We chat to Kirrien Wilson, Managing Director of cycle delivery start-up ZEEM Logistics, about the inspiration behind the business, Clean Air Zones and the future of urban logistics.
Founded by two seasoned cycle couriers in 2020, ZEEM Logistics offers an ethical and environmental solution to cargo delivery.
Powered by its fleet of electric cargo and fixed gear bikes, the business began operating in January 2021 and already provides services ranging from takeaway food and parcel delivery to hotel-to-airport luggage transfers.
Myself and my business partner are cycle couriers. We met outside a fish and chip shop in May 2020 whilst on the job and got chatting, and we agreed that we could do it a lot better than the big company we were working for. We were both fed up with working for a company that treated us poorly and wanted to work for a business where financial gain for directors and shareholders didn’t come at the expense of the ethical treatment of staff.
A week later, we were writing a business plan and had begun talking to other start-ups doing a similar thing elsewhere. Two months after that we registered the company and began speaking to potential investors, and by January 2021 we were making our first deliveries.
We’ve proved that we can do things better. On average, all of our deliveries arrive 5-10 minutes early. Our customers are happier than they were with their previous provider. All of our staff are on at least £9.50 an hour and every year they will get a wage review – if the company is performing well, all staff get a wage increase. Our riders are on a minimum terms contract, so they are guaranteed a minimum amount of work, and usually get more than that.
And we’re a green cycle company – everything we do has to be environmentally friendly. We run on a fleet of fixed gear bikes for smaller items, and electric cargo bikes for larger items of up to 80kgs.
We also consult with our clients on how they can become greener themselves. For example, one of our clients uses reusable packaging that was being thrown away. They are now using our service to encourage regular customers to keep the packaging so we can collect it when they order their next delivery. Not only does that stop plastic being thrown into landfill; it’s also reduced our client’s costs.
We’re in a situation now where businesses are realising that they can’t just keep using vans in cities, not just from an environmental perspective but also from an economic perspective. When you look at the research by companies such as Pedal Me in London, who transport people as well as goods, cargo bikes are far more efficient and get from A to B quicker than vans and cars.
As Clean Air Zones come into play the business case for cycle logistics gets even stronger, especially as the market for electric vans isn’t quite there yet. Even as electric vans become more mainstream, we can still expect to see far more cargo bikes on the road for shorter distance journeys.