A click-and-collection start-up built for the city: HubBox

An unfortunate commute home on a packed London tube taught Sam Jarvis a valuable lesson, and gave him the lightbulb moment he needed to found HubBox. Here's his start-up journey.

Name: Sam Jarvis, CEO, HubBox
Location: South West London
Date launched: February 2015
Number of employees: under 20

What does your business do?

HubBox is an award-winning click-and-collect integrated tech solution that allows retailers to offer their customers a nationwide network of Collect Points. HubBox’s innovative solution integrates seamlessly with any e-commerce platform, with no change to courier(s) or fulfilment systems.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

In short, someone on the underground looked at me carrying a large parcel on a packed tube and called me a … well, something unrepeatable! I couldn’t believe that there was no solution that allowed me to collect online orders on the way home instead of sending everything to the office.  So I set out to create a solution that worked with any online retailer and allowed me to collect everything on the way home.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We did extensive market research before launch. One of the first things we noticed about our competitors was that they were often tied to a particular courier or fulfilment system. So, for online retailers who were happy with their current courier(s), it was a real problem to have to switch/add another one. In addition, our competitors often had protracted, intrusive integration that required substantial investment from the retailer. So we set out to design a solution that was quick and inexpensive to adopt, with no change to courier(s) or fulfilment systems.

How did you raise funding, and why?

We funded the initial prototype ourselves to get as much proof of concept as possible. Based on the results we generated, we were able to close an Angel round of funding in August 2015. We’ve also just closed our second round of funding which included a number of well-known Angel investors (Alan Halsall, Rob Fraser, and Adam Buck) along with a VC.

Describe your business model in brief?

HubBox’s model is simple: we charge a small fee for every parcel that we collect and store for online shoppers.  When HubBox Click & Collect is offered directly at the checkout by one of our Partner Retailers, they pay that fee as we’ve helped convert the customer by offering convenient local collection.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

Recently we’ve had some great wins with the likes of Yoga Rebel, Shore Projects, Honest Grapes, and Huez. We couldn’t engage big retailers until we had nationwide coverage, so reaching the necessary scale and then winning these names was a big moment for us as a company.

We’re also close to launching with a few household names, which will be a real seminal moment for us as we offer our solution to hundreds of thousands of shoppers every week.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

Focus as much on the problems that need to be solved today and not those you think will come in the future. We all want to look to the future, but be careful spending time solving future issues (particularly from a tech point of view) which may never materialise. We built some systems which in the end were totally redundant and we could have spent that time making the systems we know we needed better and more robust.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Our long-term plan is to launch in France, Germany, Spain and other selected markets. The growth in online shopping in Europe is more than 15% annually, so the opportunity to deliver a local Click & Collect service exists in the same way that it does here. In addition, the geographies of the above are much larger than the UK, so fulfilment is an even bigger challenge. Click & Collect should be an integral part of the solution and we hope to have the opportunity to be a part of it.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…

Still in finance, I guess. Or still failing to become a professional golfer!

What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.