Hi, I’m Adam.
Prior to founding Pony Deluxe I co-founded DeskBeers. DeskBeers delivers craft beers and stuff to offices. It was pretty great. Then coronavirus hit and our business evaporated overnight. I quickly found myself furloughed and unable to work on DeskBeers anymore. So I did what any software developer would do in this situation - I shut myself away from the family and furiously started building a logistics platform.
Ok, maybe not everyone’s first instinct would be to build a logistics platform. But I saw something happening that we’d experienced at DeskBeers. Overnight, all our brewery suppliers spun up Shopify stores and started offering “free delivery to homes within five miles of the tap room” or similar. This was because they, too, had found all their usual routes to market cut off due to lockdown, and when you have a load of beer in tank, well, it’s gotta go somewhere.
I just knew what was happening in those stock rooms and warehouses. Ops managers poring over spreadsheets trying to figure out which driver should take what orders, what a vaguely sensible route might be, printing off delivery notes, drivers losing sheets or spilling a petrol station coffee over everything, the customer not being home when they tried to deliver, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
All the same problems DeskBeers experienced when we started doing our own deliveries. Been there, done that.
Of course this wasn’t happening only at breweries, either. The same happened for all sorts of previously “off-line” businesses. Our local coffee shop started shipping groceries ordered online. We could get bread delivered from the bakery on the highstreet. Even the local off-licence was making deliveries now. What a time to be alive.
Local stores have something Amazon will never have. They are already part of our communities. They are already near you. They may already even know you. Not in a CRM, but really know you. Perhaps they send their kids to the same school as yours or whatever. Because of this, local businesses can provide a level of service Amazon could never match - faster delivery, knowledgeable staff, friendly service. All the usual things that make our local shops and services ours.
Yet Amazon still vacuums up the vast majority of online shopping. Everyone buying the same shit from the same place, day in, day out, making the same dude richer. You can’t fault them - Amazon have done an awesome job of making it quick and easy to buy just about anything.
But where’s the community in that?
If we want to keep our local communities, we have to arm ourselves with the tools we need to fight back.
Clearly, then, logistics is only a small part of the problem. But it’s a start. To even stand a chance of competing online, independent businesses need good logistics systems and processes. They don’t need to manage fleets of vehicles over multiple continents like FedEx. Nor do they need to send every parcel going five minutes down the road by overnight courier. They need to be able to serve the communities they are part of, just as they always have.
And that’s exactly what Pony Deluxe is. Simple, boring software to make delivering stuff easier. A way to tell drivers what to deliver, to whom, when, without someone having to spend ages staring at spreadsheets and Google Maps to figure it all out.
It’s not about trying to take over the world. It’s not about seeking a Brazillion dollars in funding in exchange for 20% of the business. It’s not about fancy bells and whistles that look great in a pitch deck but are never used in practice. It’s about making working software for working people. It's about taking care of the fortune five million, not the Fortune 500. And if I can do that with a rainbow-unicorn-pony for a logo, then so much the better.
Amazon will still be here when this pandemic is all over. Everyone else may not be so lucky.
Shop online. Shop local. Ride the pony.
Adam Rogers, Southsea, 2020.