When we first spoke with Kelachukwu Ivonye a year ago, he was endeavoring to expand his venture, Arrow Food Couriers, outside the city of Louisville, Kentucky and beyond. Focusing on environmental impact and catering to lower socioeconomic neighborhoods, Ivonye was attempting to revolutionize the food delivery service industry. But a lot has happened in the last year. Ivonye has since exited Arrow Food Couriers and has invested full-time in his new venture, Mailhaven, a smart mailbox that, in tandem with its free iOS app, makes it easier than ever to track packages and keep them safe.
Of course, exiting a venture is a difficult choice to make, and it comes with its own set of challenges, lessons learned and hopes for the future. Ivonye says his decision came from the need to be realistic about his own future and the future of his investors and employees. “When I realized we did not hit our milestones at Arrow Food Couriers and fundraising would be a risky bet, I decided to shut it down,” he says. Ivonye then sold the company to another startup that saw value in Arrow’s remaining assets.
When asked what he would have done differently, Ivonye has a lot to say. He would have invested less in hard assets like delivery cars, for example, and focused more of the company’s resources on developing Arrow’s user technology. “I [also] wouldn’t have raised another angel investment after missing my milestones twice,” he adds. He then goes on to share these words of hard-earned wisdom, “It is always better to set hard milestones, and if you keep missing them, take a step back and look at the idea or method of execution.”
Ivonye’s list of regrets goes on, but he’s using the lessons he’s learned to fuel his efforts with his new venture, Mailhaven.
“Mailhaven has been electric; our traction and progress has been mind-blowing and makes me happy about my decision to move on to this,” he says. The company has added a cofounder, hired three part-time engineers and has raised $100,000 in funding—twice the amount Mailhaven set out to raise. The company has also joined the Highway1 Accelerator for its Spring 2017 cohort.
Mailhaven’s product pilot is slated to release this month, with five pre-orders already in the works. The public beta of the Mailhaven app is also scheduled to launch this month. “Mailhaven is how we are supposed to shop online in the 21st century,” Ivonye says. “Simply put, [it] is the best way to track, manage and receive online packages.”