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Road to success guided by good advice

Startup Aotearoa

Seeking help from a startup adviser is helping Claim My Ride stay on track for growth

Journalist

Mary Hurley

Claim My Ride founder Craig Burton

As Manawatū based Craig Burton travelled to and from his rental properties, tracking vehicle expenses in logbooks and on random pieces of paper he found himself thinking, ‘there has to be a better way’. There wasn’t. At least, nothing specific to New Zealand. 

Seeing a gap, Burton – who had always had an entrepreneurial bent – went all in. When he did, he realised it wasn’t just landlords trying to claim vehicle expenses.

“It’s increasingly becoming a need for people out there, probably because they don’t do it or don’t know how they do it, or they just rely on their accountants to make it up,” he says. 

“There’s a massive audience of sole traders that need to have a little more diligence around their vehicle expenses”. 

With the help of a web developer and a new appreciation for his customers, Burton designed Claim My Ride to simplify the process of  recording vehicle expenses using the IRD-approved kilometre rate method. The platform is largely directed towards gig workers, sole traders, contractors, and employees claiming from employers. 

And the market interest is there: “We’re still in an early launch phase, but I’m already seeing good organic growth and subscribed premium users,” Burton says. 

While focused on New Zealand for now, Burton has global ambitions and sees Australia as the next target. He plans to use the jump across the ditch to understand what it takes to tune into the specifics of each market. 

“Every country has different ways of claiming vehicle expenses; the opportunity is huge, but there are lots of players in the space,” Burton says. Abroad, he thinks he could offer a similar service for a cheaper outlay than his competitors. 

To date, Burton has put the platform together independently and on a shoestring budget. 

“It’s been an interesting process for me to go through that without any real mentor or guidance in that regard,” he says. 

But with a few hundred users, Burton’s ready to transform Claim My Ride from “a bit of a side project”. To do that, he contacted Startup Aotearoa. 

Startup Aotearoa mentor Benji Pritchard

Getting in the trenches

Through Startup Aotearoa, Burton was paired with Benji Pritchard, a self-described startup addict and an entrepreneur. Now a startup specialist at Manawatū startup incubator The Factory, Pritchard previously worked at Creative HQ, managing their pre-incubation program, coaching startups, running workshops, organising speaker sessions, and facilitating accelerators.

Having been in the trenches, Pritchard knows what it’s like to be a new founder, hence his decision to be a coach.  

“As a founder, you’re spread thin, and it’s a really big thing. Do I start over here with branding? Do I start over here by talking to people? Do I start over here? Do I have to build a full product?” 

With so many directions one can go, having someone who has done it before is crucial, Pritchard says. 

One of his favourite tools for early-stage founders is establishing an “assumption map”. 

“There are different ways you can do it, but it’s working out what parts have you just assumed during this process? And how can we turn that from an assumption to a known.” 

While each founder’s journey with the assumption map will be different, he says when you have it in place, starting up is much easier. 

With Claim My Ride, Pritchard went back to the foundations, directing Burton to validate the product and, with that feedback, shift to a more customer-centric approach. 

Using Pritchard’s assumption map, the pair identified a gap in Burton’s business.

“I thought everyone would know about this, but people don’t necessarily understand how it works and the importance of recording vehicle expenses; 95 cents per kilometre can stack up quite quickly,” says Burton. 

It made him realise an education piece was necessary for the product. Pritchard also directed Burton to establish a customer journey map to ensure he hits every customer touchpoint. 

The Claim My Ride platform

Shooting straight

While reaching out to programmes like Startup Aotearoa can be daunting, Burton and Pritchard encourage it. 

“You get a lot of people that get caught up in the IP, but if you don’t talk to anyone, you can’t really progress.” 

Get some advice, no matter how early or how progressed you are, Burton says. 

Pritchard agrees, saying that when it comes to Startup Aotearoa, it doesn’t matter if all you have is an idea or if you’re at the raising investment stage. It is simply about working with a coach who can give you the tools and direction you need to progress, he says.

“It’s a good opportunity to have someone as that kind of sounding board that you can talk to.” 

This story was brought to you by Startup Aotearoa.‍

Journalist

Mary Hurley

Mary Hurley brings three years experience in the online media industry to the Caffeine team. Having previously specialised in environmental and science communications, she looks forward to connecting with founders and exploring the startup scene in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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