Friend’livery is one of Turbine‘s new incubated start-ups. Turbine has the pleasure to be part of the journey of this start-up whose mission is to turn all travellers into deliverers. Yohanna Laroque, founder of Friend’livery shares her story with us.
Tell us about you and how you started your entrepreneurial journey.
“I am Yohanna, I am French, and I have moved to Mauritius in November 2015 with my husband. During my first year there, I realized I missed a lot of products I was used to buying in France.
I had a few choices: change my habits, order online or wait for friends and family to visit. I did change my habits for few products. For the rest, I tried to order online, but it wasn’t an efficient solution because of the high shipping costs, the tax amounts, and the delay of delivery.
So, when my parents and friends would come visit, I would order online, ship to their houses in France, and they would pack my orders in their suitcases. And I saw a lot of people, expats and Mauritians, do the same with their own families and friends.
And that is when it hit me! Why do we have to wait for family and friends to travel when there are millions of daily travellers who could deliver our orders for us?
In addition, I have always wanted to become an entrepreneur, to create a project that would be useful to people, to work on my own terms. But I waited for the idea and the right moment to take the leap! And this is now!
That’s how Friend’livery was born!
What is Friend’livery?
Friend’livery is a crowdshipping platform whose objective is to connect travellers, with people who need to receive or send something the travellers could ship. Thus, people can receive and send anything, anywhere in the world.
For example, your children are studying abroad, and you wish to send them a taste of home? You are an expat and your favourite brand of cosmetics doesn’t exist locally? You are a sport addict, but you cannot find technical equipment at a convenient price? One solution: ask a traveller.
And for travellers, this is a great way to give a hand and meet local people. They will also be rewarded so that they will save money during their trip.
Below is a member of Friend’livery community, a French traveller Pierre-Emmanuel, who was on holiday in Vietnam. He saw the request of Ha Le, a Vietnamese girl living in Paris, who needed a parcel from her parents in Vietnam. Pierre-Emmanuel became one of the first Friend’liverers!
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The concept of crowdshipping is quite new, especially in Mauritius! That’s why the challenge for the next months is to raise awareness through digital marketing and social media. I have created Friend’livery Facebook, Instagram and Youtube accounts where I will post articles, videos, pictures to make sure people understand Friend’livery. It is essential people feel comfortable using it, and spread the word around them in Mauritius and abroad!
In parallel, I will be working on web and mobile applications, to improve the user experience, since today, all requests and transactions go through Facebook and the group Friend’livery Community.
How Turbine supported this journey so far?
I must say, reaching out to Turbine has been a great decision for me. A friend of mine recommended Turbine and I sent an email in March 2018 to Diane Maigrot, the Start-up and Business Growth manager, and she answered very quickly. Soon after, I met with Diane and got a great impression!
So I started to use the Co-working space ; it was good to be able to work in a professional environment, at a reasonable price! And I had a lot of fun during the lunch break with the other co-workers !
I was eventually selected to participate in the Test Drive program in September 2018. It was the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs, experts, learn tips and tools for start-ups. I also made good friends there!
And recently, I started the Incubation process. The incubation is very important to me, especially the weekly coaching and the available experts. Indeed, I am working alone, which I am not used to, so this enables me to challenge my ideas and stay focused on priorities.
Friend’livery has grown so much in a year, I have learnt a lot in this passed year as well. Despite the difficulties I will meet, I am so proud to work on my own project now. It makes me feel so passionate and alive.