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Ex-AFL player's app makes strong ASX debut

AAP logoAAP 9/12/2016 Ethan James

What started as a former AFL player's quest to get beer to an Adelaide party has led to an ASX-listed company.

Former Melbourne and Brisbane utility Joel MacDonald's startup logistics service GetSwift kicked off its ASX life on Friday, gaining 50 per cent.

GetSwift has developed a mobile application that allows transport companies to track and better organise their delivery fleets and uses algorithms to determine efficient routes.

The idea for the app was born out of Mr MacDonald's first foray into the startup world with Liquorun - an alcohol delivery service - and is now used in more than 300 cities around the world by major food and general retailers such as hardware store Mitre10.

The idea for Liquorun came on a flight with Melbourne club mates James Strauss and Rowan Bail.

"Three years ago we were sitting in the back of a plane coming back from Adelaide trying to organise a party but there were going to be no alcohol stores open or chance of delivery," Mr MacDonald, who retired in 2013, told AAP.

"That's when we started modelling what became Liquorun."

The Liquorun service grew rapidly and required new software and management systems that also delivered huge efficiency gains.

That logistics system and software became the starting point for GetSwift during a "lightbulb" trip to Silicon Valley and New York.

GetSwift was backed by funding from startup incubator BlueChilli but the two parted ways amid a public falling out early this year.

Mr MacDonald, in comments reported by Fairfax Media, questioned BlueChilli CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin's dedication to the company, saying he was unable to devote as much time as desired.

Mr Eckersley-Maslin stepped down as a director of GetSwift earlier this year, also telling Fairfax Media there was a difference with GetSwift over vision, values and ethics.

Not wanting to elaborate on the separation, Mr McDonald told AAP the pair "grew apart".

GetSwift raised $5 million in its IPO and on Friday its shares closed at 30 cents, up 10 cents on their issue price.

The company, which began business in 2015, will use the funds to expand in the United States, Asia, Europe and the Middle East and is expecting to add several "brand names" to its clientele in the coming months.

Mr MacDonald says GetSwift's success is proof startups can prosper commercially in Australia, also crediting his 124-game AFL career with developing a sense of resilience required to deal with setbacks.

"In football you're in and out of the side every Friday afternoon. It's very similar to entrepreneurship, you're getting your arse kicked ... having huge highs and huge lows," he said.

GetSwift plans to add 12 more staff to its Melbourne office over the next year.

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