© Red Je Pakketje

The Corona Bridging Loan (Corona Overbruggingslening, or COL) has been able to give Dutch companies some air in various ways in recent months. Or even saved them from ruin. Earlier, we wrote how Mentech was able to secure the validation of the new technology thanks to this loan. For SiteLucent, it meant saving time: “a bridge to better times”. And Ioniqa prevented a serious cash flow problem with it.

The same was the case with the Arnhem company Red je Pakketje (‘Save Your Parcel‘). The company, which within a few years already had become a big name in the logistics world, suddenly gained further momentum during the corona crisis. But that caused major problems, says Sam Rohn, CEO, and co-founder of Red je Pakketje. “We are the market leader in the Netherlands when it comes to Same Day Delivery with a 60 percent share. We do that with eight hundred employees for companies like Amazon, bol.com, Greetz, IKEA, and five hundred other webshops.”

Bouquet

Growth during corona was not only autonomous. There were also additional projects. Rohn: “In March flower cultivation collapsed, flowers were destroyed en masse. We have several florists as clients and they were looking for an alternative online sales channel. At the same time, 120,000 people in nursing homes were not allowed to receive visitors. Flowers for those people would of course be very nice, we thought. I put that thought on Facebook and after that, it went really fast. Within 24 hours there was a webshop and in the next four weeks, we sold 54,000 bouquets. People ordered a bouquet for 15 euros and it was put together by growers and given to lonely elderly people in nursing homes. We did this at the cost price. It was good for name recognition and very rewarding work as well. That project was temporary. Now that the florists have reopened, we will of course not compete with our customers.”

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Cash flow problem

But at the same time, Red je Pakketje slowly stumbled upon a serious challenge. A growth problem. “When the Netherlands closed down, people started ordering a lot more online. From mid-March onwards, we saw a growth of 169 percent in a short period of time. We had to invest. In April, we hired 180 extra people, added 60 cars to the road, and moved into a larger building. And then, we got a cash flow problem.”

“In April, we hired 180 extra people, added 60 cars to the road, and moved into a larger building. And then, we got a cash flow problem.”

Sam Rohn

Couldn’t growth have been slowed down a bit? “Of course we could also say no to potential customers, and sometimes we did, but we always kept looking for solutions. Our entrepreneurial heart was forcing us to do that, but above all, other entrepreneurs also needed us very badly at this difficult time.”

Lifebuoy

Raising more funding, which the company has done many times in recent years, was now suddenly difficult because investors were also putting the brakes on. “As a result, we quickly ran out of cash in a very short time. The survival of the company was in serious danger”. Rohn sought contact with Oost NL – one of the regional investment companies that handled the implementation of the COL – for advice. “They really took us by the hand. We had all our documents ready and once the COL was there, we could send everything immediately.” Three weeks later, Oost NL assigned the COL to Red je Pakketje. “We couldn’t have raised this any other way and then it might have been the end for our company, despite the fact that we were growing. It was our lifebuoy.”

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Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.