“There’s somebody leaving everywhere going everywhere all the time,” says avid entrepreneur Marc Gorlin. “There’s this massive heat map that’s hidden under our feet that Roadie is going to reveal.”
Roadie is a company that just closed on $10 million in Series A financing, which included funds from UPS’s Strategic Enterprise Fund, the shipping company’s investment arm. The company is looking to cause an upheaval of the $90 billion U.S. shipping industry via the Roadie App. The plan is to utilize drivers going in a particular direction to pick up packages and deliver them along their pre-existing path or route for a small fee. To make this even cooler, Roadie has partnered with Waffle House restaurants. They plan on starting this in 1,750 locations across 25 states and will be the first of several official “Roadie Roadhouses,” or meet-up spots, where drivers and senders can connect to unload a shipment.
Marc Gorlin who had co-founded Kabbage, a technology company says it’s more than a delivery service, but a community of helpers. The idea was pitched to Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer at a nighttime, glow-in-the-dark golf tournament, which he responded rather well to. Pat Warner, Waffle House’s VP of Culture, says the deal with Roadie made sense because “it’s a natural extension of what our restaurants are right now,” he explains. “We’re kind of a meeting place, a gathering place for people in the community now. We’re along the interstate, so a lot of people use us as landmarks and meeting places already.”
Waffle House has never partnered with a company like this before, and certainly not an early-stage startup like Roadie, but it’s something they wanted to try. Maybe the Roadies and Senders will sit down and eat and chat together during the swap. At present there are roughly 115,000 people who have already applied to be Roadie drivers. “There are literally over 70,000 people with a Roadie t‑shirt in their laundry bag, for an app that’s just launching,” says Gorlin. The company also has 250 people who have beta-tested the service.
Roadie drivers aren’t professional shippers, but people who want to make a little extra money by carrying something someone else needs shipped. A job could be as short as 7 miles or up to 300. They are starting out to a limited eight state range in the southwest but will expand as more demand accrues. With the app, you just take pictures and give details and a Roadie will respond giving location, availability and so on. Fees change based on length of trip, speed of required delivery. Fees are based on different factors, like the length of the trip and the time when the package needs to get delivered. Typically prices will range from $8 to $150, according to the company. The fees for deliveries on Roadie are often more affordable than traditional shippers.
TomorrowVentures, and the Mellon Group became very interested right away, as well as boutique investment bank Stephens Inc., with additional participation from the Guggenheim Partners executive chairman Alan Schwartz, and Square co-founder, Jim McKelvey. They are smelling the money, and why not. I even think it sounds like a fun and novel idea of doing things.
If you’ve got a package that needs to go somewhere, you know what app to download –ROADIE!