How does one go from working in the tech space to the moving industry?
Earlier this year, Wonjun Jeong, co-founder and CEO of Supermove (software for moving companies), connected with Carl Weaver from IAM to talk about how Supermove got started and the future of tech in the industry. Listen in on the conversation on IAM's Podcast.
What is Supermove?
Carl: So tell me, what is Supermove? What do you all do?
Wonjun: Supermove replaces paperwork for moving companies. We're a one-stop shop for moving companies to run their business end-to-end starting from sales, dispatch, scheduling, getting customer signatures, payments, and finally closing out with accounting and payroll. Anything that you do as a moving company that feels manual or repetitive, Supermove can take care of for you. We also can integrate with your systems too.
Carl: That's great. Does it also interact with the customers like these? Is there a way for customers to log in and and see where their shipment is or anything?
Wonjun: Yeah, there's a lot of cool things that you can do once you have some parts of your business digitized. I'm sure you've used Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash in the past –– you know how you can track your cars on your phone, and you go outside to meet them? Supermove can provide that experience too
Carl: That way you can see if they stopped at In-N-Out burger or have been there for a while?
Wonjun: Haha, yeah. All the dispatchers that use Supermove, used to get calls asking "Hey, where are my guys? I've been waiting for an hour. Where are they?" Those calls disappear because now we track the truck on your phone and customers know exactly where you are.
Why the moving industry?
Carl: That's really cool. So you talked about the origin of this, and I was curious, is that the origin that you were moving and frustrated because your guys were having lunch or is there more to it? How did you get into this space?
Wonjun: I studied computer science, and worked at Facebook and Pinterest as a software engineer. While doing that, I had to move 3 times in a single year. Moving is stressful and it's painful. It's expensive. I used a different moving company each time, and every single time they would use that paper contract bill of lading. They would bring it out before moving my items and had me sign and check all the boxes, and sign my things away with them. I have no idea what the contract was about, and every single time it was on paper. One time, on the last sheet of the paper, they took my credit card and literally scratched it in with their finger to remember the card number... and that just blew my mind. There are Square readers and other tools you can use to to be digital, why is this moving company not using it? It's probably the first time in over five years that I had to use a pen in order to sign something.
I got together with my co-founder, Mark. He's the brains and CTO of the team. We called a bunch of the moving companies here in the Bay Area, and I visited one in person. What I saw was stacks and stacks of paperwork, big paper calendars on the walls, typewriters, no technology whatsoever. This company was right in San Francisco, right next to the core of Silicon Valley. This business was still operating this way. So we spent a few nights and weekends building a quick prototype, an initial bill of lading product. They used it, loved it, started telling their friends about it, and it has been growing ever since.
Carl: That's interesting. So you're really a problem solver, and you saw sort of a niche, you saw something that didn't make sense, and you said "what's going on with this?"
Wonjun: Yeah, it just stuck out like a sore thumb. In the past, Mark and I used to build applications for nonprofit organizations for free. I worked on a project for the Berkeley Public Schools Fund and it was a similar experience where people who don't have technology accessible, get very used to paper, the original processes, because it works. Unless someone builds it or someone makes it work, they have no other means to do their work. So yeah, taking that experience and bringing it to the moving industry was really key as part of our history too.
"Paper works, why do I need to change?"
Carl: So what sort of push back, not on your product, but on the whole process, have you seen? What I'm thinking about is, let's say, I'm a small business owner, and I'm busy running my business. To update to new technology, I need to stop what I'm doing and talk to maybe an engineer or programmer and make sure that everything is working right. It sounds like a headache. Have you gotten a lot of response like that? And how do you deal with that? This is a question, the human side of my own inertia, "I've been doing it this way and paper works. Why do I need this?"
Wonjun: I'm the same way too. I use some old tech versus some of my peers, because it works. It's so comfortable. It's not as efficient or useful, but I don't want to spend time to change...and I don't think there's anything too wrong with that. You hit the nail on the head. One of the hardest parts of making Supermove successful is not the software. You can pull together engineers and build out software. The real hard part is the change. How do we get this industry that's been doing it the same way for over 100 years to adopt digital technology? That's always been the hardest part.
That's partly why one of the biggest investments that we make as a company is in the customer service and the customer success. The last thing we do is leave you with a login to our system and a couple of videos and hope you figure it out. Our onboarding and implementation is an involved process where we work with you to figure out exactly what you need and make sure it adapts to your current day-to-day. I think change is a very gradual, phased out process. It's very hard to do unless you have the right stepping stones in place.
The conversation continues in the full podcast episode. To listen, visit IAM's Podcast.