Plenty of startups have put forth their own ideas to conquer the last mile of deliveries in a fast and cost-effective way. While some prefer autonomous crawlers and others drones flying high in the sky, one startup still in stealth has raised an eye-raising amount of funding with a deceptively simple approach to the issue: connect all of the solutions possible.
TechCrunch reported that Stuart, a startup headed by successful entrepreneurs Dominique Leca (Sparrow email client), Clement Benoit (restaurant delivery app Resto-In) and Benjamin Chemla (food delivery service Citycake.fr), has raised €22 million ($23.5 million) to continue development of a systems-level approach to last-mile deliveries. Instead of a single tech breakthrough, TechCrunch explained that Stuart instead claims to connect different courier methods, such as cyclists, drivers and automated resources, through differing dropoff and pickup points to operate in a pool-like fashion for rapid deliveries.
Because Stuart has not officially launched yet, details on the particulars of the software aren't currently known. However, TechCrunch speculated that the service may run as a veritable conductor of a network of delivery services. If a driver can run a more efficient journey on another route by dropping certain packages not intended for his destination, they could be picked up by another courier on his or her way to that item's intended location.
In addition to faster deliveries, Stuart also claims to offer lower prices as a result of more efficient use of the network. This would buoy reports of a successful beta test of its public app in Paris that saw more than 1,000 deliveries in the space of a single month.
While TechCrunch wondered if the strength of its founders' reputations weren't driving Stuart's funding up a bit past where it might otherwise be, there's no doubt that plenty of investors believe that there's something to watch in this startup's holistic approach to the rapid growth of eCommerce.