A lot of expats living in Asia lament a lack of Amazon in the region, or the associated costs of having stuff shipped here from back home (be it Europe, the United States, or elsewhere). International shipping is usually not kind on the wallet.
Now, Bringers is trying to change all that in an innovative way by ‘connecting flyers with people abroad’. With hopes of being admitted into JDFI’s upcoming accelerator, the bootstrapped two-month-old startup currently based in Bali, is getting ready to launch a beta site in the coming weeks.
“My Co-founder and I have been living abroad over a year now; we’ve had a business together before and we know that once you’re living abroad there’s always stuff you wish you could get from home or that just won’t ship to you,” Tim Beiko, Co-founder, Bringers told e27.
“We came up with the idea [for Bringers] and talked with people around us in co-working spaces, other digital nomads who were in this situation, and everyone had this problem. The longer people had been away, the longer their list of things they needed became,” he added.
Bringers was recently a winner at the first ever Startup Weekend in Bali, catching the eye of the Wall Street Journal and others. Since then, Beiko and Co-founder Catherine Legros, both from Montreal, Canada, have spent the past six weeks or so talking with travellers and potential users about existing pain points and how they might use the platform.
At the time of writing, Bringers has a teaser landing page in place and is working on a beta version to find out what popular item types people are looking to have brought over. From there, a fully-functioning platform should be in operation in about two months.
“It’s basically a marketplace. Say there’s this one thing you want from home. You’d log in, put up your listing, how much your item costs, and how much you’re willing to pay someone to bring it over to you,” Beiko said.
“Say there’s a US$100 pair of shoes you want. You put that on the website. Then, on the other side, anyone who’s travelling can browse through all the listings… they can then accept the ones they’ll comfortable bringing,” he added.
The buyer pays the money at the time an agreement is made with a ‘bringer’, but all funds are held by the platform until the order is delivered and marked as received, whereupon the money is released to the bringer plus commission (who originally paid for the goods from his own pocket). The platform will have an insurance policy in place for lost or damaged items to protect both parties.
If Bringers hits its stride and is accepted into JFDI’s accelerator programme, it will receive a S$25,000 (approx. US$20,000) grant and mentorship that should enable it to raise a substantial seed round in 100 days. According to Beiko, 60 per cent of startups that go through JFDI successfully secure about S$600,000 (approx. US$480,000) in seed funding.
While currently based in Bali, Bringers will relocate to Singapore in the coming weeks if all goes to plan. From then on, the city-state will become its headquarters.
“We’ve had a lot of response from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, and India… We feel Southeast Asia is a really good place to start because there are a lot of travellers and expats, so a lot of people who can bring the items for those missing stuff from back home,” Beiko said.
In the past week alone, Bringers has already had 500 user signups following a small marketing push on social media. About 30-40 per cent have given detailed comments on what they’re looking for, their travel plans, etc. Many are looking for food, Amazon products, and beauty products (for women).
“We’re scouting one place at a time. We’re probably going to start with Indonesia and Singapore, before opening up to all of Southeast Asia. We really want to focus on each country as we open there to figure out regulations and make sure all listings are correct,” Beiko said.
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A big challenge will be making a relatively complex exchange seem smooth and efficient, in the way that Airbnb or Uber do in their respective fields of accommodation and ride bookings.
Beiko and Legros are not first time entrepreneurs. Previously, they started and ran a US$200,000 per year business that gave students summer jobs painting homes. They were only 17 years old at the time.
“We feel like since we’ve both travelled a lot and know about business, this is something that really resonated with us and that we could confidently bring to life,” he said.
“We’ve run some quick numbers, and we believe that within two years we could get up to US$1 million or so in revenue. We’ll monetise by taking a fee off every transaction in the way that Airbnb does. If we’re established well in Southeast Asia, we’ll start looking at some other markets,” he added.
Looking to get that latest GoPro brought over from the States? Bringers may soon be there to help, with an app on both iOS and Android in the pipeline.
Its ultimate goal is, of course, to go global, but for now it has enough on its plate with the fragmented landscape that is home to so many expats… Expats crying on the phone to their mothers, asking for just one more batch of sauerkraut.
Ok, not really. No one misses sauerkraut.
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