:15:07] Ray who's a friend of Ben's who's been helping out. Then there's Rich, who's a friend of Ray's, who's also a friend of Ben's who's been helping out. We've got Rebecca Campbell who's been doing our social. Bec's a 20 year old female uni student, so she's right in the target demo for passers which are 20 to 45 year old women. She came and said 'she needed to rescue us from the dad jokes on our Facebook group', 'cause that was me running it and I'm a dad. So Bec's been helping out.
Marshall Hughes: Our investors are we've got [inaudible 00:15:40] Stuart who run's, who's the MD of ActivePipe, who I've known for about 20 years. He invested in us in spite of my pitch deck which at the time was extremely ordinary. I'm not saying it's any better now but it's just, he's been there. Gotta a guy called Neil [inaudible 00:15:55] who is a supply chain consultant and we've got a guy from CircuIT Recruitment. So a tech recruitment company that's invested. We've got guys from ADEPT Project Management who are shopfitterS. They're called angels for a reason.
Gen George: How did you find them all? How did you approach them? How did you pitch them? How did you convince them to believe in you? Or to trust you essentially?
Marshall Hughes: There's one thing that I've got lots of and that is time. And you can pretty much always send one more email. So Gavin knew me already. He'd already agreed. So he owned a transport company and sold it. So I had a, not dissimilar background. I worked in a transport company and then left. But he was sort of an advisor already and I sent him a copy of the pitch deck saying 'I'm going to start talking to investors, what do you think?' And he literally wrote back and he won't like me telling this. He wrote back and said 'No, I'm in for 50 grand.' We're a 2 million dollar pre-money evaluation at the moment, basically based on that's what people keep investing at for no other reason. I've got no metrics to justify that at all. I don't mind putting that out there because everyone I've talked to already knows.
Marshall Hughes: So Gavin invested 50 grand and I called him up because he's a bit of a piss taker and I said 'are you serious? This isn't the time to joke' because I'm a little bit fragile and he goes 'it's worth a punt.' So he was in.
Marshall Hughes: Neil, I knew previously. Ben and [inaudible 00:17:20] who the other investors are friends of Julian, my co-founder. I've got to tell you the Julian story. I'll finish off the investors. [inaudible 00:17:27]. So CircuIT Recruitment, at Christmas time I sent an email that...
Marshall Hughes: Oh, I've got another friend who is a content marketer from the US. Runs a stack of awesome websites like Job Search Digest which gets 50,000 hits a day or something. He helped me write an email because he said 'Marshall, not so much for you with the writing of the emails, but just try and talk to as many people as you can.' So he helped me craft an email which was essentially to all the people I knew telling them exactly what the story was, exactly where we are, and said 'what we need now is some cash, we need some investors, is there anyone we can talk to?' Out of that, we got another 60 grand of angel from the ADEPT guys. That was basically it. 
Marshall Hughes: I sent 350 individual emails between Christmas and New Year. Look, I've got all the mass marketing tools, I've got MailChimp and whatever else but everyone knows that when they come from those sort of tools. So if you really, really want people to talk to you. If I really, really want people to talk to me, I know that I have to sit down and type them an email. I can copy and paste the content in but the email's gotta be from me. It's gotta say 'Hi Gen, it was really good to catch up with you the other day' blah blah blah blah as you know. Then you can tell the story. But if you don't have that sort of first couple of lines. If I don't have those first couple of lines, I know people like to come out of MailChimp or G-Mass and it's just another mailer and it just goes straight to the bin. So that's what I did.
Marshall Hughes: The Julian story. So Julian used to work at company called [Deos 00:18:55]. It's part of the company that built My Freight, the company I used to work for. We met doing that. He's a genius engineer and he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. We met and we sort of stayed in touch. At about 12 months ago now, I still didn't have a co-founder. I have what they call domain experience which means I know about the industry but I don't anything about tech and I kept getting told 'Marsh, you need a co-founder and you need a tech guy or girl.' But then they said 'don't rush because this is like a marriage, because once you're got your co-founder and everything's happening it's really, really hard to get out of.' So you've got you really need a co-founder but don't rush.
