It recently happened to me. I asked the person responsible for deliveries at “Globes”, Gadi, to bring a package from Tel Aviv to the newspaper’s news desk in Rishon LeZion. The request was made in the morning; the package was needed by the afternoon. Gadi, a professional and charming man, told us that he doubted whether he could meet the deadline, because he had no messengers available in Tel Aviv at that time. We pressed, and Gadi, being Gadi, completed the mission, and I received my package.
I am not alone. Many businesses using delivery services on a daily basis face the problem of inflexibility of their delivery vendor. This is one of the problems that The Grid Ltd., i.e. a network, which was founded in 2014 by CEO Gur Harel, Yuval Niv, and Nir Weiner, is trying to solve. The company has ten employees, and has raised $600,000 from Plus Ventures and others.
Harel says that The Grid has built a platform - a mobile app and website - that targets small and mid-sized businesses and individuals which need moment-to-moment (i.e. within 90 minutes) delivery services. The company currently operates in greater Tel Aviv. Its service is provided by a network of messengers, mostly freelancers, for whom the job is an extra source of income.
To understand the need for a moment-to-moment delivery solution, it is necessary to describe how most delivery services currently operate. “These are not technology-oriented companies, but operational-oriented companies,” says Harel. “Their delivery experience is quite old-fashioned. Usually, someone needing a delivery or to receive one must be a subscriber to one of these companies, calls the company’s call center, waits on the line for a few minutes, and after the order is place, has no idea about its status: when the package will be picked up, when it will reach its destination, etc. In the best case, the customer will get an SMS that the package has been collected. That is the experience of the end-user.”
In the case of small and mid-sized enterprises, the need for delivery services is clear. In the case of individuals, says Harel, The Grid is intended to facilitate his daily life. If we have forgotten his sunglasses at a café and have no time to go back and pick them up; if we need to return a signed rental contract to the landlord who lives in another city; when we need to take our smartphone to the lab for repairs, The Grid steps up to the plate. “The average cost of a delivery order for the individual in greater Tel Aviv is NIS 30, which is a lot less than the cost of any other solution, such as hailing a cab,” he says.
90 minutes - tops
“Logistically, most delivery companies use hired messengers, who work in shifts on fixed routes. For such a business to be viable, it must predetermine its tasks for the next day, the day after that, and so on. “Who knows what we’ll be doing tomorrow? Or schedule a day in advance and more or less know the workload with each customer, especially a large customer such as a law or CPA firm,” says Harel. “In most cases, the delivery company sets a minimum number of deliveries per month, which is the subscription prices. The Grid has created a new delivery model: each of our tasks is carried out within 90 minutes within greater Tel Aviv.”
Harel says that the platform is based on optimizing the route’s real time, making it possible to integrate unscheduled deliveries, and carry them out on time via the shortest route. “We don’t have to commit to a monthly subscription. Everyone can use the platform at any given moment,” he says.
The Grid already has a network of 150 messengers, most of whom are not employees, but individuals for whom deliveries is their job, or who do it part-time as an extra source of income. “We have many students, but also professionals, such as graphic designers. Most tasks are carried out on motor-scooters, but even a bicycle is possible,” says Harel. Messengers are chosen by a quick sorting process, which includes a face-to-face interview. “The moment someone joins our community of messengers, he can go on shift and receive tasks,” he says, adding that the average income per hour can be NIS 50. To maximize availability for customers, The Grid employs several messengers as company employees.”
As for geographic expansion, Harel says that Haifa or Jerusalem will be next target metropolis, after Tel Aviv. As for overseas, “We have a plan,” he says.
In the digital era, a growing number of the company’s customers are e-commerce firms, such as Marmalda Market and Winemarket. “In the past few weeks, we’ve even moved forward on collaborations with two of the largest companies in the Israeli market,” says Harel. “The low quality of delivery solutions is the biggest barrier to e-commerce in the Israeli and many other markets.”
Nielsen Innovate VP business development Dov Yarkoni says, “The Grid is a venture, which beyond its technological innovation, is trying to create non-standard value for its users (on the service providers side) in that it offers them a flexible source of income with special characteristics. It is hard to find examples of ventures which can offer every person, even those without skills or assets, such as a car, an efficient and convenient way to make money. There is also something exciting in working on a venture that does not begin and end with a computer code, but has the combined challenge of technology development and operative management, which has operational and tangible complexity, and good people who are dealing with this complexity in an impressive way.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 29, 2015
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