My name is Marco and I’m a Perth born gentleman. I have lived here in Perth all my life and have a strong sentimental connection with this city that I call home. I am proud to share my story pertaining to my experiences working as a bicycle messenger in the city of Perth and my current business endeavors as the founder of a start-up delivery business. I’m appreciative of this opportunity to tell my Perth story.
I’ve worked as a courier in Perth for over 16 years now, starting as a bicycle messenger back in 2006 and have spent time delivering via scooter and most recently as a car courier. A couple of years after completing high school a friend of mine saw an advertisement in the jobs section of the West Australian newspaper seeking bicycle messengers and he suggested that we give it a try. The offer captivated my interest and I applied. This choice would prove to be a significant decision in establishing a pathway that would lead me to a vision over a decade later to endeavor to build Perth’s premier delivery company…that company is named WHIPP-IT. I’d like to begin to give you somewhat of an insight into our business’s intent: Whipp-it is an on-demand delivery business that services the Perth CBD and its surrounding suburbs. Whipp-it has been created by myself and 4 other local gentlemen, whom are close friends of mine. We are endeavoring to play our part in connecting Perth businesses and people together to grow a more self-sufficient and vibrant city to benefit everyone here. Whipp-it operates as a centralized marketplace for local stores to list as a virtual storefront and present their products on-line through the Whipp-it phone app. The stores catalogues are made accessible to customers within our delivery radius for purchase and delivery by Whipp-it couriers. Our delivery area is a 5km radius of Northbridge including the CBD and its surrounding suburbs. We pride ourselves on proclaiming to have goods delivered within 30 minutes or less from store to customer, a sentiment we stand by. Our intention is to develop the most comprehensive delivery service that Perth has ever known encompassing a diverse array of on-line stores available, delivered to your door. Our starting point is to deliver alcohol for local independent bottle shops as we have noticed an inclination for such a service exists from many people here. Potentially later on, once we are established, we have the outlook of delivering anything and everything from food to medication and vitamins, to corporate documents between businesses, personal goods, gifts and on-line stores, florists, adult stores, tobacconists etc. Whatever there is a demand for, our motto is “NEED IT NOW? WHIPP-IT”.
There is something about being a bicycle messenger that perhaps only bicycle messengers will truly be able to appreciate the appeal of choosing such a vocation, the money certainly isn’t a huge incentive as there has never really been a huge opportunity for a lot to be made from such a career and it doesn’t seem to be too highly regarded a job in terms of status. So why would someone choose such a career? There is a certain element of adventure and exhilaration to the job which always appealed to me that you can experience in the job at times, the way that I could best describe that feeling is that there is a carefree sense of freedom that it brings, a sense of joy in being able to hop on your bike at the start of the day and just being able to ride for a living. It’s not the easiest of jobs, engaging with the elements of traffic, pedestrians, hot, cold and wet weather conditions, steep hills and time constraints are all examples of some of the challenges faced as a bicycle messenger daily. It’s a simple job in a sense, you get paid to ride and you earn as much as you are prepared to ride as hard for, then you go home and do it again the next day. Every day is kind of an adventure when you’re a bicycle messenger as you never quite know what you’re going to encounter that day, what challenges will arise and how you will be left to navigate those challenges or what interesting characters or circumstances you will interact with or observe by being so closely immersed in the culture and the comings and goings of daily city life. Bike messengers would be an appt comparison to the undercurrent of the busy city; they cover much more territory than most people and have been to the majority of buildings and offices in the district, interact with the most diverse array of people from a range of different socio-economic groups, are authorized to go to numerous locations and just walk in to most any building with a clear purpose at hand….to get that item where it needs to go as quickly as possible.
Bike messengers and couriers have an integral part to play in the ecosystem of most any busy city around the globe as they are often the most effective and efficient means of transporting goods as quickly as possible from one location to another in the busy city landscape. Legal documents, government documents, urgent medical goods, specimens ready for analysis, corporate documents which may require an immediate sign off, food ready for consumption, architectural and infrastructural plans, mining and machinery parts, goods that are intended to go overseas via air freight, etc….. whatever the physical item is, it would be difficult for things in the socio-economic-business realm to connect in a physical nature and productivity in many industries would slow down significantly without the logistics of courier services being available.
As there is a consideration for time being the most precious commodity available, being regarded by many as being directly relative to money, especially in the business world, bike messengers and couriers are a most valuable resource to allow businesses to optimize their time management to their discernment. So perhaps this paragraph will allow you to consider for a moment what a significant role which couriers play in a society, yet they seemingly can tend to be forgotten at times for playing such an imperative role in connecting people and businesses together. It is such a simple role in a practical sense, to get goods from point A to point B as quickly as possible, but between those 2 points there is no one better equipped to navigate the bustling city landscape and busy streets than the agile, urban savvy and city smart bike messenger.
