DeliverWithMe brings the concept of crowd-sourcing to Indian shores and that too not for the traditional fund raising or getting errands done but as a way to deliver packages for e-commerce companies while travelling and in turn earning a few reward points in return that they can splurge on. We have a chat with Anand Satyan, the founder of DeliverWithMe about his venture and why he thinks this model will take off in India.
The concept of a crowd-sourced delivery is still in its infancy with very few players. Even the US retail giant Walmart is testing the waters with this model at select stores in US. While this model may have some takers in US, the concept of crowd-sourcing be it for funding(Kickstarter) or getting chores done(TaskRabbit) as such is yet gain traction in India. In such a scenario what was the reason for launching DeliverWithMe in India? Did you do any market research about the response would be?
While the rise of crowd-sourcing in India is not widely written about, the reality is that India is embracing crowd-sourcing like no other region, with many of the world’s leading crowd sourcing sites powered by users from India. More than half of the top 25 earners on Elance.com are from India. With a rise in the number of freelancers and internet and mobile enabled people in India, Crowd-sourcing is expected to quadruple in the next five years.
Walmart is experimenting with crowd-sourcing deliveries at an ultra-local level. When such giants look to crowd-source deliveries, it’s a big positive sign for the ecosystem in general. People in India are always on the lookout for someone travelling to their cities to get them something from another city. This concept has existed right from the beginning of time.
We ran a private beta in December and we realized that there are two main problems with respect to crowd-sourcing deliveries:
1. Last Mile: People don’t want to go out of their way to deliver something at the doorstep of the person who ordered.
2. Security: They want to know for sure that what they are carrying is legal and safe.
How does the DeliverWithMe model work?
Traveler r posts his trip on portal easily or forwards trip confirmation email from Makemytrip, Cleartrip etc to email@example.com
2. E-commerce retailer packages his goods and hands over to DeliverWithMe. DeliverWithMe finds travelers and hands over the package to traveler at airport.
3. Traveler Checks in Baggage and Lands in Destination.
4. Package handed over to DeliverWithMestaff at the drop off point at the destination airport.
5. Deliverwithme does last mile delivery to e-commerce shopper.
Since we are at an early stage we have tied up with a few partners to provide free meals in train for rail travel and discounted/free airport pickup/drop-off for air travelers We are working on a system where DeliverWithMe miles can be converted into various shopping hampers/points or redeemed at popular food joints at outlets all over the city. We want travelers to repeatedly use our service to accumulate DeliverWithMe miles and redeem big rewards. The value of offers/rewards/vouchers we can afford to give to our customers is much more than the value of cash offer.
Surely there must be a lot of questions about privacy and security when it comes to trusting an unknown person to deliver a package and also making sure the package does not contain any illegal products. How do you handle this?
Security is top priority. We take extra care to make sure travelers have a glitch free experience. We have a few guidelines we follow to make the process smooth and hassle free:
1. Traveler is aware of what he is carrying.
2. Trusted E-Commerce Packages from trusted sources( as good as new and control over product categories)
3. Verified Traveler Profiles – We get PNR and Phone number details and use social graph.
4. Package Theft/Loss Guarantee for e-commerce merchants
5. Package screened before handover to traveler.
6. 24/7 Fanatic Support
(Refer to Security guidelines for more info)
How long have you been in operation and how has the response been?
We started work on DeliverWithMe in November 2012. It took us almost 5 months to get the model right and set the technology in place. We have been in operation for a little less than a month now. Response has been really overwhelming. It has been the complete opposite of what we expected. We have a surplus of travelers posting trips on the site and very few e-commerce packages to deliver. We will soon be signing up with more e-commerce companies after perfecting the system.
Are you funded by any investors or are you bootstrapping this venture?
We were one of the 18 LaunchPad Winners at the Startup Festival which was held in Bangalore in March. Our experience at this festival was so overwhelming that we decided to launch in Bangalore and so moved from Mumbai to Bangalore. We were approached by a lot of investors and mentors who have helped us refine our model to make it what it is now. We wish to bootstrap till we can completely validate the model and get the mechanism in place. Once we have a clean and smooth process, we will immediately raise funds to scale up.
Currently what are the cities in which you are operating?
Currently we are operating in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Our next target cities are Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata. We are also experimenting with a route in Russia (Moscow).
What are the future plans?
We are currently looking to completely validate the model and perfect the mechanism. Once we have a well-oiled machine, we hope to grow to more cities and towns. We are also experimenting with other modes of transport apart from train and flight to reach out to remote areas and to crowd-source even last mile delivery.
About the team
Anand Satyan – Product Guy, Been in the startup community for 2 years. Worked at Tata Consultancy Services for a few months before taking the plunge into entrepreneurship.
Rashid Dyussembayev – Extensive experience in journalism, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine in Kazakhstan. Knows how to work with information. Founder of top Kazakh national newspaper.
Bakhytgul Zhurkabayeva – Experience in Public Relations and Marketing. She has travelled extensively all over the world making her very good with information. She is an avid practitioner of Indian Spirituality and is aware of the different cultures in India.
Dauren Alipbayev – Financial Mastermind, Worked as one of the top managers at Centras Capital, a private equity firm. Also worked as one of the heads at GE Transportation.