As a former member of Canada's men's gymnastics team, Jackson Payne knows what it's like to start small and go big. So when he started his delivery service company Deeleeo in the fall of 2020, he welcomed the challenge to grow it from an idea into a multimillion-dollar business.
"The act of starting your own business and the challenge that it is, the adrenaline you get doing something pretty risky and feeling the highs and lows, it compares quite a lot to being a professional athlete," the founder and CEO told Taproot.
Part of the journey for Payne was learning and gaining support from a series of programs set up to help startups grow.
Just a few months later, Deeleeo was one of 18 startups in Batch 2 of the Alberta Accelerator by 500, a program powered by venture capital firm 500 Global as part of the suite of accelerators brought to Alberta through the Scaleup GAP initiative. By October, when Deeleeo pitched at Startup TNT's Top 20 Pitch Night for Investment Summit VI, Payne said annual revenue in 2022 had exceeded $1 million, and the company was on track to do $10 million in 2023.
Now he's in the Alberta Innovates Revenue Accelerator powered by GrowthX, which focuses on helping startups win customers and grow revenue.
"We've seen some pretty encouraging results for the last couple of months with some of our software, so we're pretty excited," Payne said.
The company, which coordinates independent contractors to provide same-day delivery for businesses and individuals, has also raised roughly $1.5 million from private investors.
It's the behind-the-scenes technology that makes Deeleeo different from other delivery companies, Payne said. Deeleeo's software allows it to coordinate pickups and drop-offs "in an extremely efficient way."
Part of Payne's motivation is to allow small businesses to offer delivery, so that consumers don't default to Amazon because it's easier.
"I have a genuine mission … of wanting to make a delivery service as convenient and affordable as possible for these local businesses," he said. "I really do believe that with that type of system within a city, they all can compete really well against the Amazons of the world."
Deeleeo has delivery agents in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Vancouver. For 80% of the delivery fee, they deliver anything from cannabis to documents to coffee to flowers, though they leave restaurant-ready food to the services that specialize in that.
It's not just businesses looking for delivery services. Deeleeo drivers also get requests from people looking to deliver used goods such as furniture to Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace buyers.
Payne knows what it's like to need a delivery service for personal items — that's actually how the idea for Deeleeo was born — so he wanted to make sure that portion of the market was served, too, though they are no longer the main focus for Deeleeo.
"For those customers, it's more of a convenience than a real need," he said.
In the next three to five years, Payne wants to see thousands of Deeleeo deliveries happening in every major city in Canada.
"With the funds that we're currently raising, we're really, really confident we can get to those milestones."