When I was around 5 years old, I used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon and my first recollection of being asked by an adult “what do you want to do when you grow up?” was replying with childlike innocence; “I want to be the delivery man who delivers pizza to the Ninja Turtles.” I think to myself now as an adult that it was such a fitting response for my 5-year-old self to make that I have been able to remain congruent to that childhood projection I made and it provides me great reinforcement that what I am endeavoring to do with Whipp-it is exactly what my purpose has been ever since that intention was set as a child, although I am yet to deliver a pizza to the Ninja Turtles, the correlation still exists some 30 years later.
Back in the day when I was as a bike messenger there used to be some talk amongst the bike messengers of Perth of branching out and becoming independent from the big multi-national companies we were working for, but at the time it didn’t come to fruition and it was only ever really spoken of as somewhat of a pipe dream. Little did I know at that time that many years later this would become a very true intention of mine that I would dedicate as my mission, to build Perth’s most innovative, premier delivery service.
In 2006 when I started working as a bike messenger, messengers used to be able to earn a fairly good amount of money for a day’s work comparative to now and there used to be a strong sense of comradery and community amongst couriers back then. To be a bike messenger was to be a part of a kind of sub-culture, a culture in which we all shared a common interest in that we were all doing the same job and experienced similar challenges and although we may have worked for different companies, we all felt a sense of acceptance within that culture which bonded us together as friends who would look out for one another. In a way it was more than just a job, it was a lifestyle.
Things have certainly changed a lot since the start of the millennium when there were more than 50 bicycle messengers at one time in Perth during the WA mining boom era. As things have evolved in the delivery industry and local economy, we have seen the industry become more and more convoluted by numerous app-based delivery companies coming in to WA and I have seen things change a lot. For a start I have observed the quality of care and sense of pride in the job diminish over time as that sense of choosing to be a courier as more of a career choice has seemed to have turned into something which is considered as more of just a job whereby people may be working for 2 or 3 different companies in order to make enough money to get by and finance their lifestyle and may likely not see the job as something to sustain themselves for the long term. There used to be a much more professional sense of service in previous years prior to the rise of app-based delivery. We used to ride hard when I was a messenger and there used to be a sense of endeavor to get an item to its intended destination as quickly and safely as possible, this doesn’t seem to be the case as much these days I feel. Along with the quality of care in the service the whole sense of bike messenger culture and comradery got lost and we find that there are only 3 bike messengers left in Perth now in 2021, a mere remnant of a once strongly bonded bicycle messenger culture here in Perth where messengers would communicate and interact closely with one another on a daily basis.
With the rise of some commonly known conglomerate companies being introduced worldwide into the delivery industry, including locally here in Perth, which are currently involved in such operations overseas as autonomous vehicles and drone delivery, I feel that these kinds of practices are not beneficial to human performed jobs and thus, I feel a sense of responsibility to endeavor to build a company which can really value the people who work within it to ensure them that we would never intend for their jobs to be made obsolete by robotics. Whipp-it believes in community networks and self-sufficiency whereby people within a community invest in one another for the greater good of everyone within the community. If Whipp-it can contribute to bringing people and local businesses together we will feel as though what we are doing is worthwhile. Whipp-it’s intention is to provide the local community with the best possible option for a delivery service so that when people use Whipp-it, not only are they hopefully having a better all-round experience but they can also know that when they are using our service any revenue made is being reinvested and recirculated into the local economy instead of going to a foreign owned company with international investors, hence we are proud to announce that we are 100% locally owned and operated and passionate about creating a vibrant and affluent community for our home town.
In my opinion there has never before been a more imperative time to support local business and implement self-sufficiency within the ecosystems of local business and the community as the events that have transpired over the last 2 years have highlighted. It is apparent that the direct affects which “the pandemic” has had has caused huge financial divide between local independent businesses and global corporations by which the global corporations have become significantly wealthier and local businesses have found it increasingly challenging to sustain their businesses survival, a trend which may likely continue unless we can collectively become more self-sufficient and supportive of local business I feel.
