While Uber, Lyft, and similar ride-sharing services can help you get from one place to the next, they aren’t practical for hauling your large purchases – like those from an IKEA shopping spree, or a sofa you found on Craigslist, for example. That’s where a service called Lugg comes in. If Lyft is like your friend with a car, then Lugg is like your friend with a truck.
The startup, a recent grad from Y Combinator’s Summer 2015 class, has now raised $3.8 million in seed funding from a number of investors, which will allow it to grow its team and expand to new cities.
Ronny Conway’s A Capital led the round, which also saw participation from SV Angel, CrunchFund (disclosure: a fund founded by TechCrunch’s original founder, Michael Arrington), a number of angel investors, including Gmail creator and FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit, and Soma Capital.
First launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in early 2015, the idea for Lugg came from Jordan Brown, who previously worked at a healthcare startup, but found himself facing the problem Lugg aims to solve first-hand. Many of us, both with and without cars, can also relate. We often have to make special, and sometimes expensive, delivery arrangements for our bigger purchases that don’t fit in standard-sized vehicles, or we have to hunt down someone who has a truck and convince them to help us.
Other times, we simply miss out on deals – such as in the case of larger, secondhand items like those you find at garage sales or in classified ads, for example.
Lugg offers an alternative by connecting you with local movers who will meet you at a pick-up site in around 20 minutes with their own vehicle equipped to handle your item. To use Lugg, consumers simply snap a photo of the item with the Lugg mobile app, enter their location and the destination. Similar to Uber, payment is handled in the app itself.
Currently, Lugg charges $30 as its base fare, plus $0.75 for per minute while unloading and loading, as well as $2 per mile. On average, moves cost around $40 to $65 in the San Francisco Bay Area, with slightly longer moves, like San Francisco to Oakland, inching closer to $80. Lugg’s drivers keep 80 percent of the fare, and the rest goes to the company.
Also similar to other ride-sharing companies, anyone with access to a truck can sign up for Lugg, but they will need to be able to move heavy items. And they don’t work alone – Lugg assigns two people per truck. That means that contractors can sign up to be “helpers” with Lugg, allowing them the option to work their own hours, even if they don’t have a vehicle of their own. (The drivers pick up their helper at the start of a shift.)
Lugg’s movers are given background screenings and have to complete a series of trial runs before they’re allowed to officially join with Lugg. According to Brown, many of the workers are college students, athletes, former moving company employees, day laborers, and even ex-military.
Though, to some extent, Lugg competes with smaller moving companies, it wasn’t really designed for moving an entire home’s furnishings across town. Instead, the service is just meant to help out at those times you need a big truck to move something a short distance. However, notes Brown, that hasn’t stopped some from using Lugg when moving apartments.
“[Customers] just started doing it…it’s really interesting,” he says. “They could get a quote of $300 with a two hour minimum from a moving company, or just request a few Luggs, and they’re good to go,” Brown explains. “I think a lot it is that moving companies are still so ancient – calling them and getting quotes versus just pushing a button,” he adds.
To date, Lugg has handled thousands of moves (nearing the six digits) around the San Francisco area. By year-end, it plans to reach the wider Bay Area, including the peninsula, South Bay and East Bay. In 2016, the plan is to use the funding to expand to new cities, possibly New York or L.A., though that may change.
Consumers are discovering Lugg can be used for a variety of moves, but the startup is getting help from area retailers, too. The company has partnered with 17 stores who now refer business to Lugg, including Costco, IKEA, Home Depot, Pottery Barn, West Elm and more. Some even display in-store signage.
“A lot the stores [believe that they’re] able to sell more furniture or more items because [shoppers] can get it home fast,” explains Brown. “They know their customers want it now,” he says.
At launch, Lugg was a bootstrapped, three-person team including Brown, plus co-founders Steve Zerneri, previously an operations manager at Uber, and engineer Eric Kreutzer. But Zerneri left the company shortly after its debut.
With the additional funding, the company will now be able to grow the team, including hires in both engineering and operations. It will also expand from being an iOS-only app to include support for Android.
Lugg makes sense as an alternative to hiring a mover or a do-it-yourself option, like U-Haul. But if the service takes off, it could face competition from bigger players like Uber, which has been working to expand the types of on-demand vehicles and delivery services available to consumers, which today include everything from black cars, to taxis and SUVs and even the option for hauling around kids.
Lugg’s app is a free download on iTunes.
(Image credits: Lugg, Lugg Instagram)