Bernie Kinsella of worldBox talks us through starting-up and connecting consumers across the globe.
Connecting consumers across the Globe: worldBOX’s Bernie Kinsella on starting-up.
Taking the plunge to set up your own Start-up is a brave and bold move. However in the case of worldBOX founder, Bernie Kinsella, the decision to set up a new business was a surprisingly easy one to make.
With the company going from success to success, Bernie explains: “Once we figured out how we could do it and we felt we could change the conversation around shipping, we felt there was no going back.
“We went with it. I never sat there and thought: ‘Oh God, will we do it? Or not do it?’ We really, really believed it’s going to work. We had no doubts. We wanted to make shipping an easy experience for the consumer, we really wanted it to be a pleasure to ship.”
“The bravest thing we did was to invest our own money. Like most Start-ups you’re spending your own money, you have to believe in it to do that. That’s the bottom line, it’s not easy.”
Part of the AIB Start-up Academy earlier this year, worldBOX specialises in making shipping a consumer-friendly experience, with the company placing a focus on helping to connect people with families and friends abroad.
An important part of the company’s offering to consumers, Bernie describes the Academy as instrumental in allowing her time to develop the brand and product offering further.
With a background in shipping and B2B services, she explains: “The Academy really gave me time to step back from the business. It allowed us to sit back and reflect on it.
“We weren’t up and running that long, we had only launched a number of months but we had been getting ready for it about a year beforehand. Ours is an online product and we had made lots of mistakes at that stage.”
Bernie adds: “We certainly changed things about the product from the Academy. We knew we were missing an opportunity with the box because it’s a piece of marketing in itself. The first design was pretty bland and from the modules we saw that we missed that opportunity. The box and branding needed to be knowledgeable and to tell people who we were.
“It’s a product that’s about connecting people, making it easy for people to ship and to be thoughtful and to send a gift. I found it hard to see how we could show that, but in the projects and workshops, we had our Eureka moment. We saw that we had to transfer that emotive part of the service into our branding and onto our boxes as well.”
Along with allowing the Start-up time to develop their branding further, Bernie says that the opportunity to network with other Start-ups was a valuable exercise.
“As a Start-up, you don’t have time to sit around reading the papers and stay up to date with everything. Networking is the one thing we really needed. Meeting other Start-ups helped to show that everyone has the same sort of issues, you can learn things that help you time save and no-one judges you,” she explains.
“Sometimes you’re afraid to ask a stupid question, but in the Academy you feel very secure.”
“There were modules that covered all aspects of the business as well. Some you might not really be excited about, but you do need to know every element of your business. You can’t leave it to someone else.”
One of a host of Start-ups to benefit from a stint in the Academy, Bernie urges people to apply this year for the next intake – regardless of the stage of their business.
She says: “I’d say just go for it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Even in filling out all the application forms, you learn so much about your business.
“And it really shows you the importance of learning your elevator pitch. You need to be able to sum up your Start-up in a few sentences.”
With years of experience in business under her belt, worldBOX evolved from a desire to service personal customers better in the shipping trade.
A timely process, shipping can occasionally be a stressful experience for smaller customers. Bernie explains: “I worked in B2B logistics for many years and I had experience in working in medical software. Customer complaints were what prompted us to think about our Start-up.
“When someone comes on the phone and enquires about shipping, it’s hard to communicate the process and everything that needs be done over the phone.
“We shipped something for this particular customer perfectly. But beforehand, we had given her an approximate quote and it ended up being 3 times more expensive, and she was really annoyed.
“That made me realise that we need to be able to solve this problem and to tell people exactly what it will cost beforehand. This lady said to me that the cost of the goods in the box were less than the cost of shipping.
“We wanted to work for the consumer, rather than just present the service and say: ‘Take it or leave it’.”
Determined to create a friendlier consumer-facing experience, Bernie decided to step away from the B2B business to start worldBOX.
“We separated out and started from scratch. The other business is B2B and works really well. This was a whole new market, a different way of thinking and a different culture. Even the way of accessing the product is different,” she recalls.
“The first year was brilliant. It was definitely a rollercoaster ride and we worked long hours. We had some big wins and lots of mistakes. But we were getting more positive feedback than negative feedback.“
With their sights firmly set on expansion, consumers in the UK can expect to avail of the service soon.
“It’s a city product and the UK market is very attractive to us,” Bernie reveals. “We’re talking to people about partnering up in the UK and that’s our main goal at the moment.
“To see worldBOX set up in another country will be the most exciting thing. Dublin is a great launchpad for a business. It helps you to research the market, you can get into the car and talk to customers and get feedback really quickly.
“If we can get it into another city, there’s no stopping us.”
With a growing team working across the business, Bernie says every member of the team plays a key role.
“Everyone in this company considers themselves important to a sale, whether it’s to help a customer with an invoice or promoting the business, you’re there to support.
“Every single sale is so important. Every box that comes in the floor here is a win because the work that goes into getting a sale is huge. So everyone, from the marketing department to finance, plays a big role in that.”
Want the opportunity to learn how to grow your Start-up business? Submit your application now for a chance to win a place in the next AIB Start-Up Academy.