April, 2015

  1. Accio: Anything you want, with the lift of a thumb

    April 1, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield



    Accio means “to summon” in Latin, but you may have heard the name before in the famous Harry Potter series. It was the “Summoning Charm” that caused an object to fly from a distance into the caster’s arms. This spell is one of the oldest known to the fictional wizarding society, and it’s the idea behind Mike Rowe and Carla Smart’s new, local business, Accio.


    Accio is a way to get anything you want, from anywhere you want, delivered to anyone in Victoria, without leaving your house. It’s as simple as texting “ACCIO” to 250-800-2680 to get started. When you’ve announced the “Summoning Charm” you will receive a link to a signup page. Once the formalities are completed, the user texts Accio their email address and POOF! Everything is synced.

    From here, the user can send a text asking for just about anything, as long as it’s legal. Accio scours the city with lightning-speed, sends a quote (which includes tax, delivery charge and tip for the driver), and then the user confirms the charge on the credit card linked to their account. And like magic, the product arrives on their door step. The user can choose immediate delivery, or to receive it at a later date.

    “There are a lot of reasons why someone would use Accio over walking or driving to the store, explained Rowe. “The most obvious one is just laziness, but it could also be because of mobility issues, can’t leave the kids at home, in the middle of some work, or perhaps they’ve just had a few too many drinks.”

    With the recent success of Magic in the United States, now was the perfect time for the duo to launch Accio (which, unlike Magic, does not outsource). Plus, they’re well ahead of schedule for the very busy holiday shopping season, when many people would rather avoid driving.

    Screen shot 2015-03-30 at 10.40.49 AM


    Accio uses a secure service called Stripe to store the credit card information and print receipts so nothing is ever going through Accio’s server; an added piece of mind for Accio’s customers. This also adds to the VERY low business cost of Accio… a meer $250 total to get this all started!

    In addition to Stripe, Mike and Carla had to make use of a few other existing services that are readily available to everyone in order to keep costs down. For the text messaging service they use Twilio, which provides phone numbers for developers. To share the Twilio number as a team (with unlimited operators), they implemented Front to send and receive messages from customers. Rowe and Smart also purchased the theme for their website through ThemeForest for just $20, an SSL certificate for $10, and an IP address to host the SSL certificate for $24. They use Quickbooks for bookkeeping and accounting purposes and Zapier to integrate all of these services with each other.

    For example, when a customer signs up through Stripe, Accio gets a message in Slack about it. When Accio charges a customer in Stripe, Zapier will automatically send this information to Quickbooks so they don’t have to.


    After graduating from Camosun with a Diploma in Business Marketing and then trying his hand at a career in professional poker for five years, Rowe switched paths to the startup world, which can also be a gamble at times.

    Rowe and Smart, have spent the past five years creating various tech-based businesses. The most recent was ForkJoy, a web and mobile app for rating and reviewing dishes from restaurants in Victoria, Vancouver, and San Francisco. There was potential to grow it further, but they ran out of money.

    “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to build businesses that have ultimately failed,” explained Rowe. “With Accio, I have only spent a few hundred dollars and about 50 hours of my time between inception and launch. If I can start gaining traction with this idea I will be able to build software around it to help scale. Not just in Victoria, but across Canada and maybe even further. If it doesn’t work out it’s not a big deal to shut it down. The worst case scenario is that I end up learning a lot about an industry I didn’t know before.”


    Rowe and Smart will be hiring their CTO in the coming months and more delivery drivers as business picks up. With Smart receiving her Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management from Royal Roads University this year, there are bound to be new ideas and strategies implemented as well. The biggest goal for the future of Accio, however, is providing more services.

    “We want to be the place where everyone goes to not only get something, but also get something done,” commented Rowe, “For example, lets say your house is a mess. You can text us and we’ll send a cleaner to you. Car break down? We will send a mechanic. Dirty laundry? We will pick up your clothes, get them cleaned and folded, then drop them off to you. Every service provider we use will be hand picked by us to ensure that our customers are getting the best service possible.”

    If everything goes as planned, Accio might just turn into your very own personal assistant!