Founder Spotlight: Matthew Lafferty, Curri CEO
Curri cofounders Matt Lafferty and Brian Gonzalez walking down a dirt road in Laos in 2012.
Here’s a lightly edited version of the conversation:
Q: Your background is fascinating, especially since it isn’t directly related to tech or startups. You were teaching English in Laos. What prompted your decision to return to the USA to establish Curri?
A: Brian and I both independently crafted business plans, unbeknownst to each other. Although we’d never discussed launching a business together, our friendship of 14 years gave me confidence that he’d be the ideal cofounder. But, before I could share my plan, Brian reached out via Twitter DM about initiating a venture together. That was the sign I needed. I then arranged my return from Laos to commence our business. By May of 2018, I was back in the US, and as they say, the rest is history.
Q: What challenges did you encounter when founding Curri that you wish someone had warned you about earlier?
A: Offering on-demand delivery at any point in time with cars and large vehicles from the get-go was like having a jack in the box in front of you everywhere you went. While it was exciting to get business and learn there were times when you just had to sleep with one eye open. No matter where Brian and I were, one of us would have to procure and fulfill a delivery at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it would take hours just to figure out how to make it happen. We didn’t say “no” to any delivery and that just became our practice. It has to be possible, let’s just figure it out. Not only that but operationally we’d have to keep an eye on every delivery and be super hands-on since not a lot of our tech was built in the early days. There were times when I’d have to hand deliver cash to some drivers who helped with a delivery. So I wish someone had let us know that anxious anticipation of delivery notifications prior to starting…but come to think of it, ignorance is sort of a great asset at times.
Q: How do you foresee your technology revolutionizing the construction industry in the coming ten years?
A: Every construction and industrial supply distributor location will know and use Curri. This will transform the entire supply chain from the manufacturing & distribution level to the job site level. There are trillions being moved annually and we’ll be the key player.
Q: Tell us about the evolution of the company. What were some of the key inflection points, and what did you learn from those moments?
A: Each inflection point fundamentally taught us to execute more efficiently and rapidly. Reflecting on those moments, the shift was from non-verticalized business deliveries to hyper-verticalized ones. This evolution started with contractors and later focused on the distributors of construction and industrial supplies.
Another pivotal moment was our participation in YC Summer 2019. Securing our seed funding marked another significant inflection point, as did each subsequent funding stage. We have since broadened our services to encompass all vehicle types nationwide, and we are now venturing into paid software offerings.
Q: Coming from a unique background, you’ve realized the power of storytelling. How has this skill specifically furthered your business?
A: To me, storytelling encapsulates the past, present, and future. It’s invaluable for maintaining clarity among current stakeholders and for briefing potential ones. Storytelling forces you to simplify and codify your message. I like to keep the past, present, and future framework in my head since things aren’t static, and adapting quickly is paramount. When everyone is aligned with the story there’s great synergy unlocked for the company.
When you know the story is clear and succinct it’s a really good gauge when deciding whether or not to bring in new stakeholders. Knowing they are fully aligned will help propel the company to the next level as opposed to being a drag on your velocity.