Marshall Hughes: So I'm like 'I don't even know who to talk to.' So I started talking to people. I then have got a friend called Ellie who runs ZippyCrowd and I caught up with her for coffee and I was whinging about the fact that I didn't have a co-founder and she said 'you already know who the co-founder is. You just don't know, you're not looking for the right person.' And so we sat down and in 15 minutes she found Julian. And she goes 'what about this guy?' And Julian's worked at a couple of start ups. He's a [inaudible 00:19:54] engineer. He used to be a high rise window cleaner. Like you know the people who scaffold off buildings, so he's not risk [inaudible 00:20:01] right. He worked through the MAP accelerator program, Melbourne Accelerator Program. So I dropped him line and said 'would you be interested?'. We caught up, we had a bit of a chat. Then in July when he came onboard as my co-founder, so that was pretty good.
Gen George: Very exciting, that's awesome. How's the journey been then from saying 'okay, let's get married' to where you are now?
Marshall Hughes: The day, July 1, when he was officially the co-founder-
Gen George: You remember that anniversary but you have to get your wife's one tattooed on your arm?
Marshall Hughes: That's harsh. There's no one person who will not be watching this interview, should it ever go public. With the whole my wife and the anniversary thing, I stopped doing social by Valentines Day. Bec throws out a post the day before Valentines Day saying 'hey, if you've forgotten Valentines Day, it's not too late. You can buy stuff from [Pooki Poiger 00:20:53] and deliver it straight away.' So my wife [Jackie 00:20:56] says to me the next day, 'you literally put a Facebook post out saying if you've forgotten Valentines Day.' And I go 'no, it wasn't me! It was Bec' and I was like you're supposed to take responsibility, that's why I'm no longer the CEO because I don't want to take the responsibilities. 
Marshall Hughes: You distracted me. What was I talking about?
Gen George: So how's it been with the-
Marshall Hughes: Julian?
Gen George: Bromance?
Marshall Hughes: So July 1. Suddenly if anyone's gone from what I've from. From being a solo to having a co-founder, they will understand the feeling that suddenly that is just so more real. It's like shit just got real because there's someone who's in the trench with me who I can tell exactly the truth to. And everyone gets the truth but sometimes you don't volunteer unnecessary information. But with Jules it's like everything's an open book. Suddenly I got someone who understands and now over time. What are we in now? 10 months in? He's not just the tech guy. He's got some really good business experience as well. When we disagree, there's really good discussions. It's really robust discussions about why. How is this optimizing user experience? How is this helping our retailers sell more because that's...if it doesn't help a retailer sell more, then there's nothing [inaudible 00:22:01]. W
Marshall Hughes: We've just gone through sort of four months of app development. And obviously not being the tech guy, I've just got to trust that the tech's working. But then we're having discussions [inaudible 00:22:11] that works. It's been pretty good. We've got a pretty good split. I say he does all the working, I do all the talking which is pretty much how it works out so that's why I'm talking to you and not him. Because he's actually working right now, doing some react native rubbish. 
Gen George: Perfect. That's an important part of the business, right? You can have the best idea in the world and the right time in the market but unless you have the right team driving that, you've got no hope of pulling that together. Have you seen any other great teams that you know have been successful?
Marshall Hughes: I was really proud of the team at My Freight, my old company. We had a process where we just hired good people and then taught them what they needed to know. I don't know. I don't want to be all 21st century management, but if you want to build a great team then you've got to get awesome people and then let them do their stuff. At the end of the day, someone sometimes has to make the decision like 'do we have a red button or a green button?' And you make a decision but you back the people who you've empowered to look at that. Like you don't hire a UX consultant or a UX person and put them in your team and then when they say 'it should be a red button and it should be over here', then tell them 'no, it shouldn't be' because that's just rubbish. If I knew everything...well no one knows everything...
Marshall Hughes: So I was a part of really good teams and I think I just try and sort of remember everything we did really, really well at My Freight and we try and sort of replicate the feeling of how it felt to make a decision. Do the decisions feel right? How did it feel to listen? How'd it feel to disagree? And try and re-do that. I think that's the answer to your question.
Gen George: Yeah, no, perfect. What's the biggest challenge you guys have experienced so far and what did you learn from it?
Marshall Hughes: I hate to be the guy but the biggest... We've raised $180,000 right, but it's not enough yet and because we've sort of raised over 16 months, it's sort of been a bit of...not dribs and drabs but its just got us to the next short term milestone. The biggest challenge has been that I spent too much of my time talking to people about fundraising. And I say that with all due respect to all the [inaudible 00:24:14] and whoever else but most of them would agree with me that founder's spend too much time worrying about where the money's coming from. Julian and I are both in our 40's. I've got five kids, he's got 2. Both got mortgages. We don't have the luxury of literally bootstrapping it. So the biggest challenge has been sort of... I know this is going to work and I've drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid but getting the data to back that up has been a challenge. So we think we'll get that over the next few months so I hope to stop talking to anyone about money. 
