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On Demand Businesses 101

Meet 'Schlep' – Helping people find a neighbor with a truck for easy logistics – Startup Story #31

Schlep_A

Finding help when you got something to be moved from one place to another is not that easy. Schlep, an on demand startup in logistics space can make your task super easy by connecting you to someone who has a truck and is willing to lend a hand. This week, we bring you the success story of Schlep which tags itself as ‘Your Neighbor With a Truck’.

Q1.Starting a marketplace platform is definitely a great idea. Tell us a little about Schlep and your personal motivation for starting this marketplace?

Schlep started over 2 years ago because a couple of us had to move a credenza for one of our moms. We exhausted many options but were only left with our own labor, sweat, and mid-sized car. Part of our team is from the Chicago area and part is from Arkansas, and we realized there is a tremendous need here in Chicago to have access to a Neighbor With A Truck. In Arkansas, this was a luxury we took for granted, but it’s more difficult to find in Chicago. So we started Schlep – a local service for schlepping large and heavy stuff for our neighbors.

Q2.Can you give us a rundown of how it works?

Well, it all flows through our web application (www.schlep.it). Any customer or business partner can request a Schlep – just tell us: the item, the pick up location, and drop off location. Then, that request is routed through our platform and accepted by our Schleppers. These Schleppers are the foundation of our business; they bring the customer a coffee to sip while the Schlep is completed. Upon completion, payments are processed securely on the platform.

Q3. What is the value proposition you are offering to customers ?

Schlep’s value to its customers and partners is built upon the consistent, quality work done by our Schleppers and service by our team overall. People often don’t have the means to move heavy items themselves, and let’s be honest, if you do have the means, it’s still not fun. In the past, if you purchased something, you probably didn’t know who was delivering your family’s new couch or the design piece that you love – now it’s our trusted and vetted Schleppers. Plus, Schleppers work on our customer’s schedule, so it’s convenient for them. (Between 7am-9pm because Schleppers have to sleep, too.)

Q4. What is one particular Marketing Tool or process which you swear by, that has helped you gain more users on the platform?

To this point, we’ve seen an impressive return from word-of-mouth, which has been fun and allows us to connect the dots while watching our relationships in Chicago flourish. But the main thing we talk about at HQ is our commitment to quality and consistency. We believe that being committed to simple tenets like those, and etching them into all that we do, will get the best response from consumers and businesses alike. It’s the experience of using Schlep, not just on your mobile device, but in the real life situations that will continue to differentiate us. Our awesome customers and partners have become our brand advocates!

Q5. How did you go about getting Schleppers on your platform?

Getting Schleppers on board was even more challenging than expected, which actually speaks to the value of our brand – finding ‘Your Neighbor with a Truck’ in the city isn’t easy. We started by simply pounding the pavement then, like any business, we’ve gotten great candidates via referrals from the great people and Schleppers who are already on our platform. We hold our Schleppers to a high standard, so tapping into these networks is crucial.

Q6. What are your future plans? Are you planning to integrate more features in the service?

Our plans are to build upon our new web platform, which launched Dec 7th. It allows for customers to see live quotes for schleps as they enter information. In addition, they can create an account to save their schlep history and billing information. In the first quarter of 2016, we’ll be implementing an automated internal platform for our Schleppers as well. These platforms will allow us to bolster our Milwaukee operations and scale to two new cities in 2016.

Q7. What is Schlep’s biggest achievement to date? How did you go about accomplishing this?

We’re very proud of the fact that we’ve defined a new industry niche, in which we’ve been able to schlep thousands of Chicago’s most cherished items. And while doing that, we’ve supplemented the income for nearly 100 working professionals. Accomplishing this on a daily basis has been our mission from day one, so we’ve gotten to this point by being willing to do the heavy lifting every day, (play on words intended).

Q8. Where do you see Schlep in five years?

It’s hard to say because we’re in unchartered waters. However, considering the traction we have in Chicago and how we can apply this model to other cities, we are confident we can have a presence in 20-25 markets by 2020 with continued momentum.

Q9. Any advice for startups trying to make it big as a marketplace model?

Do your homework! The very nature of a marketplace requires the business owner to have a well developed understanding of multiple audiences. Understanding both the supply and demand side of the market you are trying to build is essential. After you have that understanding, focus your sweat and energy on your core competency, never making sacrifices that hurt it, only fostering its growth forward.

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