Noticing the common frustrations shared by retailers and carriers, David Grimes, CEO and founder of Sorted Group, set off to become the global technology choice for retailers looking to improve retail and e-commerce efficiency.
David shares his founder journey this week with Top Business Tech and tells us how Sorted Group has become the go to choice for recognised brands such as Mindful Chef, Lush, and Asos.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
A: I’m David Grimes, and I’m founder and CEO of Sorted Group.
I studied at Cambridge, where my attention was caught by the branded merchandise always being peddled at student fairs and the like. I remember asking a few stalls who their supplier was, and they just shrugged and said they googled them. Coming up to leaving uni, I was also determined to keep my independence and be my own boss. Bringing the two together, I set up my own branded merchandise business, which I ran upon graduating. One issue I always ran into while doing this was shipping stock. It would take ages waiting at the Post Office, and I couldn’t set up a business account as the company wasn’t large enough. Frustrated by this, and looking for a new challenge, I founded My Parcel Delivery to help SMEs everywhere who had the same issues. The team and I enjoyed great success here, but eventually, the opportunity presented by a Sorted-sized hole in the market proved too tempting. It turns out that retailers of all sizes are facing frustrations with their carrier and delivery operations; whether they’re growing ecommerce brands or massive global enterprises. So that’s where Sorted was born.
There were plenty of challenges, but also plenty of success, and the business grew to where it is today – serving some of the world’s largest retailers and carriers from Manchester, one of the UK’s leading tech hubs.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
A: Sorted is a delivery experience platform. We provide agile and data-driven shipping, warehouse management and checkout technology for some of the biggest global carriers and retailers. Quite simply, we’re looking to become the global technology choice behind retail and e-commerce, and our consistent growth across all markets is making that goal more realistic every day.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your business?
A: I’ve always been an entrepreneur, someone who wants to tackle challenges head on. With Sorted, I was looking to solve the challenge for retailers of being tied into very limited shipping options from established market players. Running a parcel delivery business prior to this, I had seen first-hand how businesses just didn’t have agile enough technology underpinning their deliveries, which had an impact on both customer satisfaction and the bottom line. Service was poor, and delivery was frustratingly slow and expensive. Sorted was founded to help solve that issue and deliver against the ecommerce industry’s rising consumer expectations.
Q: What is the core technology driving your platform?
A: Our data-driven SaaS technology platform runs frictionless online checkouts, warehouses and shipping around the world integrating with leading carriers.
Q: Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
A: Raising money is hard – you need to ensure that whomever you seek investment from is culturally aligned and will offer guidance. Managing growth is also a challenge: while hiring and growing your business is exciting, there are also obstacles that come with this. As a founder used to working in a small team, the changing dynamic as we grew our staff from 10 to 30 to 100 and beyond took some adjusting to. You need to understand that things won’t be the same, and have to learn to let go. Getting the right team in place is half the battle. But that the journey is also incredibly rewarding. The people culture we’ve built at Sorted is something we’re incredibly proud of, and the best really is yet to come; we’ve got exciting new clients to announce and a strong roadmap of new features for the product coming down the line.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
A: I’m excited by what we’re doing at Sorted every day because we’re uniquely placed to work with the new generation of e-retailers. Our technology is second to none, and we’ve kept developing it through every stage of our growth, from signing our first customer back in 2013, to securing our first funding, to operating as we do now, with software live in 17 countries across the globe. In a hugely complicated market, the investment in product and experience has paid off, and we are confident with our agility and service that we can out-manoeuvre the incumbents.
Q: What is your plan to adapt if your industry is completely disrupted?
A: Covid-19 has done a pretty good job of disrupting the retail sector! The impact on staff, stores and customers has been immense, and driven the world to digitise at a faster rate than previously imaginable. The consumer demand has been huge, and to survive, retailers have had to speed up their transformation plans and invest ahead. It has been great for us – we’re seeing lots more businesses actually turning to Sorted to help them navigate the new retail landscape, where their audience has moved from store to online almost entirely overnight. We’re a fast-moving, agile company, so we’re in a good position to help others meet the challenges of a changed fulfilment model during and beyond Covid-19.
Q: Do you see this as UK centric or will you conquer the world by going global?
A: Very much the latter. We’re already operating across Europe and the US, and with the world (despite current circumstances), an extremely interconnected place, it would be crazy to focus just on the UK when the world of e-commerce is a truly global beast. Our clients are brave, ambitious and rapidly growing – so we want to be wherever they want to be, to make sure we’re enabling and supporting their growth. Of course, we have brilliant customers who do operate in the UK alone, but our vision is to be a worldwide solution.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
A: When it comes to funding your business, it can be very tempting to seize the first opportunity that comes your way. However, investment from others, whether VC, Angel investors, whoever, needs to come not just with good business terms, but also a strong culture fit. In fact, I think I negotiated the first lot of Sorted investment over a pint in a Manchester pub!
Simply put, you need to be on the same wavelength as your investors; prepared to take the same chances and looking to deliver the same results. Otherwise, you’ll be pulling in different directions and this will stall the growth and development of your business.
Learn more about Sorted Group and what the SaaS platform has to offer by visiting their website: www.sorted.com