Gen George: What are the key metrics that you guys measure? What are your economics?
Marshall Hughes: Oh, we're about to change them all! So that's a really good thing. The key metric for us is...the key metric has to be something that you can control that actually contributes to your success. So its no good having a number that says [inaudible 00:25:01] if no one cares and it doesn't contribute to success. So our key metrics are around our average delivery time is 2 hours and 8 minutes. So we're a business that guarantees a 3 hour delivery so it's really important that we're delivering in less than 3 hours. We've only had one delivery that was outside that time and that's because we used our emergency fallback position of another courier and they let us down, so there's lessons to be learned in that. So 2 hours 8 is really, really key for us because we go 'that's important' because if we're not delivering in 3 hours then we don't have a business. 
Gen George: [inaudible 00:25:32]
Marshall Hughes: Now because we've actually got some passers downloading the app and launching, we're looking at things like downloads. So I guess the journey for a passer is they download the app, that's great, you downloaded the app. Then they have to sign up so what percentage of people are not signing up and if they're not signing up, why aren't they signing up? Once they sign up, we still need to validate that they are a real person with a real house or a real address, so there's another step. So it's a 3 step process which everyone who's out there who knows what I'm doing is saying 'oh my god Marshall, you're trying to set yourself up to fail with the 3 step process.' Yes, but it's really important that we can trust the people who are doing the deliveries. Key metric downloads, key metric then signups, then activation. So how do we improve that?
Marshall Hughes: Obviously once we start doing deliveries that scale we'll start talking about it but it's a bit of a vanity metric. You know, how many deliveries did you do? We could have the world's best delivery company, but unless our customers actually sell some stuff we won't do any. So don't worry about what you can't control, so I'm not really worried about deliveries as a metric at this stage though at some stage I'll J curve it and we'll be able to show '[inaudible 00:26:36] and then we doubled. We're a 100% month on month growth.' You've seen all the slides. For us, it's really getting the passers on board which is what I'm going to be all about this week. That's probably the biggest, most important thing to us right now. 
Gen George: Yep, that's fantastic. What do you think are the things you're gonna have to really focus on to make sure that that is successful? Like have you got particular tools that you're using or I don't know, are you literally running down the street with posters?
Marshall Hughes: We've tried everything to recruit passers including a pop-up in a shopping center which was two grand not well spent. Flyer deliveries so we delivered 400 flyers and got one person to sign up from that, so not a good use of our time. We've spent money...so before Christmas Pure Baby launched for this before Christmas from all their Melbourne stores which was beautiful of them because that's the worst time of year to launch a new delivery service. What we did then, we needed to get a whole bunch of passers in a hurry and we know, we spent about a grand just on targeted Facebook ads and got about 350 people to sign up in that one week period [inaudible 00:27:44]. We're only targeting a 15 kilometer radius around shopping centers, not every shopping center, 18 to 45 year old women. So we know that if we spend that money, we can a [inaudible 00:27:54] passer uptake. We [inaudible 00:27:56] how little we can spend to get the passers. We'll use the Channel 7 stuff from last night.
Gen George: How did you get that spot? You know, PR's always an interesting conversation for start-ups? Is it just fluff pieces but it obviously added direct impact on your numbers, so how did you get it?
Marshall Hughes: My honest answer to that is I feel we were lucky. If you ask everyone else who knows us, they'll say 'it's because he did all the hard work [inaudible 00:28:19]', so you found me because...I'm a terrible self-promoter or a really good self-promoter?
Gen George: Very good. 
Marshall Hughes: [crosstalk 00:28:29]. So The Founder Institute guys when I did the course they said 'that no one will ever hear about you if you're not actually willing to tell your story.' So we've been doing things blogging every fortnight for the last year, pushing out a whole bunch of content through LinkedIn, Facebook, and whatever else so we're just making some noise. There's a bit of an echo in the start up community that if you get lucky enough or you can make enough noise to get in one article in one of the blogs, the other ones will usually pick you up. One of the start up blogs picked me up when I went to Silicon Valley for a week last year as part of the FI thing and that got a little bit of noise. That sort of...what's the word when there's a feedback loop? That's the word. Is it a feedback loop? Literally, a feedback loop.
