Getting to Know You: Seb Robert, CEO & Founder of Gophr

<div>Getting to Know You: Seb Robert, CEO & Founder of Gophr</div>
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In this exclusive Q&A with Seb Robert, the founder of Gophr, Business Matters magazine delves into the journey behind the innovative courier service that's redefining same-day delivery.

In this exclusive Q&A with Seb Robert, the founder of Gophr, Business Matters magazine delves into the journey behind the innovative courier service that’s redefining same-day delivery.

Seb shares the inspiration sparked by the early days of smartphone apps like Hailo and his frustration with unreliable couriers, leading him to create a solution that places people at the center. From his admiration for pioneering figures to his candid reflections on mistakes and the core values that shape his business approach, Seb offers valuable insights for aspiring entrepreneurs and industry veterans alike.

What was the inspiration behind Gophr?

“Remember Hailo? It’s now been acquired and overtaken by the likes of Uber but back in 2011, the black cab app gave a glimpse of what was possible with smartphones – that ability to match up customers with a service. It was before its time but was a sign of what was to come.

“I was also so frustrated by the lack of good courier experiences. There were no good, reliable couriers. It was crap. Things getting lost, late, having no idea when they were going to arrive. Eventually, I got so frustrated that I decided to sort it out myself and take on a fundamentally broken system to develop something better.

“Problem was, I had no experience in the world of delivery. My background was in music and media. So I had to get to work on researching – from the perspective of the client, the courier and the customer – talking to as many people as I possibly could. I even got on the bike myself to see what it was really like as a courier.

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“Then I took those learnings and experiences and used them to inform what Gophr would look like. And it still leads us to this day.”

Who do you admire?

“Jonas Salk – an American virologist and medical researcher who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines whilst overcoming many hardships to do so.

“Then there is Tim Berners-Lee – best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. Talk about changing the world!

“And also, Frederick Banting & Charles Best – the discoverers of insulin.”

Why?

“These people all had a profound effect on the world and ultimately made it a better place to live in – It’s not every day that we get to see that happen. I think that anyone who creates something truly groundbreaking and then gives it away for free for the good of humanity is worthy of anyone’s praise.”

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

“I think I could write a dissertation on everything I’ve done wrong. I probably read 10 times as much as I could write on mistakes other people made that I still ended up making myself anyway so I guess there’s simply no substitute for experience.

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“Other than that, nothing frankly, as life has a way of teaching you by pressing you on your weak spots and there’s no amount of anyone telling you, that’s going to be as effective as the pain of taking that rake to the face.”

What defines your way of doing business?

“Aiming to be trustworthy, principled, competent and kind whenever possible is within everything that we do. There are times when you are forced down roads you’d rather not go down because not everyone is aligned around those principles or others have their own rules in place that don’t allow you to follow the vision you want to deliver. But that’s life.”

“When it comes to our mission, we want to reimagine same-day delivery to make it work better for everyone involved; more efficient for businesses, more convenient for their customers, and more profitable for couriers. The delivery business, particularly last-mile, is still a people business and we put people at the centre of everything we do.

“We have built the Gophr business model around professional couriers and thinking about what we can do to make their lives easier. The quality of the courier is crucial. Just because you have a bike, a van or a car doesn’t mean you’ll make a good courier. You need that specialist knowledge, you need that personal touch (the doorstep experience is something that we pride ourselves on) and you need the right attitude.”

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What advice would you give to someone starting out?

“Know the space you’re getting into! And know your plan inside out.”

“I didn’t have any previous experience in the courier industry so I started by getting introductions so I could get a sense of how the industry works. I tapped up friends, family, acquaintances, and even some enemies. Just to get an in. To get into the reeds and find the sweet spot where my idea could make a difference.

“And be really clear and super detailed about what the destination is from the outset. And make that very clear to everyone you’re getting involved. You don’t need to be prescriptive about how you get there, just what the destination is.

“And also take your time. The window of opportunity to launch your business is open longer than you think. If you have a shit hot idea, then you can afford to take your time, do your homework and then when you launch, you’ll have an even better chance of success.”

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Getting to Know You: Seb Robert, CEO & Founder of Gophr

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