Ugochi Owo is the founder and CEO of Flindel, a reverse logistics and prop-tech startup focused on automating commerce returns. They make returning anything ridiculously easy for consumers of retail businesses and viable for retailers. They make it possible for consumers of retail stores to drop off their returns from the comfort of their homes, without risking the exposure and inconvenience of venturing outdoors. Ugochi shares with us how her company has adapted to the current landscape, advice on financial resources available, which solutions have been more successful, and which area of her business has been getting the bulk of her focus.
What area of your business is getting your most energy and focus?
In light of COVID, we have had to direct much of our resources towards supporting the surge in demand for our services. Retailers are looking to optimize the experience of their consumers and profit off of every return, while property managers are eager to partner with us towards increasing the safety of their tenants.
What is the most important problem you are trying to solve?
We are making the headache of commerce returns a thing of the past. We believe in a future where returning anything will be as easy as ordering a pizza from your phone.
What has been your most successful solution so far?
Our services for property management groups towards helping increase the safety of their tenants have been our most requested offering in light of the pandemic. We’ve made it possible for tenants to drop off their returns from the comfort of their homes without having to risk exposure and be inconvenienced to head to the store or post office. This model has especially been proven a necessity in light of COVID-19, and is why our business is quickly becoming among the leaders in this space. Property Managers are eager to integrate our amenity into their spaces to continue their ongoing responsibility of keeping their tenants safe. We are looking forward to continuing to support this initiative.
How have you been staying connected with your customers and employees?
Tools like Workplace by Facebook, frequent email updates, and check-ins are great for keeping everyone connected.
“Keep going, regardless of how tough things may seem currently, the path always clears for the determined. Remember why you started this journey and keep moving forward.”
What advice do you have for businesses struggling with their finances?
My advice is to find creative ways to increase cash flow, especially during these times. One of my favourite stories is that during the 2008 US Presidential elections, a struggling company at the time paid off over $20k worth of credit card debt by producing limited-edition cereal named after the leading candidates, Barack Obama, and John McCain. That company grew to be what we all know as Airbnb and is now worth more than the five largest hotel chains combined. There is always a way for the determined. Do what you need to do to ensure that the business survives.
What has surprised you?
What makes the startup industry so magical is its pay it forward culture. Most people are willing to share their stories, grant a listening ear, or make introductions because someone once helped them on their journey. I love this and I try to do the same as well and make myself available for upcoming entrepreneurs. My Twitter DMs are always open @ugochiowo
How far ahead are you planning?
As the economy continues to shift, we are collecting data points to aid in our prediction of what the future will look like. We try to have as much foresight as possible by looking at patterns in historical data for our industry. We think both long term, short term, and give ourselves the grace to learn as we go while understanding that no plan is ever truly concrete. No one would have been able to predict the sheer economic impact of the pandemic, however, the flexible entrepreneur is able to make adjustments accordingly.
What keeps you positive?
Imagining the future and the impact of what we’re building fuels my optimism. We are so excited to be surrounded by incredible minds who are driven by the sheer determination to build something that will have a long-lasting impact on this industry.
What message do you want to share with entrepreneurs right now?
Keep going, regardless of how tough things may seem currently, the path always clears for the determined. Remember why you started this journey and keep moving forward.