In 2016 I found myself working on my bicycle again for a couple of the 2 most prominent app-based food delivery companies. At the time, these services were quite new to Perth and were gaining popularity, eventually being embraced into day-to-day life by the people of Perth for the foreseeable future I feel. By having firsthand experience into how these companies were operating I gained a great deal of insight into some of the ways they had a tendency to neglect a sense of care in the way which they were operating and how they lacked a sense of micromanagement over how their service was being conducted at the most basic level, for example; how they were allocating deliveries to couriers, how people were receiving their goods, in what condition their goods were being received, how quickly they received them and how they were being interacted with by the workers and administrators. By working for these app-based companies for around 2 years I could also see many ways, which in my opinion, that the service could be improved on in terms of efficiency, professionalism, promotion, duty of care, customer experience and satisfaction, personability, affordability…basically the full criteria that a consumer and clients base their opinion of a delivery service upon, I could see firsthand, ways in my mind of improving on each element.
It was towards the end of 2016 whilst I was working for those food delivery companies that I began contemplating the idea of pursuing the passion that I had to begin my own delivery company and I set out upon creating my vision for Whipp-it delivery. Around this time, I had a moment of pure clarity by which I could see how my entire past had led me to that moment and how it had all aligned to direct me to pursue this vision that I have for Whipp-it into the next decade and beyond. After having this moment of realization, I set off about my mission ahead. I began by speaking to other bicycle messengers about collaborating for discussions and began regularly meeting up at local cafes to brainstorm ideas with them. After brainstorming for a couple of months or so, I began to approach some restaurants in my local area and asked if they would like to adopt a delivery service to enhance their sales. There was some interest and some of the restaurants chose to accept our offer to provide delivery for them, there were 4 restaurants to begin with, an Egyptian, a Chinese, a Taiwanese and a Turkish kebab shop, all of which were in about 150 meters of my apartment at the time so they were all within close vicinity and places which I knew of the management simply from being a local resident who was active in the community. The initial approach we took was by walking around posting out flyers for the restaurants in the local area and we would attach our logo onto the flyers to create an awareness of our delivery service. Customers would phone in to place an order and then the restaurant would contact us to go down and pick up the food and deliver it to them. At the start it was somewhat of an old school approach of operating with just me and a few friends of mine who would hang out at my apartment and wait for orders to be called in from the restaurants. We began to see a demand for deliveries pretty much from the start and we slowly began to expand our service to include more restaurants. Within the first 18 months of operation, we gained a total of 16 restaurants. This was an encouraging start to our business however it came with its challenges and was not a sustainable way for us to continue operating as we knew that in order for us to grow and compete with other already established services, we would be required to integrate modern technology into our service. This initial exploration and building phase undertaken with the bare minimum of resources and finance established the fundamental nature of our business as we were operating based on a sheer passion and belief that what we were embarking upon had great potential to grow and become something sustainable for the long term. Sustainability has become one of the fundamental ideologies for our business model as we implemented the mindset of thinking long term by which we would enjoy the journey which was unfolding before us and celebrate the little wins which we encounter along the way towards our long-term goals. This mindset for long term growth is based upon creating and growing a culture of community around our business, which we acknowledge is a process that will take time to transpire. This initial phase of operating was an unsustainable model for the long term and was more of a way of gaging that there was a demand and receptivity for our service and we took a great deal of encouragement from that period knowing that people were enjoying our service and giving us positive reinforcement.
Since the inception of our business, we always had the goal of building our own mobile phone app to utilize the efficiency and convenience of modern technology to our service, merged with our 20 years’ worth of an experiential understanding of the delivery industry here to be able to compete with the already established app-based services which had been introduced in to Perth in recent years. In mid 2017 we began the search to find an app developer for our service. At the time I posted an add on line and was inundated with quotes from all over the world including locally from the eastern states and here in WA. As the search was out for a developer, one of my close, long-term friends, Daryl, was observing what I was doing and expressed interest in Whipp-it and offered to partner with me as he could recognize the potential in the venture I was undertaking. It was an obvious choice for me to partner with him as not only was he a close friend whom I trusted, but he could add a great deal of value through his wealth of knowledge from having studied a degree in business and having firsthand experience operating a business. Daryl had a cousin, Alex, an up-and-coming IT whiz-kid whom he suggested he introduce me to at the time. Daryl and I took a couple of meetings with Alex to discuss the prospect of taking him on as our app developer. We decided that the most appropriate course of action was to hire his talented and enthusiastic cousin for the job as it made sense to get someone who we could work with closely who shared our vision and could join our company as head of IT. Alex had a friend named Josh, whom he bought in to assist him with developing the app. Josh was also a talented young man who was already capable of running his own freelance IT business and he joined us to assist with his skills in IT and marketing as he also saw the vision we shared for Whipp-it and was eager to contribute his expertise.
