RG Challenge alumni start-up Stoferno officially opened the beta version of their direct delivery service in December 2019. Through the application, users can order a range of products from one or more local companies, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, florists, wineries, optical stores and pet shops, to be delivered immediately (within 2 hours). Deliveries are made through a fleet of independent distributors and the startup also offer same day last-mile courier services.
Dimitris Lykouris, CEO & Founder of Stoferno, and his team have had an intense few months as the covid crisis came soon after the startup launched and the pandemic lead to a sudden spike in demand for their service. Most independent stores do not have their own delivery services so this was an invaluable service during lockdown. In today’s blog we interview Dimitris to hear about the start-up’s entrepreneurial journey and their recent developments and future plans.
RG: Thank you for joining us Dimitris. Let’s dive into your entrepreneurial journey first. What inspired you to create Stoferno?
Dimitris: “Stoferno started off as a personal need for a better and faster delivery experience for grocery and retail products. Although same-hour food delivery was an option for years, there was a huge gap for the other categories. We started off with Niko (co-founder & CTO) just the two of us, testing the idea and the level of need there was in the market with a simple MVP website. There have been many ups and downs along the way, but the team has always stayed loyal and strong to the cause and for that, I must express my appreciation of having them by my side along the way.”
RG: I imagine it’s been a busy few months for Stoferno. How has the pandemic affected the delivery sector and how do you think these changes will affect the sector and Stoferno’s future strategy?
Dimitris: “The market has been shifting very fast since the pandemic. We experienced a sudden boost in orders from one day to the next. We quickly adapted, hired more personnel and expanded our partner network to offer a much larger product variety. Our last-mile courier feature is on the rise right now, willing to be used by many SMEs and large companies. Currently, even the most trusted courier services are struggling to adapt to the surge in e-commerce orders, thus making way for more players like ourselves to enter in the market more aggressively. Same-day delivery is still not an option offered by most eshops and as consumers become more demanding in delivery time, especially due to lockdowns, we predict that the best is yet to come.”
RG: Stoferno was one of the participant start-ups of the Reload Greece RG Challenge19 accelerator programme. How did you come to join the programme and how would you sum up your RG experience?
Dimitris: “We found out about RG Challenge through other alumni entrepreneurs and we joined the programme through Reload Greece’s collaboration with Eurobank’s egg-enter grow initiative.
To say that we had a blast at RG Challenge19, is an understatement. It gave the team a chance to bond and connect in ways that we wouldn’t have under other circumstances. The programme mentors and coordinators gave us valuable hands-on advice from their own personal experiences as entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The training sessions helped us grow on many levels, both professionally and also personally as individuals. In summary, we came back home and went to work as different people.
We are now in the Visa Innovation Programme, a collaboration between Visa and Crowdpolicy which aims to promote new payment methods while enriching the digital commerce experience for Greek consumers and merchants. We have seen great value there too, as direct contact with Visa and the banks can help us optimise the money transactions made through the platform. In July we ran a unique Visa initiative offering free shipping on purchases via Visa card worth over 30 euros every Thursday until the end of July. In the covid crisis, with the rise of teleworking and social distancing, this tool gives an additional advantage to the local business community.”
RG: How has Stoferno has progressed since completing RG Challenge19?
Dimitris: “We did not seek funding immediately after the programme, as there were other priorities in line. The most important priority was getting a solid customer base on our own. So thus, we focused on getting our first 100 customers. Since January 2020, we have completed over 3000 deliveries and launched an additional last-mile courier service for same-day deliveries in Athens. We’ve partnered up with some of the markets most well-known brands which guarantees us a solid number of daily orders and are now, looking to grow our customer & rider network and our HQ team even further. When we were completing the RG Challenge, we were still in development of our platform. Now, we have a scalable platform and deliver products on-demand across Athens.”
RG: What organisational traits underpin Stoferno and how will your startup positively impact Greece?
Dimitris: “We are young and open-minded team, willing to adapt to every situation which I feel is important. We’ve brought a business model that has been working for years abroad into the Greek market. Our branding makes us attractive candidates for brands, looking to move on from the traditional delivery methods into something more modern, fresh and new that will give them an added value as well. This of course is a by-product of what we have learned as a team, our company value and culture, along with our way of handling our delivery couriers. We’re always looking for people who will represent us and not just “get the job done”. Company culture is at the epicenter of what we do and that’s here to stay.”
RG: As CEO of the company, what are your plans and personal hopes for the future of Stoferno?
Dimitris: “I see Stoferno becoming the most preferred courier delivery method in the market, offering on-demand services with a lean and clean user experience. I also see our marketplace growing and becoming a one-stop-shop or virtual mall for customers looking for grocery and retail products with on-demand delivery. Of course, there are other untapped markets out there waiting to be served in what we do, so expansion is something that we also strive for.”
RG: What advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs interested in following the route of entrepreneurship?
Dimitris: “Developing a startup requires patience, time and dedication, it requires so much more commitment than having a simple full-time job. Running a startup is 90% challenges and 10% rewards but these rewards are so satisfying. There is no ‘I can’t’, you can only say this when you have really exhausted all of your options. Lastly, and most importantly, the team is everything. The team are the first ‘investors’ of the project. So invest in them. Make sure your people are better than you at what they do and have the right chemistry and confidence at every level. Together you will build the company. Together you will rejoice in its good, together you will weep for it with its challenges and together you will see it grow.”
Thank you to Dimitris and Stoferno for sharing your entrepreneurial story, we wish you all the best for the next stage in your exciting journey and we look forward to following your future developments.
If you would like to fast track your start-up, our next RG Challenge programme will provide 10 days of intense mentoring and pitch training to 10 early stage start-ups looking to become investment ready. Applications to Reload Greece’s next RG Challenge programme are open now!