Logistics management software company GetSwift opens IPO

GetSwift, an Australian-founded New York-based fleet management software company, is looking to list on the Australian Securities Exchange by Christmas.
Written by Tas Bindi, Contributor

GetSwift Ltd, the holding company that owns Australian-founded startup GetSwift, has opened up its initial public offering (IPO), according to a prospectus lodged with ASIC on October 26.

According to the prospectus, 25 million shares are being issued at AU$0.20, bringing the total amount to be raised to AU$5 million.

Currently headquartered in New York, GetSwift was founded in 2015 by three Australian footballers Joel Macdonald, Rohan Bail, and James Strauss. Prior to GetSwift, the trio had founded a liquor delivery service called Liquorun, but decided to abandon the front end of the service and focus on the logistics management platform behind it. The logistics management platform then became the standalone entity GetSwift.

Today, GetSwift is a last-mile logistics management platform that allows businesses to manage delivery fulfilment. The platform is being used in over 300 cities across 55 countries around the world.

According to the prospectus, GetSwift experienced 20 percent month-on-month growth this year in terms of number of transactions; and reports a total growth of over 400 percent from January to September.

Executive chairman Bane Hunter told ZDNet that there are four reasons why GetSwift is choosing to become a publicly-listed company. The first is to provide full transparency to existing and prospective customers.

He said one of the advantages of being public is that it allows companies to instantly gain credibility and respect. Prospective clients, especially large ones like government departments and large enterprises, give more credence to suppliers of products and services when they're public companies.

"What has always held us back to some extent was the due diligence process when interacting with large enterprises, especially as a startup. They do due diligence on companies, products, and people," Hunter told ZDNet.

"We thought the easiest way to provide full transparency is by being a public company. Any questions [prospects] have in regards to viability will be answered."

The second reason, Hunter explained, was the underlying sense across Australia's startup ecosystem that local companies cannot use local funding to roll out on a global scale. He said there are some local VCs and financiers who don't want their money going overseas.

Hunter pointed out, however, that there is a significant difference in market size between Australia and the US, and that emerging startups should be encouraged to think globally.

Thirdly, reflecting on the company's previous experiences with raising equity investment, Hunter said going public was a more sound choice for GetSwift.

"We had plenty of offers from VCs in the US. But the costliest lesson that any startup can actually learn is to be very careful with what comes attached with the capital [they raise], and what kind of partners they're going to get on the cap table. We've learned a number of lessons," Hunter said.

Lastly, Hunter and Macdonald both said going public will allow the company to contract the time it takes to scale.

Macdonald highlighted that the company doesn't necessarily need capital; it operates in a "very lean" manner with less than 10 staff globally.

Currently, GetSwift operates on a pay-as-you-go model, charging on a per transaction basis -- there are no setup or ongoing maintenance costs, or contracts. The prices are tiered/discounted based on the volume or enterprise level of the company.

GetSwift has also been growing across industry verticals. As of September, it's been used in over 40 verticals including food delivery and medical cannabis distribution in the US. Hunter also said 100 percent of enterprise prospects that were presented with proofs-of-concept had converted to clients.

"It was important for us to be agnostic in terms of verticals. We see a lot of competitors that tend to focus on specific verticals ... to reach the maximum amount of people across the maximum number of verticals, we would need our product to be agnostic," Hunter said.

GetSwift's first major enterprise customer was Instacart in 2015. It has since signed deals with Quick Service Restaurant Holdings (QSRH) in Australia, which owns Red Rooster, Oporto, and Chicken Treat, as well as Mitre 10. It also partnered with UK-based JustEat, which now owns two of Australia's largest online food ordering businesses Menulog and EatNow. The company also includes Guy and Gallard and Australian food and beverage distributor Lion Nathan as customers.

"A lot of companies come to us saying that their support reps are getting up to 50 calls per day, for example, from milk bar owners wondering where their drinks are. The field rep might take up to 25 minutes to locate the driver if he picks up the phone and then another five minutes to relay that message back to the milk bar. What companies are keen to do is consolidate that overhead," said Macdonald.

While they're proud of the progress they've made, Hunter and Macdonald are adamant about staying grounded, appreciating that they're an Australian-founded company, and not making unrealistic claims about the future.

"We don't believe in hype. We believe in facts. We believe in data. Aside from technology being in the cloud, we do not believe in having our heads in the cloud," Hunter said.

While they did not reveal GetSwift's product roadmap, Hunter and Macdonald said they're always keeping a close eye on, and evaluating opportunities to use, emergent technologies like drones and autonomous vehicles.

"From a startup perspective, it's not enough to be incrementally better. You're going to go up against some behemoths out there that are better funded than you, have much larger teams, and quite frankly have more expertise in terms of how the market operates. You have to be quantifiably better," Hunter said.

"For us, it's not about coming out with fancy new product features or product enhancements. It's about understanding our customers, their constraints, their business objectives, and the timeframe they have to achieve those objectives. That allows us to go back and tailor the product. That's how we're maintaining growth."

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