Someone asked what my ultimate hopes are for Follow Me Post.
To become CEO of a huge corporation? To sell it and let someone else take charge?
If Follow Me Post grows, and someone else seems like a better fit to lead it, that's fine.
If I need to step up and acquire the skills to lead a larger company, I'm confident I could grow into that too, because I have one major skill:
I can adapt.
And that's why Follow Me Post's launch has been pulled back, because it's adapting too.
Every few months, a little shop in my little town is boarded up. Some weeks later, a business moves in, and tries to grow. We've lost the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker and gained an English tutor, web developer and Polish supermarket.
Change is unsettling. We want to know reasons.
The newspapers call it the "retail apocalypse", especially as so many well-known chains have gone bankrupt.
Twenty years ago, it was unthinkable that HMV, Dixons and Toys R Us would be gone. Instead, we have Amazon, a plethora of online storefronts, and high streets full of boarded-up windows.
Fingers point at Amazon, but we think it's more complicated than that.
At the start of the finance course, Franklin Allen waved airily in the direction of the camcorder hung at the back of the classroom and told his in-class students (who'd paid up to $200,000 to be there) not to mind the fifty thousand people watching, before rattling through net present value on the back of an envelope.
Some might have wondered why anyone would pay such an exorbitant fee when the world-class tuition was (literally) freely available, but they weren't paying for the lectures.
They were paying for human connections.
In London, there's an unspoken rule to avoid each other. But at that moment when it was over twenty degrees outside and easy forty inside, the rules changed.
It was a little after six on the train from London Bridge, and it had been a hard day. I was rushing around, over-caffeinated and under-fed. The carriage was dank and oppressive, filled with sweating bodies, each a picture of misery. I crammed myself in the best I could, dodging elbows and knees (and, mostly, armpits).
I clutched onto something - anything - as the train moved on.
The temperature rose further - past oven-hot into something else.
I don't know what happened next, but everything went dark.
So, here is where Follow Me Post will take flight.
But there's one thing to do first: just one more test.
by Chris Jordan and Jo Weber
We can use Zipf’s Law to find out when a geographical market will reach a certain size.
Say New York City has 7.3 million people and is ranked first, followed by Los Angeles at 3.4 million people.
Then look at the top fifty. The logarithms for population numbers and the ranks themselves.
The maths can be used to tell us when a city will reach a certain size. In 1800, just 3 percent of the world's population lived in cities, but urban-dwellers reached 30 percent by 1950. Today, more than half of the world's population live in cities, and it will be two-thirds by 2050.
The big hindrance to my startup ideas so far has been in living in areas with a small population. My town doubles in size every ten years.
This creates opportunities for online retailers as well as offline stores. The newcomers need a local corner shop to buy bread and milk, but they are also used to the convenience and choice of living in cities.
Going back to Reilly's “retail gravity”, there's a threshold market size that needs to exist before a good or service will be supplied to that market.
There's also a maximum distance that customers will travel to use that good or service.
Distance is a type of friction between you and a shopping goal. It doesn’t guarantee that you won’t buy a product or service, but just makes it a bit less likely that you will.
What better way to start the year than with more great things!
Follow Me Post now sells post-related goodies, such as envelopes and tape, through its online store.
The new book from Follow Me Post founder Jo Weber and Carry founder Chris Jordan is written by startups for startups.
If you are setting up your first business selling goods online or delivering parcels, you will need to understand what customers want and need, and how you can profitably help them.
The result of interviews with customers, retailers, couriers and parcel delivery businesses, Last Mile combines e-commerce industry information with the real experiences of founders like you.