It always happens to me that, I want a certain pair of dress I know would be available overseas. So, I get it done by tapping into my network, finding out who’s going there and tipping them to get it for me. We all have done it. What if we had a network of travelers who are ready to buy stuff from anywhere they travel and safely deliver to you?
Francis and Leo have been very good friends and have known each other since high school. They started Muber back on April as an idea from their experience traveling together in the past. While Leo was a research intern at Harvard, Francis was at his senior year at MIT. Both of them love traveling and they traveled over 15 countries in the past two years and ever so often their friends and family would ask us to buy certain gadgets, books or cosmetic products as they returned. Leo recollects, his father would ask him to buy exclusive CD albums in the US while his friends would even ask to buy them BB creams from South Korea.
So on April 10 2013, they started Muber as a small passion project to cater the numerous requests they both had and also to connect and build a verified and trusted community where buyers of unique or hard-to-find items can easily connect to travelers to buy and deliver it for them.
About the founding team
Francis is a web developer ninja. He’s a software engineer from MIT and now working at Oracle. He is highly skilled in programming and serves as our hacker. Leo is an Erasmus-Mundus scholarship awardee and a previous Harvard researcher fellow at Shakhnovich Biophysics lab. He’s a web developer himself but mostly handle the UI/UX designs and business aspects of Muber. Life is a Computer Science major mostly handles communication with our customers giving each of them a personal touch
Journey so far
The founders followed the Lean Start-up Model. Along their development, they attended 2 Start-up Weekends and Start-up Weekend Next to learn the principles of the Lean Start-up Model. They did create an MVP two weeks before launching for the alpha users. So far they had around 88 signups and then by the time they launched, their users rose to 200.
Team Muber just had private beta launch 10 days ago, and they currently have around 280 users, over 60 listed trips and 15 requested items. At the same time, there are currently 5 ongoing transactions where requesters have already paid travelers to do so.
Before launching Muber, the team did several customer discovery segments where they talked with travelers at airports, tourists and students. They learned that 8 out of 10 people have already experienced bringing stuff for others while they traveled. And 4 out of the 8 had asked a tip in exchange for the delivery. This gave them the idea that these kinds of transactions happen all the time informally with friends, family members and relatives.
More about the platform
Muber basically connects buyers of unique and hard-to-find items to travelers who can buy and deliver it for you. Users post a request of their item with its reward and wait for traveler to accept the task.
If someone is traveling soon, they share your travel on the site or search directly for request they think they can buy and deliver to the person. Once you find a match, you talk with the traveler/requester about the availability, price, tip and final delivery whether it’s a meetup or sent through local couriers. Muber acts as an escrow – receives payments from the requester as assurance for the traveler and later reimburses the money with its tip to the traveler as soon as he confirms his delivery of the item to the requester
The experience so far
Francis and Leo are first time entrepreneurs and did not a know a lot of aspects in the entrepreneurial world (e.g. getting PR, drafting killer Pitches, meeting with investors etc) “It’s a difficult but an exciting path – lots of challenges and unexpected changes along the way” Leo said. Further citing examples of their first idea- which was for travelers to bring items for other people but that did not work out well with the problem that people might end up bringing drugs instead. So they changed the whole idea and made Travelers buy the requested items. In that way, they know 100% what they’re carrying and feel confident when traveling overseas.
The most overrated thing about being an entrepreneur..
Perhaps the most overrated thing about being an entrepreneur is the whole idea that you pursue the start-up scene just because you want to become your own boss, says Leo. Although he does agree that creativity becomes limited when one work in a corporation as compared to as joining a start-up, however the truth is – most of the time you end up becoming the face and end of all the tasks. All the problems in your company comes down to you fixing it. Your teammates fought with each other; you try to resolve their issues. Your sales team cant put themselves together, you try to motivate and create a strategy for them. Technical issues arise in your program, you contact your developers All these things become the pain of your everyday life and making sure all these are set right. We’d say this is definitely some food for thought for the wannabe entrepreneurs.
First of all, they are focused in attracting more Users especially travelers to join the community. They are also actively looking for investments that they plan to use to hire a mobile developer to help develop the mobile app that would complement the current web application.
If they get enough, they also plan to look forward to hire a Sales and Marketing guy to boost the social presence and again attract more users. Growth, growth and growth – that’s the plan.
Muber is a very innovative platform for all the people who are enthusiastic about several things, but sadly cannot travel enough to get the same. We think Muber needs a better marketing strategy to reach out to their masses and it would be ready to take off the flight of super success! We wish Team Muber a very good luck!Buffer