Marshall Hughes: So that got some noise. Then a website called the Martec, which is M-A-R-T-E-C, did a top 40 start ups in Melbourne and they had Afterpay and all this and us, so that's like, you know, we're in ridiculous company. Their website and I tell them this, I get one to two hits a day on our website from that article that is over a year old. So their SEO, if you're looking to hire for SEO, steal their guy or girl because that was just nuts. They just released another one which is the top 50 start ups in Melbourne and we made that list so I expect now that will create some traction from that. 
Marshall Hughes: Where else do we get it from? I've gotten some logistics magazines, some logistics blogs just because we're freight and freight's a pretty small environment. There's a podcast called The Post Club Podcast and the guy who runs that loves what we're doing and he's had me back for two interviews. What else is there?
Gen George: And what do you listen to? As a leader, you've got to keep learning and evolving so you know what things you should be testing out next? What do you listen to or read? Or who do you listen to?
Marshall Hughes: Okay, so this an open and honest discussion. I went really, really deep-
Gen George: That is being recorded, just to remind you.
Marshall Hughes: Oh no, I was just [inaudible 00:30:27]. I went really, really...Not only was I drinking the Passel Kool-Aid for the first year but I was also drinking the start up environment ecosystem Kool-Aid. So I was going to lots of meet ups, lots of people doing stuff and whatever else, and what happened is I suddenly realized after a while I kept talking to [crosstalk 00:30:48], not necessarily the same people, but all the people were saying the same things. And I needed to be out talking to my customers, not necessarily talking to people who were in the same boat as me. I know that probably sounds...oh it should sound alright. Like I'm a business, and I'm trying to sell something to retailers, I need to be out talking to retailers. So I sorta stopped doing start up and I stopped listening to start up podcasts and I stopped reading all the start up. A lot of the start up blogs are funding, that's the main thing. Got funding, got funded, got funded and that's not really telling me anything because I know how to get funded I'm just not very good at it. You know I haven't met the right person or the right time yet so I stopped doing that.
Marshall Hughes: What I listen to in answer to your question - lots of mass media. I've gone the other way. Lots of mass media. So what are the mass media people talking about, what's reverberating through that, and retail like keeps hitting, so the Amazon thing et cetera. I needed to be a bit more relevant so I've stopped listening those sort of things. I've gone back to more traditional stuff. There's a book called Pitch Anything which is hands down the best sales book ever written. I'll send you the [inaudible 00:31:58] of that. Sorry?
Gen George: Why do you think it's the best one?
Marshall Hughes: Oh sorry I missed that.
Gen George: Why do you think it's the best one?
Marshall Hughes: The guy, Oren Klaff, who wrote it. Pitch Anything, you've got to listen to it in Audible for like three bucks. It's really cheap. It's just different, it's different to whatever everyone tells you to do. It's about pitching to emotion, not pitching to logic which if you talk to enough people they realize that the... So a pitch deck right, we've all got a pitch decks. Mine's not very good but a pitch deck, you're gonna send it to someone who says 'you should talk to this guy'. He sends the pitch deck, you've got like a minute to capture their attention and if it looks like everyone else's pitch deck you won't get in there, so how do you do your pitch deck a little bit different? So he talks about that sort of stuff.
Marshall Hughes: Pitch Anything is a fascinating study because he has a method and it's not until about 70 to 80% of the way through the book, you realize that he applies his method to the book. And that as you're going through he's actually pitching you his method as he's going along and it's like 'oh, now I get it!'. So listen to Pitch Anything again. I'd probably go back and do the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People again, the Stephen Covey book. That's a really good one to read and revisit because Covey wrote it in his 50s, so he wasn't like a guy who thought this might work. He was a guy who could prove it worked. It's 30 years old now and it's sort of a nexus point where Steven Covey distilled everything that happened up to this point and got it into one book and pretty much 90% of the productivity literature for the last 30 years has just been a re-hash of his work. I think that's a really good one to read. 
Marshall Hughes: The other thing I listen to and I know we're going to [inaudible 00:33:35], there's an app called BorrowBox that is a library app for Audible, audio books and e-books.
Gen George: Really?
Marshall Hughes: So if you live in Australia, your local library could well be a member of BorrowBox. You download the app and then you get to read e-books and audio books for free. They're like normal library books so you can only have one copy of that audio book at one time, so not everyone can be reading the book. But to be honest, I'm actually listening to Star Wars books at the moment because you get too deep. Sorry?
