“There is No Playbook When You’re Inventing,” says Rudy Callegari of Zootly

Moving can be a tough and inconvenient process. Most would want to move their stuff from point A to B with minimal trouble. Fortunately, there is Zootly: an on-demand services app that allows users to locate moving trucks nearby. With this app, acquiring licensed, insured, and experienced moving partners is now no trouble at all.

The startup was co-founded by one Rudy Callegari in 2014. At present, the company has offices in both Toronto and New York. With a history of creating innovative companies, Zootly was not Rudy Callegari’s first rodeo. His years of experience in advertising, logistics, marketing, and transportation may have done well to prepare him for his latest undertaking, but it was a common inconvenience that gave him inspiration.

The Trigger

“I was in the New York office of a company I co-founded in 2006, Edge Auto Rental, and needed to move a couch from my office to my brother’s office.” Rudy explained. “I quickly found that this was a lot harder than I expected.”

The transportation and moving industry at that time had not yet been penetrated by apps and other related technology. “I realized there was a problem here and that we might be able to come up with a solution that could change consumer behavior and help repair the bad image of the moving industry.”

Starting Out

Soon enough, Rudy and his partners met with the Department of Transportation to further develop their understanding of the moving industry and to set up a moving company of their own. Rudy and his partners invested almost $1 million of their own money before bringing in the first round of investors.

Concerning specialists that their business needed, a great tech team was needed, along with an incredibly team of marketers to get the word out. Beyond those needed to work on the app, well-trained movers were another necessity.

“We got the most reputable, licensed, insured and fully vetted through our rigorous standards, so customers would grow to expect the best from us and referrals would happen based on our good reputation.” Rudy said.

Within the first thirty days of marketing, the company managed to certify 49 partners, which accounted for more than 360 moving vehicles in New York City alone. For the marketing efforts, tools such as Marketo, Salesforce, and Hootsuite, among others were employed.

On Business, Life and Culture

“I don’t believe in work-life balance. I believe in work-life integration, so I work when and where I can,” says the father of five.

As a self-proclaimed problem solver, it is part of Rudy’s nature to take initiative. This extends to the type of people he wants on his team: those who work hard and care just as deeply. “I want everyone to be connected with what we’re trying to build and motivated by the problems we’ll solve. I don’t expect anything of them that I don’t push for in myself.”

By mixing business discipline, creativity, and hard work, Rudy has created a fine balance at Zootly that allows people to do what they do best whilst trusting them to get it done. He also credits members of his management team for their continued success.

“We all uphold the responsibility of our individual roles,” Rudy said, “but our collective management is as equally important to the success of the company.”

On Advice and Lessons Learned

One of Rudy’s first business ventures was Bright Pictures, which he founded in 1993. Fast forward twenty-three years, he can still recall just how much help he got from others in the way of advice, accountability, and nudges.

“I was young, but the level of confidence placed in my by clients affirmed to me that I should never stop being persistent, hardworking, creative, or ambitious.” Rudy says. “I should also continue to figure out brand new ways to solve old problems while I’m at it.”

If he were to dispense his own brand of wisdom to those who wish to start their own company, here are some that he’d like to share: “Don’t worry about mistakes. It just means that it’s taking you longer to find the answer. The truth is – you’re finding your own way and there is no playbook when you’re inventing.”

He would also stress the importance of looking for problem solvers. “Look for people who get things done. Look at how much time it takes them to fix their problems. The difference between good and great is the amount of time it takes to fix a mistake.”

Rudy also has words to say about excuses: “Stop them at the door. The time it takes to come up with an excuse could be time devoted to taking steps towards finding a solution.”

Lastly, he stressed the importance of paying attention to customers.

“Their opinions will almost always be honest and unfiltered, which can help you understand your business on new levels and consider new angles. Customers are also your best marketers. Their word of mouth can’t be matched by advertising or any campaign you could ever afford.”

Business Writer
Not weird enough for the freaks. Not obsessive enough for the geeks. Thoroughly laconic but will communicate for food/existential expression. Graduated with a Degree in Marketing Management but chose to write for a living instead.

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