INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Derk Van Der Have shares with us how Brenger is navigating through this pandemic and handling its operations
First of all, how are you and your Family doing in these COVID-19 Times?
Derk van der Have: Luckily, we’re still all in good health.
Tell us about you, your Career, how you Founded or Joined Brenger
Derk van der Have: I completed my Masters in International Political Economics at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, after which I undertook an internship at Heineken in Global Commerce Innovation. I knew my co-founder, Wisse Koedam, from university in Groningen. Together we had several ideas, but the Brenger concept was born when Wisse’s girlfriend’s mom forgot her phone in Doetinchem. She did not live close by, so could not just drive by to pick it up, but wanted her phone back as soon as possible.
Wisse began searching online for a delivery company or individual that could deliver the phone, but he didn’t find any.This was when the delivery service idea was born.
We began by doing research and soon found out that there was a similar service in the UK, but we were told not to hold back and set up this service in the Netherlands.
We started doing field research to find out if such a concept could work. We approached people at petrol stations and asked if someone needs a parcel to be delivered at a fee. We also gathered information about platforms selling second-hand items such as Marktplaats so that we could partner with them. The feedback we received from experienced entrepreneurs motivated us to pitch to investors seeking funding.
In October 2016, we launched our website, although it started very simple. Customers could fill a form detailing what they want to be transported or delivered. The form was emailed to us, and then we could ask our contacts and friends whether there was anyone interested in delivering the parcel, or we could do it ourselves. Later we would call each customer to get feedback about the service in order to improve.
In February 2017, we upgraded our website. Brenger also began marketing campaigns, which led to exponential growth. As a result, the bookings rose from 40 to 80 to 120 a month, in three consecutive months. The growth confirmed to investors that the concept was working; thus, we received the second round of investments, to support Brenger’s expansion and grow the team.
In January 2018, Brenger reached an important milestone, where we launched a collaboration with “Marktplaats”, the biggest second-hand trading platform in the Netherlands. The partnership expedited Brenger’s growth due to increased exposure, enabling Brenger to come into contact with more customers.
Initially, we contracted individuals to transport the parcels, but later we engaged professional couriers and agreed on the delivery charges. Today, we have grown and are working with large furniture brands like IKEA.
How does Brenger Innovate?
Derk van der Have: We continuously gather feedback from customers, couriers, and our staff. This allows us to improve our service and gives us access to a wide array of ideas. We have a very open culture and quite a flat hierarchy, so if someone has an idea, it is heard, and often the action is taken quite quickly.
We have a fantastic development team that can build new features quickly. Everyone is also very motivated and flexible, so we can change and adapt quickly.
Through internal communication channels, we encourage our employees to share their ideas and feedback they have gathered. We then take action on these points. This results in continuous improvement and adaptation. We also encourage our employees to network and have set a budget for books. The aim is to allow our employees to learn and grow intellectually as well as look at problems with a critical eye and come up with innovative solutions.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic affects your Business, and how are you Coping?
Derk van der Have: As for most companies, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic brought uncertainty to their day-to-day operations and future. Luckily, we did not experience major backlash from the pandemic and the restrictions that followed. Actually, our sales improved now that travels were restricted but the movement of goods was allowed.
We also had the right infrastructure in place for all employees to continue working from home and put some new processes in place to facilitate good communication.
Slowly, employees were able to return to work, but for some working from home was very convenient. Therefore, we now offer more flexibility with regards to working from home and the office.
Did you have to make Difficult Choices, and what are the Lessons Learned?
Derk van der Have: Of course, there have been difficult decisions on the way. When coronavirus started, we made several financial decisions, stopped hiring, and unfortunately also had to let 2 people go. Luckily, this changed quickly with bigger growth than before.
How do you deal with Stress and Anxiety? How do you Project yourself and Brenger in the Future?
Derk van der Have: At Brenger, we aim to be very transparent. We believe this is very important for our team to achieve our ambitious goals. We want everyone to be confident, open to each other, and offer constructive feedback.
So this creates an atmosphere where everyone knows what is happening and what needs to be improved. Therefore, each individual has an opportunity to improve and perform better as a team. Through this continuous hunger for improvement and growth, I hope we will be able to take over and positively change the transport or delivery market.
Brenger was started with the ambition to become one of the biggest logistics companies in Europe and globally. So as a company and team, we are very ambitious and want Brenger to grow. To grow big and expand across Europe, what we are doing is not yet enough.
To get there, we need to look at how we can improve our operation, mission, and strategy. To reach our goals, I always encourage everyone at Brenger to ask for assistance and be open to feedback. I want to continue to celebrate wins together with the team and use losses as learning lessons to guide the next training sessions.
Who are your Competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the Game?
Derk van der Have: The logistics industry is changing rapidly as a result of great development. We focus on the transport of bulky goods. Our competitors are vans and trailers that people use to transport their goods. However, this option is costly and time-consuming.
The traditional logistic companies are our major competitors when it comes to the delivery of bulky goods for corporates. They engage in parcel delivery, and have their truck or have formed a partnership with them.
As previously mentioned, we continuously gather feedback and take new ideas on board, together with our skilled workforce; this allows us to innovate, develop, and improve quickly. Actively seeking to develop new and better ways to provide our customers with the best service and our couriers with the best tools will set us up for great things.
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