Navy Veteran Is Delivering Success With His Last-Mile Logistics Company
Morgan Hoogvelt, Navy Veteran & Founder of Gohfr
Tell us about you and your military background:
My name is Morgan Hoogvelt and I reside in Helotes, TX…a little suburb right outside San Antonio, TX. I spent 8 years in the US Navy, on both sides of the coin (prior enlisted and officer). I separated in December of 2004 as a Lt. JG and had spent a couple years on the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), which was probably most interesting to me as living on a ship is a very unique experience. During my time on ‘the boat’, I completed a North Atlantic deployment, Caribbean workups, and a Med cruise.
Tell us about your business:
My business is Gohfr, Inc. and we are headquartered in Helotes, TX and serve the surrounding region from Austin, TX down to the Rio Grande Valley. I conceptualized the business idea in 2017 and started my journey to launch the business; we went live in December of 2020.
Gohfr is an on-demand delivery platform that connects businesses with people in order to deliver their goods and packages in a speedy time frame. Mainly, our target customers are businesses of all sizes and we deliver items such as medical devices, marketing materials, pharmaceutical prescriptions, pre-packaged meals, medical supplies, beauty products, legal documents, etc.
Describe how you got the business started:
When you are trying to bootstrap a business, it can sometimes take longer than one would like. As mentioned, I conceptualized the idea in 2017 but the concept did not go live until 2020. We are a technology company in the delivery space and building technology can be expensive. I had quotes to build my platform that ranged from $120,000.00 to $400,000.00 on the high end - the entire range was unaffordable for me. I worked hard and saved a decent amount of money and then found a ‘Technology Partner’ who built the Gohfr Platform for me at a discounted rate in exchange for a small piece of ownership in my company. I paid a fraction of what it would have cost me to hire an App development company and the product that was delivered is far more advanced than what I would have received for more money…it worked out.
I did a fair amount of research before I got started but also, I did not overwhelm myself with the competition and by doing tons of research. I believed that I had a good idea and that I could be successful running this type of business so I went with it. I have no experience, no education, no training, and no mentorship in the last mile logistics space. In fact, it has been a learning curve for me but I believe in the ability to learn, apply, and execute quickly - this is a big piece of what the military taught me.
My first customer came very quickly, in fact.
“My first customer is where I saw a broken process and conceptualized my idea.”
Then, when I had the idea live and ready to go, I pitched it to them, they loved it, and brought me onboard to serve some of their markets. It was a match meant to be.
Tell us why you wanted to become an entrepreneur:
My biggest influence and inspiration is my Dad. He has worked for himself as a General Contractor for over 50 years…he’s never held a corporate job, never sat in an office, never had a paycheck every 2 weeks…yet, he always provided a humble living for our family. We always had a roof over our heads and food on the table. I thought to myself that if he had the strength, nerve, and belief to do it, that I could as well.
“I took a chance on starting my own business as all success in life is driven by chance.”
Some get lucky and others may not, but if you never take a chance; there will never be any reward. I was always lucky enough to hold good ‘corporate jobs’ and if I chose to stay the path, I could have worked in some company and been fine. Fine but not happy. I got tired of working so hard and yet reaping little to no benefits, I got tired of being downsized (3 times), and really tired of putting all my efforts on the table and not seeing the full rewards of my efforts.
Describe how your military background prepared you for entrepreneurship:
Joining and serving in the military was the single greatest thing that I ever did for myself. We can all take away various things or nothing at all from any experience. For me, I learned how to work hard, persevere, how to dress professionally, how to carry myself, how to talk to higher up leaders, how to deal with problems, and how to never quit. I learned that I could do anything because in the Navy, I did everything. The time I spent in the service was invaluable.
Tell us about some of your obstacles and challenges, and how you overcame them:
The biggest obstacle and challenge for me was funding the business. As I previously mentioned, technology and App development is not cheap. I bootstrapped a recruiting business previously and all in startup costs were around $2k. For my Gohfr idea, I had quotes of up to $400,000.00 to build an App and that didn’t even include the monthly maintenance fees these companies wanted to charge me for routine maintenance and bug fixes.
However, I never doubted the idea and looked at all types of ways where I could self fund and get my App built. By never giving up and through some good prayer - I was led down a successful path that worked for me.
I have a college degree in International Business, some worldly experience from the military, and also a decent amount of corporate experience; pieces of everything definitely helped and some did not. Personally, I believe in taking the good and bads from every experience and holding myself to the ‘goods’ and then never being like the ‘bads’ if that makes sense.
Describe how you’re doing today and what the future looks like:
For 2023, we are on track to do a bit above $300k in total revenue. Each year we have doubled our revenue and are excited to see what the future holds. We have also expanded our delivery operation to Austin, TX and the Rio Grande Valley and will be opening the Jacksonville, FL market this month. We see the sky as the limit with this business.
We will have to continue to ensure our technology meets the needs and goals of our customers and change as they do, we will also have to be able to pivot to capture new business and provide more offerings/solutions for our customers.
The long term vision is to have a Gohfr business in every city across the United States; and we think it is very possible. In 2023 we will look to potentially franchise the business as our business plan is very low overhead, easy to start, strong support, and the technology is very easy to replicate everywhere.
Share some advice with your fellow veteran entrepreneurs:
I don’t believe there was anything I would have known or done better. Starting a business is a journey full of different paths and too much information. There are a billion resources out there and then everyone has a different opinion on how and what you should do. I joined local startup networks that told me that my idea would go nowhere, I had an App developer tell me my idea was bizarre and no one would use me and it would have been easy to get down and listen to all the negativity.
“I say to write your own story and follow your gut.”
Only talk to and take advice from those who have your true interest at heart - they will want to see you succeed. Secondly, don’t rush an idea or jump into a franchise. It's important to understand the long term costs, implications, and time that it will take to put into your business to be able to reap the rewards.
Lastly, you may feel that someone else is already doing your idea. However, the idea may be similar but no two businesses are alike. You can have a similar idea but do things better or a bit different. At the end of the day, people will buy because of YOU, not because of anything else.
Where can we go to learn more: