Ever since Uber launched to enable users to hail a ride with a mobile app, any number of on-demand and same-day delivery services have emerged. In most cases, those companies end up building out their own logistics infrastructure and hiring their own delivery drivers.
But why keep reinventing the wheel if the delivery and routing part of the service isn’t a part of your core competency? That’s the thinking behind Y Combinator-backed Rickshaw, which hopes to enable companies to outsource the logistics layer of the local delivery process in a way that will make same day pickups and drop-offs more efficient for all.
Rickshaw was founded by Divya Bhat and Gautam Jayaraman, two MIT grads who have backgrounds in operations research and computer science. They began building Rickshaw, Bhat says, after she considered working on a startup that would require a fleet for deliveries.
Rather than building such a fleet just for their own usage, or reaching out to others to rent capacity on their delivery fleets, the Rickshaw founders thought it made more sense for to work on solving the delivery problem for a bunch of different companies. Launched in private beta last summer, Rickshaw has spent the past several months working with a hand-picked group of partners to help them solve their same-day delivery needs.
Rickshaw doesn’t do the type of on-demand deliveries you might expect from a company like Postmates or DoorDash, but it handles same-day and next-day pickups and dropoffs for partners. The goal was to create economies of scale by batching deliveries in a way that would group them together based on location.
Partners provide delivery details either via spreadshseet, API, or web forms ahead of time, enabling Rickshaw to and route intelligently and heavily increase the number of deliveries that can be made per hour. It narrows delivery windows down to two hours, enabling partners to offer the convenience of a relatively limited window while also providing flexibility in routes for its drivers.
Because Rickshaw knows how much volume it can expect on any given day, it provides steady work and guaranteed income for drivers. Its delivery app also works out the best way to navigate deliveries for them. That’s in contrast to a lot of other delivery or on-demand driving gigs out there, where the volume of work and amount they get paid can vary heavily depending on user demand.
Until now, Rickshaw has been mostly handpicking partners to work with, but it hopes to open up the floodgates and get other partners on board. “We want to let them preserve their brand, and let customers go to their brand. We let the businesses do their marketing and control the customer experience,” Bhat told me.
As more and more businesses want to enable local deliveries without doing it themselves, Rickshaw could provide one new way for them to reach their customers.