When needing something delivered, most of us turn to the traditional outlets: UPS, FedEx, and many others. While all of today’s traditional carriers have massive distribution channels that span the globe, they’re unable to tap into a network that America has more of than anywhere else on the planet: passenger vehicles. In the Atlanta Metropolitan area alone, there are approximately 4 million registered vehicles and at any time of day, the majority of those cars are heading in every direction imaginable. If you need something delivered in a hurry, wouldn’t it be great to know someone already heading your way who could throw it in their trunk? Atlanta-based startup, Roadie, has created “the first neighbor-to-neighbor shipping network.” I recently sat down with the company’s Founder and CEO, Marc Gorlin, to learn more about his exciting new company.
Launched in January 2015, “Roadie allows you to help other people out by giving their stuff a lift on places that you’re going anyway,” explains Gorlin. “We utilize the excess passenger vehicle capacity on cars who are already traveling somewhere. Roadie solves the problem of things that need to get somewhere urgently in the same day, whether it’s in town or out of town. There’s also a green component to it because another car or truck isn’t having to get on the road to take that package. You’re not having to burn all the boxes, tape, and peanuts, which by the way, usually cost 3x more than having to ship the package itself. And actually, the founding of the idea, came from a personal problem where I could’ve used Roadie.”
The idea for Roadie came in February 2014 when Gorlin was on his way to his Florida condo to do renovations. “It was Thursday, I was having lunch in Montgomery, Alabama, and got a call from Glenn, the tile guy. He said, ‘Hey Marc, this is Glenn. That bulldozed tile showed up broken as Hell and ain’t gonna be here until Monday.’ I said, ‘what can we do about this? Where is the tile?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. I think it’s in Birmingham.’ I was on the overpass on I-65, looked left, and saw all these cars going North. I looked right and saw all these cars going South,” he recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘there’s bound to be somebody leaving Birmingham right now, heading to Montgomery. If I just knew who they were, surely they’d throw a box of tiles in their trunk. I’d give them 20 bucks; Hell, they’re coming this way anyway. In fact, there’s probably somebody leaving Birmingham, going all the way down to Pensacola and I could already be on the beach by the time they got there.’ And then, it just hit me.”
As a serial entrepreneur, Marc’s frustrating experience with a contractor in Alabama prompted him to rethink the entire delivery industry and how he could tap into an existing infrastructure. “When you hit any delivery apps, from traditional carriers to on-demand carriers, what happens? Someone comes somewhere they weren’t already going and then takes you or your stuff to some place else they also weren’t already going,” he says. “Versus Roadie, which is purely peer-to-peer. Someone in your general vicinity is heading in the same direction that your stuff happens needs a lift.”
“If you’re a Roadie, not only are you helping people out by taking their stuff, you’re also getting all the other benefits from the Roadie community: you’re getting paid for going where you’re going anyway, you’re making an environmental impact, and you’re going to get discounts at ‘Roadhouses,’ where you can meet up with people,” continues Gorlin. “Waffle House is the first one we’ve announced. When you become a Roadie, you’ll get a free waffle and if you stop there on a gig, you’ll get a free beverage. Over time, this community’s going to take care of itself. If you’re stuck on I-85 and there’s 7 Roadies nearby, they’re going to help you change that tire. And finally, at the end of the year, we’ll send you all the Roadie miles you drove that year and you can write them off on trips you were already going to take anyway. It’s different than just a delivery service.”
Roadie Founder & CEO, Marc Gorlin, at Waffle House
As a rare breed that is a native Atlantan, Marc is a big fan of the city he calls home. “It’s a little harder in the consumer space to get what you need, but Atlanta’s a great place to build great companies,” he says. “As far as the idea of Roadie, in effect, it’s an authentically Southern idea. The story is rooted in Southern Hospitality, so, there’s a lot to be said for starting out in these types of communities. Everyone imaginable tries start out in San Francisco. It’s a very crowded market. Roadie is something that needs some space to breathe because it requires velocity and the heat map of people going from here to there. Atlanta’s got a lot of people going from here to there.”
The future is bright for Roadie. In January of this year, they received $10M in Series A funding. Going forward, they are growing their network and continuing to build out the serviceability in multiple geographic areas. “If you put together everybody that goes everywhere all the time, it’s probably a more powerful heat map than UPS, FedEx, and USPS combined,” states Gorlin. “It’s not anything you have to build; that infrastructure is already there. You just have to let people plug into it and that’s what Roadie is doing.”
Use promo code SENDNOW for $10 off your first shipment. Also, if you sign up to be one of their ‘Roadie’ drivers, this $10 will payout in your bank account (meaning if you make $15 on a delivery, $25 will be debited into your account as a thank you for joining effort).