[messengers] Padyak Power

Date: 12 Jul 2010 14:20:30 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Padyak Power


A seemingly simple concept gets an added boost thanks to
coordination, good word-of-mouth, consistent marketing and an earth-friendly
message that’s loud and clear at all levels




Manila Bulletin, July 11, 2010, 11:18am


If you’ve observed or encountered one of the many nameless,
faceless couriers that ply our streets on two wheels today, you can say the
following: one, very few of them take pride in their work; two, they rarely
have the patience to see things through, since many of them rely on getting
bulk deliveries done (quantity versus quality) to earn a paycheck; and three,
given the opportunity, many of them would gladly swap a bike for a motorcycle
for its power and perceived convenience.


But bucking the trend in creating another motorized delivery
service that would contribute further to urban pollution, a young entrepreneur
came up with a bike company that would offer deliveries that could be done
within the day, and with riders who were street-savvy and passionate about
biking or environmental issues (preferably both). She summarizes it with the
company motto "we honor our work, we serve your needs, we respect the


Be The Change


UP Mountaineer Candy Reyes hit upon the idea of offering
same-day delivery services when her sister Krie Lopez needed an eco-friendly
courier service for her own business: Messy Bessy Organic Household Cleaners.
With her contacts in the biking community and minimal investment, Reyes was
able to get the test service running and even recouped her expenses after a few


Trying to think of a catchy name that incorporated something
bike-themed, credit for the name “Pedala” goes to Gabe Mercado (of SPIT and Da
Pulis), and it was natural that the riders would be given bright yellow tops
for their uniforms featuring the Pedala name, logo and number—unmistakable
elements that easily distinguished riders from other couriers and also made
them easily seen when the company would sponsor their participation at biking
events like the annual Tour of the Fireflies.


But since she had a full-time job, Reyes knew she had to get
a partner for the fledgling business, one who would see the big picture, grow
the business and understand it the way she did to be able to deal with its
moment-to-moment needs. She didn’t have to look far as her friend Bernice
Varona ably stepped into the role. When asked how Candy convinced her to be a
partner in the business (or vice versa), Bernice says: “It wasn't really about
convincing each other—ever since Candy started the business I always thought
that it was great since it encapsulates the principles that I believe in too
(social enterprise which is also environmentally sound and promotes a healthy,
active lifestyle). We just got into talking one time and when she told me that
she was looking for someone to help her expand and develop Pedala, I grabbed
the chance.”


The Pedala Difference


Considering that Pedala offers same-day delivery (delivery
hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the cut-off time for requesting a delivery is
11 a.m.), people have availed of the service to deliver various items like
fresh flowers, food (in secure spill-proof containers that could be placed in
backpacks or bike panniers), retrieve things that were left at home (power
cords, wallets, cellphones or documents) or get a rush delivery done within two


This writer had the pleasure of encountering a Pedala rider
when an item was sent her way—and despite having waited more than several
minutes, the messenger was cheerful (read: genuinely smiling), polite and went
on his merry way to accomplish the rest of his deliveries. You could blame the
cheerfulness on an endorphin high, but the politeness and patience? Candy Reyes
laughs when this is mentioned and points out that “anyone who bikes 100
kilometers a day is a patient person.”

With a roster of full-time and part-time messengers, the mix
is composed of athletes who need to rack up mileage (and extra cash),
hobbyists, couriers who’ve passed Ms. Reyes’ scrutiny, and there’s even a
part-time chemist among their ranks.


With their three-year existence, Pedala has acquired a base
of loyal customers who also walk the eco-talk: Greenpeace, Messy Bessy (which
quotes Pedala delivery rates on its website), Starbucks, Blanc Bags, Indigo
Baby, Campaigns and Grey, Human Nature (Gandang Kalikasan) and Export
Printing—and the visibility of the riders as well as the good word-of-mouth
makes for good business.

Varona explains: “For now we are working on making our
bikers the main advertisers: people usually ask them what they are doing and
then get details regarding Pedala. Aside from that, we use websites like
Multiply and Facebook to reach more people. We also are involved in sports
events like bike races where the bikers also compete under Pedala, or we sponsor
other athletes. Soon we'll be targeting bike shops and other organizations.”
She agrees about how their reputation precedes them, adding: “The best way
though is through word of mouth—when our clients spread the word because they
are satisfied and also because they believe in the business.”


Asked about Pedala’s main difference, both Reyes and Varona
easily cite the same-day delivery service offered by the company. But another
factor that comes into play is the manner in which tasks are distributed: messengers
are not required to go to a central office to pick up items, instead the item
for delivery is picked up directly from the sender and sent directly to the
receiver. If the rider has to report to the office, it usually involves
remitting payments and getting more blank delivery forms.


Varona adds: “It’s different in the sense that it is also
based on an honesty system—the bikers could easily ride motorized transport to
get more deliveries done, but then they don’t do that. Also there's a human
connection—clients like the idea of the bikers doing their best to deliver
their goods, and they extend as well by offering bikers food, etc. The main
difference though is the same-day delivery: most other couriers do not offer


Copycats vs. Franchisees


While a copycat business of Pedala may not be far off, since
Reyes concedes that their business model is pretty simple, both she and her
partner agree that more bike messengers (even copycats) may be a good thing,
since it means less carbon monoxide-emitting vehicles on the streets.


For the moment, she “screens the applicants, but basically
they have to have knowledge of the roads here in Manila and are able to get around easily.
Requirements are NBI clearance, biodata, and an interview,” explains Bernice.
There’s a trial period as well, as riders get a feel of the routine and tasks
expected of them. Franchising is an option in the near future, and Ms. Reyes
says that Pedala can offer investors the benefit of being a pioneer in its
niche, its efficient operating system, uniforms/business forms—and most
importantly, a solid reputation built on trust and respect for the environment.



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