I got to know Raul on Facebook after seeing a news on TV about his home delivery business in Baia Mare. “Here is an ambitious young man trying to make his way into business, I said to myself. He must have an interesting story”.
I wrote contacted him, and after a few days we met in Baia Mare where he told us about his business, about the first steps in the industry and about his future plans. You can read what I have learned below.
Raul, I know few young people who start a business on their own with their own funds at this age. What made you get into business?
I’ve always enjoyed working for the things I wanted. That’s why I did not expect to receive anything from anyone. As a proof, most of the things I have today are bought from the money I have earned.
“I’ve always enjoyed working for the things I wanted. That’s why I did not expect to receive anything from anyone”.
I started making my first money when I was 13, when I left on vacation to my aunt in Germany. She had a neighbor who needed help picking peaches. I helped him and I came back from the holiday with pocket money. I did that a couple of summers in a row.
I finished the Economic College in Baia Mare, but I decided not to continue with a university degree after I got my Baccalaureate. Everyone told me to do that, because that would give me better chances at a better job.
But I did not like the idea of being an employee; my dream was to start something on my own. I always wanted to do something for myself, something independent. During college, I enjoyed a lot the couses of entrepreneurial education and I was determined to go in this direction.
Still, I was aware that at that time I was not ready to do that yet. I did not even know where to start. So I postponed and tried to get as much practical experience as possible.
What jobs did you have until you started your first business?
I started by working as a delivery guy in Germany. After finishing high school, I went to Munich area where I worked for 6 months at a courier company. My purpose was to raise money for a car. It was hard, but it was worth it. After 6 months I bought my car and returned home. This is the car I’m currently using for deliveries. It was practically an investment for my business.
Then I worked for a while at an Italian company in Baia Mare, where I assembled electric mechanisms and small equipment for cars. I’ve always liked cars, mechanics, and driving. Unfortunately I didn’t feel free there, so I decided to try something else.
“MY FIRST BUSINESS WAS A SMALL FARM WHERE I BRED SOUTH-AFRICAN GOATS. I WAS 20 AND I STARTED IT TOGETHER WITH MY GRANDFATHER”.
I got hired as a driver at company that produced thermopane windows. I had to make deliveries all over the country. I had night deliveries and a very tiring program. I did what I liked, but at some point I did not resist. I used to work for 250 hours a month, that is, 16 hours a day, but I was paid 8 hours a day. So I left that place too.
What was your first business and how did it go?
My parents are not entrepreneurs and they were surprised by my ambitions to do business. Still, they support me as best as they can. One of the few major things I received was an inheritance from my grandmother who left me 400 square meters of land in the area of the city. I sold it and I invested some of the money in a small goat farm. I was 20 years old.
I bought 10 South African goats of Boer breed from the Netherlands. I took them to the Land of Lapuș to my grandfather, who asked me to bring him something to occupy his time with. During the week he was taking care of them, and during the weekend I took care of the farm, because in parallel I was also going to work.
“If you want your business to be successful, you have to get involved personally. If you are not 100% in your business, it will not work”.
In the first year I had small goats that I sold. The Boer goat breed is raised for meat and is very sensitive. That is why I lost some of the animals and eventually I decided to sell all of them. I learned a very important lesson after this.
If you want your business to be successful, you have to get involved personally. If you are not 100% in your business, it will not work. I don’t regret this business because this was my first business experience and it came with an important lesson. I realized that as long as I work and earn money, I can make other money.
How did you start your home delivery business?
This year, I learned from the internet that as of February 1, the government has eliminated the taxes for setting up a new company. After selling my goats I decided to put into practice another idea. I was inspired by a company from Cluj-Napoca and I adapted the system for Baia Mare.
“My customers are busy people who do not have time or availability and prefer to pay me to shop from them or deliver different products”.
At the beginning of June I went to the Baia Mare Trade Register Office and I registered as a self-emplyed business in the field of deliveries. My first customer came after a week. I started with private persons. My customers are busy people who do not have time or availability and prefer to pay me to shop from them or deliver different products at home.
Things started to work out, and after a while I began to offer another service: deliver orders from food places that do not have their own home delivery system – restaurants, fast food places or sweetshops.
Considering that most restaurants have only a few deliveries a day, it’s convenient for business owners to work with me instead of hiring someone for that purpose only and pay for the maintenance of company car.
What do you normally deliver and how much does it cost?
I deliver whatever the customer asks me to, most of the times it’s food from supermarkets, but I do shopping from the market as well. I am currently doing this for a kindergarten. I deliver ordered meals from restaurants; I delivered flowers and even medication. Someone felt bad and needed urgently medication from the pharmacy. I brought them with no problems.
“I work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every 4th order is free”.
Currently I work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most orders come in the evening and at night until 2am, but I also had orders at 4am. The prices are: a delivery during the day is 10 lei, at night 15 lei. Shopping up to 300 lei costs 25 lei, and for those that exceed this amount, the cost is 10% of the value of the bill.
I charge more for shopping, because there I take some product-related risks (sometimes customers change their minds for different reasons). I explain to those who call me that trust starts from me to them, because I pay for the products.
Every 4th order is free. This is how I encourage my customers to be loyal and call me. People see that I am serious and trustworthy, so I started to have regular customers. Many people ask me: have you ever had clients that called you then refused the order?
“If you are serious and treat the clients correctly, they will treat you the same”.
I believe that if you are serious and treat the clients correctly, they will treat you the same. I had orders in different parts of the city, central in the suburbs and I never had any problems. Moreover, most of my customers leave me a tip.
How do you see the future of your activity?
I want to have a team of 3-4 people. In Baia Mare there are only a few restaurants that have their own home delivery system. So I started talking with some of the restaurants and I hope to conclude long-term collaborations with them.
I also want to switch to an electric car. A small car with long range would be perfect for delivery in the city. I like Renault Twizy, I am looking for a convenient price. I often ask myself what I would do if my idea did not work. And after a few seconds I tell myself: it will work for sure!
“If I went to college, I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to do so many things by now. I try to have no regrets about anything. I take everything as it comes, both good and bad”.
In the first weeks, I had 2-3 orders. Now I rarely receive fewer than 5 orders a day. I have a cash register, I issue receipts, and my aunt helps me with accounting in the first months, and I will take over later on.
Raul, you did not have enough time to be a student. Do you miss it?
I realized that if I went to college I probably would not have had the chance to do so many things by now. There is also the possibility that someone else could have implemented the same business idea and then I would have lost the opportunity.
Generally speaking I try to have no regrets about anything. I take everything as it comes, both good and bad. I think you have to accept everything that is given to you. And if you want to do something in life you have to be ambitious, optimistic and serious.