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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2018

Making a Move: Vancouver-based Porter, a Leader in the Consumer Services Market, Rises Above Street Expectations, Ready to Tackle the Real Estate Market

thesiliconreview-jonathan-natavio-founder-ceo-porter-2018Taking our learnings from the last 2 years in B2B and B2C, we identified several opportunities in the Real Estate industry that would allow Porter to scale rapidly and capitalize on a grossly underserved market: Jonathan Natavio

Running errands and taking care of our chores is an uphill battle for all of us. But sometimes it’s not so much laziness about cleaning the house or fixing the leaky faucet as it is finding gaps in our schedules to do so. Thanks to technology, we can have total control of what we do and when we do it, so our home doesn’t become a lion’s den.

In light of the above mentioned, we are thrilled to present Porter – developer of a smart concierge application; designed to offer in-home services. The company’s concierge application offers a powerful engine that manages relationships between residents/tenants, property managers and local professional service providers. It also supports and manages recurring in-home services such as house cleaning, dry cleaning and laundry delivery, empowering residents/tenants and their property managers to focus on more meaningful things.

Porter served its first customer in 2016 and is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada.

Jonathan Natavio, Porter Founder/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Throughout my career, I would usually put in 12-15 hour days regardless of what company I worked at. It was during my time at Shoes.com that I realized the amount of work I have been putting in was impacting other aspects of my life. I was working so much that I barely had time for basic responsibilities, let alone time for friends, family and things that I wanted to do and enjoy. Because of this, I started to look for an app or different ways that I can outsource some of the menial tasks I have; tasks like grocery shopping, home cleaning and dog walking. I quickly realized that while there are services available, managing and coordinating different services on different apps created a lot of frustration and confusion. I wanted a single service that could help me with most, if not all, of my tasks. I built a platform to solve my own personal problems of managing menial and mundane tasks. I didn’t expect to see that what I had built would end up helping my friends, family, colleagues and it was at this exact moment when it dawned on me; if I am experiencing frustrations and the closest people to me we’re experiencing the same frustrations, there must be a larger group of people that I could help and it seemed like a massive opportunity. For three months, I would work my 9-5 then come home and continue working for another 10 hrs, building what would be the first version of Porter.

Porter launched in May 2016 and was targeted towards busy working professionals helping them with four main categories of tasks: Shopping & Delivery, Home Maintenance, Home Cleaning and Moving Requests. We quickly gained traction, generating upwards of $15k GMV with a 49% gross margin after only three months of operating, which was very exciting for me. I had expectations seasonality would be a factor for the business, however, didn’t expect the decrease in performance that it brought. Because of this extreme decline in our metrics, it was a necessity to figure out how we would survive. We pivoted to shift our market focus towards corporate offices and businesses. Same service offering, new target market.

With a renewed focus on B2B, I was hustling to generate leads and secure meetings with local tech companies that I knew would benefit from a couple of services. Give a free service and get them hooked on the quality and reliability of the providers. Between March 2017 and September 2017, our team grew to eight and we onboarded 75 businesses from the likes of Clearly, Lululemon, Hootsuite and was generating $35k GMV per month. All of our efforts early on were starting to pay off. As we entered our seasonal months, it gave us an opportunity to step back and review wins/losses and what we can do to improve the following year – 2018.

Taking our learnings from the last 2 years in B2B and B2C, we identified several opportunities in the Real Estate industry that would allow Porter to scale rapidly and capitalize on a grossly underserved market.

About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this high volatile market?

I am a believer that the market should dictate the direction the business should go. Our customers have allowed us to understand the services we should offer, the price they want to pay, the quality they expect. The constant feedback gives us insight into consumer mindsets; what they are thinking of our services. Combining this feedback with platform analytics and transactional data, allows us to stay relevant and top of mind.

We foster an open door policy where all ideas are welcomed, suggested and almost immediately validated. The team follows the Lean Startup methodology, so when we have a hypothesis, we do our best to quickly validate and learn. If the hypothesis requires engineering or other assets not readily available, we’ll build an MVP, the absolute bare minimum to launch and learn. Having a small but motivated team helps with the agility and adaptability.

How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

Stagnation and complacency is the death of everything. We have a culture of continued learning, open communication and making data-driven decisions. We are constantly pushing each other to learn and educate ourselves in areas that are interesting, regardless if it’s within our domain expertise. By understanding different problems and how they are solved; we are then able to take those learnings and apply them at a different capacity. I am an advocate of open communication and collaboration. Working hand in hand with the team and solving problems in real-time cultivates that level of learning, challenges and innovation. At the end of the day, decisions should be supported by data. When I say ‘data’, I don’t only mean numbers and KPIs found on Excel spreadsheets but referring to qualitative data. For example, I can’t quantify or measure an Instagram post and how that affects revenue, but external studies have shown that authentic content does create long-term impact.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Yes - we just launched the new platform targeting the multi-resident segment of the real estate market. Our team is grinding away at building more products that will be released over the coming months while continuing to add enhancements to elevate the user experience. There are also a few other innovative technology additions that we’re extremely excited about but overall, we’re looking forward to seeing how the market will react to this new direction and are confident this will bolster Porter as a leader and driving force in the Consumer Services market.

As a question on sustainability, where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Our mission is to empower people to reclaim their most precious asset – time. Everything we do as a business and the decisions we make must have an impact on our mission. With emerging technologies like AI and Blockchain dramatically improving user experiences and inefficient processes, I can imagine Porter as the tech giant dominating the consumer services market.

This is Jonathan Natavio: Porter’s CEO In His Own Words

My name is Jonathan Natavio and I am the founder and CEO of Porter. I originally followed the typical path after high school, listened to my parents, attended a university with the goal of receiving a degree but realizing that post-secondary wasn’t the path for me so I dropped out. I went on to discover and pursue an opportunity that I believed would fundamentally change the way people shop. Just before my 19th birthday in 2007, I was hired at Clearly (previously ClearlyContacts.ca/Coastal.com). I was an integral part of the advertising team, managing loyalty & retention and had a direct impact on generating over $100 million in repeat revenue. Being part of that company at an early stage (employee 75), doing whatever it took to get things done and see it grow to a $450 million acquisition, gave me the insight and confidence to become the entrepreneur that I am today.

“Yes - we just launched the new platform targeting the multi-resident segment of the real estate market. Our team is grinding away at building more products that will be released over the coming months while continuing to add enhancements to elevate the user experience.”