So, the business was taking shape and we began undertaking the process of developing our app in October of 2017. The original time frame for completion of the app was unfortunately massively underexaggerated as we encountered many technical setbacks with production which continued to push back our start date time after time. Despite the many delays we endeavored to persist and remain proactive by focusing on other tasks at hand such as taking a deep dive into formulating a business plan which would act as a comprehensive overview of what we were intending to create and a guideline as to how we would get there. We also established a core set of principles and values which we would use to create the sense of community and fairness which we want to exude in our operations so that those intentions would be evident in all that we do throughout the long haul. We also spent a great deal of time strategizing our branding and marketing plan, liaising with various advertising and business people to gain any good ideas that could benefit our business model, as well as taking on another close friend of ours as an investor. Now, at the start of 2022, some 5 years since the businesses inception we are ready to relaunch our model with our completed mobile phone app working optimally and available on the Google Play and iTunes stores with a few local, independent bottle shops currently on our platform.
One of the main principals for us, looking long term, is to build a sense of community amongst local businesses by assisting them to create more awareness to customers of the businesses that we partner with. We believe it is a collaborative effort of cross business promotion and working together in creating awareness of local businesses and also importantly the people behind them. One of the ways we choose to demonstrate our commitment to this goal is by filming short promotional videos for each one of our partnered stores so that we can feature their business on our website and social medias in order to show people in the community what they offer, as well as familiarizing them with the people who operate the businesses too. Another long-term goal that we have is to revive the courier culture which previously existed 2 decades ago by endeavoring to recreate that sense of comradery within our courier fleet, whereby couriers can feel as though they are part of a team environment and can exude a sense of pride in wearing the Whipp-it uniform. We want to show our workers that we value and appreciate them and recognize them as people and not just workers. Our hope is that our workers can take pride in the fact they are a part of a culture which is consistent upon a collaborative effort whereby we work together to attain a greater good for our community as a collective and are not just a group of individuals only out to gain for their own personal interests. Having worked as a courier for over 20 years I can personally relate to what it is that allows for good working for conditions as a courier and we wish to provide the best that we possibly can for our workers so that they recognize that they are valued by the company and that they are part of our Whipp-it culture, created by couriers for the community.
Bike messengers I feel have always been very resourceful, creative individuals whose natural talents often lead them into creative fields like art, acting, music or design. This sense of creativity has also led bike messengers to go on to attain significant careers in the business realm due to their entrepreneurial and intelligent nature. As a bike messenger, to be able walk into a corporate office environment wearing shorts and a sweaty t-shirt with headphones blasting tunes, in their own kind of flow state of being, whilst a group of suit clad workers sit on and observe them collect that important document from the reception desk, proceed to hop on their bike and rip through traffic with a sense of ease, on to the next destination….the role of the bike messenger in society allows them to be somewhat aloof from the mainstream which can help them to develop a free-thinking nature because they are often free from a lot of the social conditions which society places upon collective culture, a valuable trait which can instill a sense of fearlessness in any pursuit. Also, often in order to be a bike messenger, one must adopt a kind of hustler’s mindset to get by due to the lower paying nature of the job and thus, they are usually left to be very resourceful people in order to sustain their living expenses, or perhaps pay their way through their education, sometimes having to work a second job as a DJ, or a waiter…or whatever it is that they have to do to get by to sustain themselves, day to day, week to week, often year to year. It’s this kind of mentality that gives bike messengers their ability to adjust to different circumstances and environments and do the best with what they have and allows them to realize their unlimited potential to manifest some truly magnificent feats, often from the bare minimum of resources.
Whipp-it was started from scratch, just an idea and a passion to pursue a dream to create something truly beneficial for our community. Everything we have done has been a grind, not much has come easily for us thus far. By starting from scratch, we have taken our time with each of our endeavors, allowing us to look at all the intricate details of our business so that we have been able to really create a strong sense of identity in our businesses ideologies and how we operate. Whipp-it is an extension of us individually, an expression which we will endeavor to pursue regardless of whatever challenges we encounter along the way purely because we are doing something which we truly believe in and are passionate about. At the core of our business, Whipp-it Delivery is comprised of what I believe to be an unbeatable formula; an intelligent and capable team who each possess their individual strengths with a common goal in mind and a mindset consisting of a willing attitude which cannot be replicated, bought by any amount of money or contrived by any other means because we are literally living out our dream moment by moment and what we are endeavoring to create in the world is a truly authentic expression of who we are.
As I sit here now at my favorite local café and apply the finishing touches to this story, only a few days into the new year of 2022 and reflect upon the last couple of years prior and the challenges which we have faced, I feel a great sense of optimism at the prospect of the new year ahead and what possibilities it may bring and I ask myself at this time “what kind of world do I want to contribute to creating in 2022 and beyond?”
My hope is that Whipp-it can be our contribution for the better.
Thank you for reading this.
Founder, Whipp-it Delivery.