Gen George: Why not right? You're defending the galaxy, the logistics and Passel galaxy. 
Marshall Hughes: No, but I'm actually reading because they're nothing to do with work. And they're nothing to do with everything that's going on and sometimes it's just that psychological break to say 'oh okay, now I'm not gonna [crosstalk 00:34:30]. You go to bed and bed's like the last place...your brain's suddenly goes 'aw there are all the things you did wrong today and these are all the things that are going to go wrong tomorrow'. Seriously, we had the Channel 7 thing last night, it wasn't until 6:26 and it actually started that I relaxed and said 'Okay, it's definitely going to be on.' [crosstalk 00:34:51] the Americans are bombing Syria. What happens if something really bad happens and we get bumped and I've got people here at launch party to come and watch nothing? I was losing sleep over that and it's dumb right, because I couldn't do anything to influence whether the Americans are gonna bomb Syria. 
Gen George: Yeah, 100%. [crosstalk 00:35:09] is a big issue that actually doesn't get spoken about a lot, so how do you give yourself headspace? So reading Star Wars books, what else do you do?
Marshall Hughes: Five kids. 
Gen George: Yup.
Marshall Hughes: Kids are fascinating. Anyone who has been a child or is one or has them, is kids don't care about what just happened or whats going to happen. Except around Christmas and birthdays. But kids are like little zen Buddhist masters. They absolutely live in the moment so I will take my daughter to the zoo and she will say 'this the best day of my life' and she's five. Because for her it's the best day of her life because she can't really remember what happened two days ago. I've got a five month old daughter, and a five year old daughter and three teenage boys and all of them require some space of time where if I'm thinking about something else, I'm going to miss something really, really important. With the teenage boys, it could be something really important and really bad. But with the daughter, it could be, you know...one day she couldn't roll over and the next day she could roll over. That's like really, really exciting. So a bit of that.
Marshall Hughes: I'm supposed to be exercising but I haven't been because I'm staying up too late and whatever else. Oh, Netflix! That's how I take my mind off stuff. Netflix should be called 'Nicheflix' because there is absolutely something for everyone. I just binged the original Star-Trek series. All 57 episodes or whatever it is anyway. [crosstalk 00:36:31] Sorry?
Gen George: What window did you do that over?
Marshall Hughes: Ah, sleep's overrated. Don't believe all the new age 'you gotta have eight hours sleep a night' rubbish. You get up at 5:30 if you've gone to bed at 11:30. That's six hours sleep, that's plenty. But also because my baby's...my wife's still breastfeeding obviously. She's going to bed early so she can get up two or three times a night. When she goes to bed, I get to watch like one episode of Star-Trek or something. 
Gen George: Fair enough, so no negotiations then? So I ask everyone this question - if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Marshall Hughes: I already have a superpower Gen. My superpower is I always get good parking spots. No, don't worry about it. You and I, when I'm in Sydney and we go out and we go somewhere, and we don't Uber it 'cause [inaudible 00:37:15]. If we need a parking spot, I will get you a parking spot and it's always a good parking spot. So that's my super power. 

Gen George: I'm going to hold you to that. 
Marshall Hughes: So if I had another one, I don't want to be greedy. If I had another superpower...that's a really good question. Maybe teleportation. 
Gen George: Right.

Marshall Hughes: So the physical ability for me to, not be in two places at the same time, but to be somewhere else really, really quickly and not lose that time. So I live in Frankston which is 45 kilometers out of the CBD and it's Melbourne so everyone else is in Melbourne or Richmond, which is basically an hour away. I'm either on the train working or in the car listening to Star Wars novels. 

Gen George: [inaudible 00:38:01] watching Star-Trek and Star Wars if teleportation is your thing, right? Do you know what I'm thinking about is coming up to the spaceship yeah?
Marshall Hughes: Yeah but I probably just find time to read maybe more by [inaudible 00:38:12] my place. That's a good point. No, teleportation would be my superpower if I was to add one to my ability to always get a good parking spot.

Gen George: You should get a cape or something so people realize you have one.
Marshall Hughes: I'm wearing a start up sleeveless vest and a black t-shirt. People know I've got a start up [inaudible 00:38:29].

Gen George: Start up. Well thank you so much. Really appreciate your time, good luck with the rest of the year with your start up and look forward to keeping in contact. 
Marshall Hughes: Thank you very much Gen. Really appreciate it. See ya!