The time of good results is always seen as a natural, easy thing to do, but don’t be mistaken, it’s actually chaos mixed with delays and sleepless nights, where the only question is — could it be done better, more efficiently or even cheaper?
Delivering samples to influencers
Working on the Woolet project first showed me how complex is to tackle the pre-production samples for magazines and influencers. Thanks to Sarota PR — Krakow agency that helped prepare the whole process of contacting, sending agreements, remaining on the publish date, and forcing them to return them once reviewed. The task was done perfectly but one thing failed. We didn’t get the products back.
A similar situation happened with projects like CrossLifter, J23, and iChessone, there was one thing in common. The process failed us, so we tried to investigate where the bottleneck was located. The few we listed:
- Many times we didn’t get the correct email address, so was hard to send the review agreement to the right person
- Once the agreement was sent, we had no chance to see if it was viewed, signed
- Once we shipped from the EU to the States, we had no proxy to dispatch samples, but what was worse, we couldn't gather the samples to ship as one package back to our EU office.
- Magazines and influencers didn’t know or want to ship it back, especially because it meant for them time and shipping costs. They don’t have time for this.
Due to the lack of the right tools and processes, we lost a lot of time and money, but at that time I did nothing but move along.
Boards annually court submissions.
As a CEO of a few startups, especially backed by VCs there was always implemented a lot of red tape. The reports and condensed financial statements had to be signed by the CEO and the board. With that, the process showed how inefficient is:
- Our Operation Manager had to issue copies to one person, asking for a signature and shipping to another address.
- Each time everyone who received the copy had to pay for the shipping and later make reimbursement, fill out the xls with cost lists, get the special number for it, and add it as an extra to the invoice as an easy way, but the members that had no B2B contracts didn’t get refund that frustrated them
- Board Members working remotely had no idea where to ship documents next. For that there was no structured deadline for them, contact to the Operation Manager for an explanation of the document routing caused delays
This time tried to use tools connected via Zappier to automate the process, but failed, as the process was not standardized and easy for all the stakeholders.
Problem > Solution
For the last 8 years working with my partner's startups, we have had one interesting pattern that showed repeated issues that many tools tried to solve but in separate ways.
- how do send the agreement to a person with whom we don’t have even an email?
- how do convince one to pay for shipping back a signed document, or sample?
- what if we send the contract through a communicator (WeChat, Discord, and so on), how can we get that person's verification
- of how to use routing systems like round-robin or proxy for gathering items
- how to remain stakeholders on the deadlines for accepting the terms, shipping back documents/samples
- how do manage shipping back only if we have access to the mobile phone?
- how do keep track of taking signatures or checkbox acceptance before shipping?
- how do provide a to-do list for recipients without emailing them?
- how to ship, route, and return hand-signed documents with remote employees?
- how to control the lending of IT equipment to employees or contractors
The results of the few months of working on, was Flowix — Collecting Physical items with a single link
Flowix allows you to build a fast process for accepting terms and sending and receiving a borrowed item thanks to integration with the API of popular courier companies
Meet the App
Flowix uses two types of views
- Operator view
- Client view
Operator view is about setting the right workflows. This could be a workflow for the one-on-one, round-robin, or proxy that will gather all the documents/items and ship them back to the office.
Once the deadlines are set, the operator is getting into a making based on our template mini website where he can add
- Title and description (example — Collection of signed employment documents)
- To-do list — every complex process can be explained in an easy way.
- Branding — picked branding that will be seen by the recipient.
- Courier address — information where the items will be shipped depends on the routing method.
- Remainders — setting time for email/sms notification
- Uploading PDF with documents that need to be signed/accepted through a checkbox
- Generating power link — it’s the link that can be shared to the site
Once the mini-site is settled, the operator can share it through email or social media/communicators. The link contains Social Share Preview and access control to the document.
The client view is different, depending on the size of the screen, data will be displayed based on the initial security verification of the recipient.
Once the whole screen is accessible, the user will see information about the company, and deadline details with the Add to Calendar widget, document, and easy wizard that enables all steps to fulfill the process and download the complimentary shipping slip.
Where is the biggest value
As there are many scenarios for distribution, we had to manage within Flowix workflows that not only use external APIs know couriers but also set with partners proxies with our mailing address in Germany, United States, and Poland for starters to manage collective gathering distributed items. This means that instead of having 4 tools and 3 shipping services, we have one solution that can be a new Calendly for logistics.