Have you ever head an idea and immediately thought, “That is brilliant!”
It recently happened to me as I was emceeing an awards event for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The award was Entrepreneur of the Year, and the winner was Brenda Stoner and her team at PICKUP™. What caught my attention – and the attention of everyone in the room – was this description of the company: PICKUP™ gives you a pickup truck in your pocket. (They provide pickup trucks on demand for hauling your stuff. It’s the pickup truck version of Uber and Lyft.)
Disrupting existing industries and business models makes the products and services we know faster, better, cheaperand friendlier. That’s important, but it potentially puts people on the receiving end of that change out of work.
PICKUP™ monetizes something that traditionally has been free, random or non-existent. The guy who hauls stuff in his truck on the side for extra income may lose out, but no one really wants an uninsured person they don’t know hauling their stuff.
The main people affected by PICKUP’s service are your relatives and friends who you constantly bother to borrow their truck. Trust me, they won’t mind.
Companies that create something new are the ultimate examples of entrepreneurial innovation. I sat down with Stoner to learn more about her company. An hour later, I walked away with four strategies that everyone can use to find, launch and nourish their next great idea.
- Keep your eyes open for what is and isn’t around you.
Stoner needed a pickup truck and another set of hands to move items a few miles. Hiring movers didn’t make sense because the load wasn’t that large. Imposing on a friend wasn’t an option. Renting a vehicle was a possibility, but that didn’t solve the problem of needing help loading and unloading.
Stoner noticed all of the offices, businessesand residences that might be in a similar situation as she drove the busy Dallas North Tollway. She also noticed a lot of pickup trucks. They would be hard to miss. One out of every sixfull-sized trucks sold in the United States is purchased in Texas.
- Solve the problem the customer wants solved.
Your customers will come up with endless applications if you give them a reliable and trusted solution. Large purchases that won’t fit in your car are the tip of the on-demand pickup iceberg. The company has helped people who have been evicted and forced to leave their apartment, needed assistance with college move-in dayor needed emergency bulk trash pickup. One customer grew tired on a long bicycle ride and called to be given a ride home. Some people don’t even need the truck. They just want a second set of hands to help them move something in their home – like the furniture. The solution PICKUP™ provides isn’t unlimited, but they have intentionally built a business that lets the customers’ imagination take flight.
- Maintain a disciplined bias for action.
The idea for Stoner’s company was born in May 2014. The start-up’s first truck hit the road in January 2015. During that time, issues such as building mobile and desktop apps, gauging supply and demand, hiring and vetting drivers, securing insurance, branding and marketing had to be completed. Doing all of that in seven months requires discipline and action. Eleven months later, the company now has dozens of trucks operating in the sprawling Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with plans to expand … eventually to a national footprint.
- Build it right from the outset.
Uber and Lyft drop you at the curb. PICKUP™ enters your home. Contracting with “good guys” takes on even greater importance. The company’s drivers are off-duty firefighters, military personneland military veterans who have been screened and vetted to the highest extent possible.
Stoner assumes that they are building a national brand. She knows that if it doesn’t work small, it won’t work big. That’s why she has been intentional about planned expansion.
Most important, Stoner and her team are fanatics about the culture. They are a White Hat company that hires the right people who are totally committed to doing right by customers. That principle of good people doing right by people guides every decision and action.
Start-ups that disrupt existing business models are interesting. Those that create new categories of service inspire. And at the end of the day, we need more inspiring.