(Editor’s note: Dispatches Europe tracks the tech scene – startups, scale-ups and mature companies – across Europe because so many of our highly skilled internationals are engineers, developers and entrepreneurs. This post about Bloq.it in Lisbon is part of our Tuesday Tech series.)
Those of us who live in Portugal know very well receiving packages is not exactly a piece of cake. It is not uncommon to get a text message informing you that you were not home for the delivery when you were home all day or that your package was delayed for this reason or that reason. It also happens often that you do not manage to adjust your availability with the time of the arrival of the courier.
Many packages are delivered when you are at work, and not everybody’s work conditions allow them to receive parcels during their working hours. Therefore, it was not a surprise for me that Bloq.it was listed as one of the most promising Lisbon-based Startups in 2021 as they are working on solving this persistent issue.
Joao Lopes, one of the founders of Bloq.it, tells us about a future with smart lockers:
What does Bloq.it do exactly?
We are developing technology for smart lockers. Smart lockers nowadays are needed in multiple industries, and (the sector) is growing very fast. They allow you to pick up or return your online orders. Instead of the order being delivered to you in person, you retrieve it from a smart locker which is available 24/7. This idea is beneficial for everybody.
Many people can’t receive their parcels as they work at places where this is impossible or because their job includes moving around. It is also very useful for retail as some shops have the click-and-collect option. However, instead of having two or three employees at reception handing in the pre-ordered items to customers in-store, we allow them to automate this process by depositing the item in a locker.
Where did the idea come from?
We started off with a different idea two and half years ago. I was in a U.S. accelerator in Silicon Valley. One of the co-founders used to go to the beach all the time, and he always saw this person behind a desk storing people’s items. People would pay him to keep their bags somewhere safe.
We were inspired by this idea and decided to create an interface that allows you to locate nearby lockers on the app and store your belongings wherever you go. Then, we realized this technology we use was growing immensely in e-commerce and retail, so we adapted our business needs to work with other companies and provide them with easier ways to deliver their products.
Could you tell us a little bit about your funding story? Usually, other people dreaming of setting up their own startups find inspiration in that.
We were quite lucky with funding as we found a business angel at a very early stage. It is not very easy for early-stage startups to get funding in Portugal. All investors who joined felt this was an important project and believed very much in the idea.
What are the main achievements/milestones of Bloq.it so far?
In terms of achievements, we grew fast. 2021 was our first full year in the market. Our revenue grew more than 2000 percent. We closed deals with partners in France and the Netherlands in Europe and in Peru in South America as well as Egypt in Africa.
Our main achievement this year has been our ability to understand how we fit in the market and figuring out what it needs at the moment.
And what are your plans for Bloq.it in the future?
We want everybody to participate in e-commerce without worrying about packages and deliveries. We are also focused on sustainability, because the number of packages traveling around is huge. The constant movement of courier companies is creating traffic and CO2 emissions. Having a smart locker is a great solution as it allows the companies to be more efficient and pollute less.
Instead of delivering 20 packages to 20 different doors – risking that the person may not even be home and having to repeat the delivery – couriers can simply go to a smart locker and deliver the 20 packages in one place without the risk of packages not being delivered.
This reduces cost of gas-miles as well as emissions. Our goal is for companies to adopt this system to further accelerate e-commerce market growth.
About the author:
Sarah Nagaty is a PhD researcher of cultural studies in Lisbon. She’s lived in Portugal for three years.
As a student of cultural studies, Sarah is drawn to what connects people from different backgrounds to new cultures and places, how they relate to their new surroundings and what kinds of activities they could engage with in their new hometowns.