An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Don’t be afraid to dream big.

My non-linear career path gave me the strength and courage to look beyond how we do things today, and question how things can be done differently. This translates to my role at Darwynn, where we’re reimagining what the e-commerce and delivery landscape currently looks like, and being unafraid to provide an alternative solution to compete with existing big players in the industry.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Reza Bafandeh.

Reza Bafandeh is CEO of Darwynn Ltd., a fulfillment solution that is building a world-class ecosystem that enables anyone and everyone to compete in commerce. With extensive experience across the fulfillment and operations sectors, Reza’s goal is to ensure every company has access to an innovative solution — no matter if they have one order or one million orders. He hopes to democratize the industry and break down barriers to allow businesses of all sizes to thrive.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

It’s often assumed that the pathway to becoming a CEO is to get straight A’s, pursue higher education and excel in academics. But we know this isn’t always the case. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg all dropped out of school — and like these folks, I also led a different path.

As a child, I played chess competitively — participating in tournaments and learning the ins and outs of the game. It taught me a lot about strategy, patience and perseverance.

Fast forward to my teenage years, I ended up dropping out of high school. That led me to begin working on the front lines of sales and business development for a number of years before I decided it was time to go back to school and pursue higher education. From there, I earned both an accelerated Bachelors degree and a Masters degree — graduating from both with honours. I truly believe that the same qualities I learned through chess, is what helped me accomplish this academic achievement.

Once I completed my studies, I went back to building my career. This time bringing both academic and previous professional experience, I worked across the fulfillment and operations industries — spanning waste management, distribution, global deployments and last mile transportation. I also spent some time building multiple businesses of my own in areas such as consulting, health, and beauty.

Much like the way chess taught me strategy, patience and perseverance, my non-linear career path gave me the perspective to look beyond the status quo. While my experience may be diverse, one thing has remained consistent in my professional career — I’ve always been involved at the intersection of merchants and consumers, and fulfillment and operations is my bread and butter. I noticed gaps in the current infrastructure, and seeing the opportunity to innovate this complex industry is what led me to Darwynn.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

At Darwynn, we’re democratizing the fulfillment landscape by lowering the barriers to commerce so any seller can compete — no matter how big or small. We’re seeing increased consumer demands for expectations like two-day shipping, but traditional supply chain logistics haven’t risen to the challenge. We want to be the alternative option for sellers to have more control over their orders, have transparency to their data and get insight into the fulfillment process.

Our complete multi-tenant, multi-channel and multi-temperature fulfillment ecosystem is fully automated and manages most avenues of a business. By integrating with all major platforms, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, we’re making fulfillment and logistics as simple as possible. Because we’re enabling fulfillment with technology, merchants and sellers are able to gain access to unmatched data and insights to drive their business forward.

We’re rethinking the way sellers manage logistics, and putting operational ownership into the hands of businesses with more transparency and control over their fulfillment needs. The goal is to become the most innovative, seller-centric platform of choice — whether they have one order or a million to fulfill.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Dropping out of high school wasn’t a mistake per se, but a key learning experience for me. Looking back, it’s funny to see that I ended up going back to school, not only for a Bachelor’s degree, but for a Master’s as well. What others may find even more fascinating is that I actually spent some time giving back to education by becoming an instructor myself at my alma mater. It was in no way easy for me to go back to school, but studying business after having had some formal job experience gave me the drive, determination and confidence I needed to embrace academics, and apply those learnings to my career going forward.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My father has been my main mentor throughout my life. Ever since I was a child, I’ve looked up to him — not only is he a loving father and a husband, but a great businessman, educator and role model. As a scholar with a PhD in Medical Nuclear Physics from the University of Massachusetts, his dedication to continuous learning and development has inspired my ambitions to get to where I am today.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruptors arise because we see a gap in the current market, or a problem with existing systems. I noticed a gap in the current infrastructure through my time working across fulfillment and operations, which led me to Darwynn.

Darwynn’s ecosystem will allow companies of varying order volumes to benefit from economies of scale because of our proprietary Automated Multi-Tenant Ecosystem. This allows for order consolidation within the fulfillment center, regardless of the merchant. By doing so, we’re putting sellers at the forefront while exceeding customer expectations. Furthermore, we’re creating a positive sustainability impact by decreasing the amount of packaging by combining orders and allowing greater efficiency for the courier. For example, when someone orders groceries and clothing from separate merchants, our platform can integrate these from the same consumer into one package, instead of one per merchant. This, to me, is positive disruption — one that benefits sellers by reducing packaging costs, the environment by reducing waste, and the end consumer.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Here are some words of advice that have gotten me through my journey:

  • Don’t be afraid to dream big.

My non-linear career path gave me the strength and courage to look beyond how we do things today, and question how things can be done differently. This translates to my role at Darwynn, where we’re reimagining what the e-commerce and delivery landscape currently looks like, and being unafraid to provide an alternative solution to compete with existing big players in the industry.

  • There is no shortage of great ideas, what is missing is executing them
    This piece of advice resonates with me because I’m a big advocate for continuous learning. Not being afraid to pursue great ideas is critical to disrupting an industry and without execution, there will be limited opportunities to learn from failure or success.
  • Make yourself the obvious choice.

There are many ways technology can be adapted to help solve existing problems in the fulfillment and operations industry, but what sets Darwynn apart is the combination of our industry expertise and our technological capabilities. This has helped us build our state-of-the-art fulfillment centers and truly scale our business this past year. Our approach to developing a fully-automated solution is what differentiates us to become the obvious choice.

  • Business is a combination of war and sport.

As Darwynn grows, this piece of advice has stuck with me because it alludes to the importance of being able to challenge the status quo to be competitive, while balancing the role of a strategic and aspirational leader as CEO.

  • In the midst of chaos there is always opportunity.

Whether it was stores lacking inventory on their shelves or back-ordered items online, many saw the impact of global supply chains first-hand this year — no matter where they are in the world. This piece of advice resonates with me because my team has been able to seize this opportunity to build Darwynn — and I believe our recent pre-seed raise is a testament that there is a clear demand for innovation to improve the fulfillment and operations industry now more than ever.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We’re shaking up commerce with our cutting edge technology and expertise in fulfillment, but we’re not stopping there. Our goal is to improve commerce in all aspects by disrupting supply chain and logistics as a whole — reimagining the way consumers receive goods from merchants and sellers whether online or brick and mortar.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I’m a big fan of audiobooks, and listen to 1–2 monthly. Most recently, I’ve been listening to Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. Books like these that challenge my thinking inspire me to continuously learn and grow, especially as a leader. When it comes to disrupting and innovating an industry, it’s important to me to be able to reflect and think differently about how commerce operates today and what the future of commerce could look like.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One quote that resonates with me is — “luck is for the unprepared”. As someone who didn’t follow the traditional trajectory from school to work, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am today. My experiences and education combined have prepared me to seize opportunities to succeed, whether luck is involved or not.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Commerce (especially eCommerce) is heavily dependent on plastics and corrugated packaging. That’s why I think it’s important to reimagine the relationships between a seller, integrator, service provider and customer, and how the commerce journey can function without relying on so much waste. Eliminating packaging, not just minimizing it, is something I’m very passionate about, and the opportunities to innovate this industry by rethinking commerce is limitless.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn (Reza Bafandeh)

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Meet The Disruptors: Reza Bafandeh Of Darwynn On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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