When Daniels Langeberg embarked on starting a business in 2015, he didn’t quite know what road bumps lay ahead.
Equipped with a green idea and out-of-the-box thinking, Langeberg launched EcoCaddy, a bike-taxi service offering passengers with an on-demand hail service using their smartphone – one of the first of its kind in the world!
During the launch phase, the business model was to subsidise the fare for passengers and rely on advertising to pay staff. While the brand attracted considerable interest, the start-up was fast running out of money.
“We had some success with that, but ultimately it was an unproven business model that was expensive and unpredictable to sustain,” Daniels said.
“Unlike rideshare companies, EcoCaddy employs its riders and provides all the benefits that come along with it; Super, insurance etc.”
Langeberg realised his business needed to pivot and explored several business models with the same mission to “decarbonise cities and build resilient communities”.
“At the core of it, EcoCaddy is a zero emissions logistics company,” Mr Langeberg said.
“We run several business models that focus on carbon negative outcomes.
“We offer ecotourism urban experiences, point-to-point intra-city passenger transport, compelling outdoor media and resource recovery. All of which use our electric assisted tricycles to get the job done.
“We put a fresh spin on traditional business models that have been proven out, using our unique capabilities to offer something really enjoyable for our customers.
“Our uniform, unique vehicles made of handcrafted bamboo, our social media content and even our HQ on pulteney street all aim to create a certain expectation. Well designed, sustainable and reliable.”
With businesses across the state exploring lowering their carbon emissions, EcoCaddy have been leading the way in this space and said “doing things in a way that is low/no cost to the environment in the medium to long term is a good investment”.
“The upfront cost to pay for solar for instance, is more expensive initially but doing so also makes your business so much more resilient and self-sufficient,” Daniels said.
“As we can see with the rising cost of electricity and fuel - vehicles like ours are now more attractive to operate and our cost of business has been relatively unaffected by these fluctuations.
“Another positive is that we’ve never had trouble recruiting people. They usually find us and stay for a very long time, because they align with how we do things.
“This goes for our customers and clients too. Our business is unique in what we offer, however there still are alternatives and I believe we get chosen more often than not because of the good things we are doing for the environment and how we treat our employees.
“If you're building a business from the ground up – start with going green and then work backwards. It's a no brainer point of difference (until everyone eventually does it).
“If you are trying to improve an existing business, do an impact assessment and this will illuminate the areas of your business that you can make the biggest improvements. Start small to get some runs on the board and measure so you can demonstrate your impact internally and get buy-in and then ratchet up from there. Then celebrate your green milestones with your customers, they feel good knowing that their choice is doing good in more ways than just solving their immediate problems.”
After operating for over seven years, Daniels’ advice to others looking at starting a business is to take their time.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Langeberg said.
“The success of your business mainly comes down to how long you can keep going. The better you run the better your business will run.
“Look inwards first - find a problem that really interests you..that you are really passionate about.
“Do your research! Cannot stress this enough. See if a lot of people are having the same problem. That’s a leading indicator that you will have enough customers to keep your business going/ scale up.
“Share your idea with others! Anyone who is keen to listen and get feedback. Don’t be shy. It’s good practice. If you can not sell your idea…how are you going to sell a product/service?
“Find one or two people that share your passion - bag yourself a business partner! I’m the sole founder of EcoCaddy and a cofounder of Mache Coworking - being a cofounder has a lot of benefits. Namely, to have a partner there for support and to be good in things that you are not.
“Talk to actual people that have the problem you think you can solve. Don’t be scared to reach out to potential customers. It will help you to build a better business if you can build it around solving their actual problems.
“Get buy in /intent to buy or better yet, a pre-purchase of your solution - before you build it!
“Get financial and legal advice on how to best structure your business - it pays to do this properly at the start
“Launch your business - preferably already with some customers.
“Never stop learning / improving.”
For more information about EcoCaddy, visit their website: www.ecocaddy.com.au/