There’s a reason why Granville Island Delivery Co.’s founder Michelle Ng was on the cover of Entrepreneur’s issue celebrating “entrepreneurial ingenuity during the pandemic”. Michelle’s story is special, a pivot to end all pivots.
Her first company, Vancouver Foodie Tours, had been taking tourists out to explore the best of the city’s culinary offerings for just under a decade when COVID hit. “After the emergency was announced in March 2020, we obviously couldn’t take people out on these tours. So, we paused them, and two days later, we pivoted the business.”
Michelle’s brilliant idea was Granville Island Delivery Co., a way for her to continue supporting the merchants she cared so much about. If people couldn’t come to these makers, Michelle could bring these makers to the people. At first, the company was a food delivery service, but it evolved into a local artisanal gifting company. Nowadays, it is becoming an increasingly popular option for companies who want to attract and retain great talent by offering a better employee experience.
“I asked myself, ‘How can we continue to be useful to the community while utilizing our strengths?’ What my two businesses have in common is that they bring people together and create common ground. When strangers come on a tour, they become friends over the course of that two-to-three-hour experience. And when you give or receive a box from Granville Island Delivery Co., it builds emotional connection.”
As strong as Michelle’s concept was, launching it was no simple matter. What made her pivot truly challenging were the personal circumstances she suddenly found herself in.
“When I was creating Granville Island Delivery Co., we found out my husband had a brain tumour. He was scheduled for surgery on April 1st, which meant I had two weeks to get my business online before I needed to take time off to care for my husband and son. There were so many issues we had to navigate as a family, but I did get the business up on time—in ten days’ time, in fact!”
Fortunately, Michelle found plenty of support amidst the adversity. Vancouver’s business community was quick to rally behind the new business. “They were spreading the word, ordering gift boxes, lending me their skillsets. A lot of people were supporting me and asking for nothing in return.”
One partner that emerged to help Granville Island Delivery Co. realize its gift box concept was, of course, Great Little Box Company/Ideon Packaging (GLBC). “GLBC prints our boxes, but they’ve offered so much more than that. They educated us about what we needed, and what would work. We would have made expensive mistakes without their help. Their communications are very upfront and proactive. For example, if there’s a shortage of corrugate in the market, they let us know and strategize with us to meet our timelines.”
Michelle is clear on the value she wants her company to continue offering: “I want to make thoughtful giving easier for people and organizations. We can even help companies to plan out their giving in advance, making the whole process more efficient. I just want to help people show that they care!”
As she does, we’re proud to make the packaging part of her work that much easier.