2020… well that was interesting. Anyone who has been following our progress over the last few years would know that Yodel is a shift filling platform designed to fill shifts in seconds. Right? Well yes and no, 2020 changed everything. Yodel is now a local business directory that connects locals to local businesses. That quite the change, let us find out how it happened.
Early in 2020 we were finalising a seed capital raise (which is a story in itself) and had some amazing deals ready to finalise, this year was going to be huge! We managed to finalise our seed round at the end of February, hired some sales guys everything was looking good and then Covid-19 hit the Queensland economy. We thought we would be ok or at worst focus on the health care sector, so we kept on pushing.
Early in March everything changed. As Covid-19 became a bigger event in our community our amazing deals that we had lined up kept being cancelled or put-on indefinite hold, things were looking grim. However, we had managed to raise our seed round and we had to work out how to deliver on our investor’s expectations. The general wisdom in the start-up world was hibernate or keep pushing. We felt hibernation was not an option, so we kept pushing.
The first step of pushing was to look out our current product feature set to see if there was something saleable. Yodel can send one-way messages via SMS so we tested to see if it could be utilised for SMS marketing. This was well-received however as our main customers were in hospitality and retail, we were meeting with them on a Monday and on Tuesday they were closed. Things were not looking great, so we had to let our new sales guys go and try and work out what was next.
We have always had a passion for small business, and we had been working with one of our customers on an employee benefits system to keep users on the platform when there were no shifts to fill. We accelerated this feature and altered it slightly to make it a local business directory to let our users know who is open during quarantine. This was well received by our users and we wanted to help as many local businesses as we could, so we made it free for anyone in the public to download (download it here!). It started growing fast!
Businesses loved this feature for a variety of reasons but one of the big ones was what was included in their listing. They can list menus, booking forms and links to socials. Most importantly businesses can list their preferred delivery service. Whether it is through Uber eats, Boople, Menulog whatever the business likes we will list it. This helps the businesses control costs as some delivery services charge as much as 30%. Users loved it too because they didn’t need to trawl through multiple apps they could find it all in the one place. We had found our new niche!
As we were launching, we needed to get the word out about our platform. We had about 900 businesses in the Mt Gravatt area, so we reached out to local MPs and got some awesome support from local federal member for Bonner Ross Vasta and local state member for Mansfield Corrine McMillian. We made some videos, posted them on our socials and they went far better than any social post we had made before! So, we made some more videos with business owners that were on the platform and they went even better. This has been immensely popular with 65 videos filmed with awesome small business owners! We were able to build awareness of the platform and awesome local businesses at the same time! We were gaining an audience!
We found our new niche! We had an audience! But the question remains is Yodel a Shift Filling Platform? Shift filling will always be something we do and care deeply about. Some of the deals that were put on ice are starting to thaw and this function will always be available to Businesses large and small. But small business is our passion and shift filling isn’t a problem that many of them face. Our focus is now on helping small businesses become more visible by connecting them to local customers in their community. To list your small business and connect with locals in your area click here to find out more!