The birth of Tarot Routing: Roses and Maths and Valentines (oh my!)

“So how did you come up with the idea?”

The advice we often hear thrown around is that startups need a really good story about how they got started.

“It should solve a problem that you have experienced yourself”
“Tell a narrative.”
“Make it personal.”
 — Everyone, all the time

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re supposed to invent a Hollywood blockbuster just to market your business.

Start with a bit of drama, throw in some romance, and perhaps end with a triumphant victory or something.

So that’s what we did!

Okay, okay, so that’s not exactly true.

Okayyyyy, it’s not even remotely true.

But that’s because we‘re lucky enough to have one of the coolest startup stories around…

Roses are red

13 February 2014:
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I’m very single.

So I start wondering: Am I destined to a life without love?

Luckily that thought lasts only a few seconds. Then I have an idea:

Couriers must need a lot of extra drivers to deliver flowers on Valentine’s Day.

So I search for a courier job, and instantly get hired. I have a car and a licence, so I guess I tick all the boxes??


Violets are blue

6:00am Valentine’s Day
No breakfast in bed. No love letters. No chocolates under the pillow.

I’ve been awake for 1.5 hours already, and I’m given a list of 49 roses to deliver. In alphabetical order. By last name. This is going to take forever.

The back of my car half way through the day.

(Yes, I secretly hoped to find my name in the list. No, it wasn’t there. Are you done asking questions?)

Luckily (since I love maths), I’ve heard about something called the Travelling Salesman Problem

Travelling Salesman Problem (n)
A mathematical problem where you figure out the fastest sequence to visit several destinations.

… and I figure there must be an app for that!

There is! I download it because I want to finish my deliveries faster

… but then have to spend the next 30 minutes typing in all the addresses into my phone. It’s a long, painful process.

Mathematics is awesome

Eventually I click optimise. About a minute later I had my list of jobs, but they’re no longer in alphabetical order.

Everything is in order, sir!
They’re in the order that means I spend the least time driving

That’s right.

I’m going to finish my work earlier just because I’m delivering roses in the right sequence.

Did I mention I love maths?

The rest of the day was spent delivering roses to all the lucky ladies whose partners cared to show their affection by buying a bright red piece of non-native flora. It was a lot of fun!

You’ve heard of don’t shoot the messenger
This was more like don’t kiss the messenger.
I highly recommend it.
But that’s beside the point.

Nearly done!

When I spent those 30 minutes typing in all the addresses, I was worried I was going to waste more time than I would save.

Wrong.

I finished my deliveries hours before all the other couriers

…even the professionals.


…and saves money too!

This was a good thing for two reasons.

  • Firstly because I got home at 2pm, so I could spend the rest of the day wallowing in my sorrows.
  • Secondly because I was getting paid for every delivery I completed.

This is when it dawned on me.

Delivery businesses can save hours of wages and petrol costs on every driver, every single day.

And that’s when Simon and I first had the idea to create Tarot Routing!

Tarot Routing: Simpler Route Optimisation

Want to know how we went from idea to startup? That’s the subject of a future post ;)