Stress reMuval

UQ graduate helps make moving easier

An image of UQ graduate James Morrell (left) with Muval partner Mahdi Chardi.

Moving house is currently ranked in life’s top five stressors, so why not make it simpler? That was the logic behind startup company Muval’s launch into the transportation of our worldly goods and chattels. Now, the company is helping to ease some of the extra stress associated with moving during the COVID-19 crisis.

James Morrell (Bachelor of Communication / Bachelor of Social Science ’13) is no stranger to the startup adventure. Immediately after graduating, he moved to New York to work on The Audio Hunt, which he spent the next three years developing.

Upon returning to Australia, he worked as a freelance website builder before joining forces with current business partner Mahdi Chardi, who had been running a Sydney-based moving company, Move Me Group, for four years. Together, they now run Muval, a startup business for people wanting to move their home or workplace items.

“We know that moving is ranked as one of the five most stressful experiences people go through in their lifetimes,” Morrell said.

“Mahdi’s work provided insight into the stress and worry people experience.”

However, while at Move Me Group, Chardi had also identified an opportunity for removal companies to be more efficient both financially and environmentally. The pair decided they could build a tech solution to improve efficiency for these logistics companies, while creating a less stressful and competitive offer for consumers looking to move.

“Removal companies often send their trucks interstate with spare space available, Morrell said.

“Our solution, Muval simply helps make that space available for people who want to use it."

Interstate removalists call this practice ‘backloading’, where you either place your load on a truck returning from its initial journey or you fill the back of the truck on a load that’s already travelling.

The strategy is not new to logistics companies but the technology solution, allowing everyday consumers access to it, is.

“Muval lets users view options they wouldn’t be able to see in regular online searches, like empty space in trucks booked on separate trips,” Morrell said.

A generic image of a couple moving into a house.

In its first year of operation, Muval made $1 million in revenue and, just six months later, that revenue had doubled.

But since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Australian shores, like all business owners, Morrell and the team have had concerns around how this might affect their business.

“If Stage 4 lockdown was to occur here like it has in the US and across parts of Europe, moving could be banned.

“And in an ever-changing environment with tightening state border restrictions and an anticipated downtown in the property market, we are diversifying our strategy and pursuing other opportunities,” Morrell said.

With the forced closure of a lot of showrooms and bricks-and-mortar stores, businesses have undergone a real shift in the way they operate. Many businesses are moving online but still require transport and delivery of their goods to customers, or between stores.

An image of UQ graduate James Morrell (left) with Muval partner Mahdi Chardi.

UQ graduate James Morrell (left) with Muval partner Mahdi Chardi.

UQ graduate James Morrell (left) with Muval partner Mahdi Chardi.

“While couriers are great for small items, and general freight carriers are great for palletised goods, it’s often very difficult to find operators that can transport bulky or ‘ugly’ freight,” Morrell said.

“‘Ugly’ freight is anything larger than 100 litres and requires two people to lift into a truck, and so we have just launched a new service catering specifically for this need.

“We are quite lucky as our business hasn’t been forced to do a hard ‘stop and pivot’ strategy, and we are just expanding our offering to help with requests we are receiving from customers,” Morrell said.

Muval’s platform is now being used as a one-stop-shop for booking freight, bulky goods and courier-style moving services.

“We have been really well received in the industry as partner to these logistics companies and it’s been great to adapt our technology to assist their evolving needs.”

Contact Muval for up-to-date information on moving house during the COVID-19 crisis.

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