Retail

Uber Of X: goPuff Is The Uber Of Convenience Store Items

Making a run to the corner store for one item, or even a few small items, can sometimes be a difficult feat to accomplish.

Whether it’s lack of time in a busy schedule, transportation issues, proximity to a good store or just plain, “I’m going to stay home in my PJs and not do anything” laziness, convenience store runs can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth. However, getting a few rolls of toilet paper or cough drops to soothe a sore throat are necessities and still need to be retrieved.

Imagine being home alone and sick without a friend or family member to bring over crackers and Sprite.

One company that’s looking to make life a little bit sweeter and easier is startup company goPuff. This company takes every day items found at a convenience store and delivers them to consumers’ front door. We sat down with goPuff’s Co-Founders, Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, to learn more about how the company started and where it plans to take its business in the future.

PYMNTS: What is the story behind how goPuff started?

RI and YG: While attending Drexel a couple years ago, we found it unbelievable that there wasn’t an online alternative to running around, store after store, cab after cab, to get the supplies and products students and young professionals needed daily. Thus, goPuff was conceived out of a need for convenience. What began as the perfect collegiate service quickly evolved into something larger and something [that] everyone, regardless of age or profession, could make a part of their every day. Now, goPuff is the fastest and most convenient on-demand delivery application in the country, offering thousands of products — such as snacks, beverages, electronics, alcohol, household items, pet supplies, etc. — delivered in 30 minutes or less, for just a small fee of $1.95, which is waived for orders over $49.

PYMNTS: In your own words, what is goPuff about?

RI and YG: We’re all about convenience. How can we deliver the goPuff customer the variety of products they want, when they want, where they want it — and for an affordable price? Furthermore, how do we create an experience so unique and so unforgettable that when the customer thinks “I need” or “I want,” he or she immediately turns to goPuff? Building a service that works with our customer’s lifestyle, not against it, no matter the lifestyle — this is the essence of the goPuff mission.

PYMNTS: How does the pricing model work, and how does goPuff get paid?

RI and YG: Our pricing model works very similar to any retail convenience store. Since we own our inventory, we make our money on margins the same way a supermarket or convenience store does. GoPuff strides to keep [its] prices as competitive as possible and does not add any additional markups to the products.

PYMNTS: Who does goPuff see as its competition, if any, and why?

RI and YG: We see our main competition as, simply put, convenience stores. They are the only businesses that provide the same products as us, and consumers have been using them for years and will continue to do so. But we’re providing a convenience service — not just the store. What makes goPuff unique from other delivery services is that we have local warehouses in every city, stocked with inventory, allowing us to control the experience and bring products directly to our customers. This means faster and more cost-efficient delivery, as we don’t spend on other stores to operate, making us a true “one-stop shop.”

PYMNTS: Since its inception, how much has goPuff grown year over year? Does it have any future projections for where it hopes to grow within the next few years?

RI and YG: Since we started in 2013, we’ve expanded to now fifteen major markets, including Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Columbus, OH; Denver, CO; Manayunk, PA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; State College, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Tucson, AZ and Washington, D.C. and continue to expand rapidly, with revenue increasing 25 percent month over month. Within the next few years, we hope to be in every major U.S. market, with additional plans to expand internationally.

PYMNTS: How many rounds of funding has goPuff received?

RI and YG: We closed our Series A round at $8.25 million in June 2016.

PYMNTS: What does the term “Uber of X” mean to you, and how does goPuff fit that mold?

RI and YG: To a customer, the term “Uber X” means [immediacy]. A rider doesn’t want to wait any more than a few minutes for their car service, and a goPuff customer doesn’t want to wait any more than 30 minutes for their order. When you need something or are craving something, you not only want to be, but expect to be, fulfilled immediately.

PYMNTS: As most startups have their fair share of hiccups, can you share a few lessons-learned anecdotes?

RI and YG: There are many lessons to be learned while growing a business, the first and everlasting one being that nothing can be achieved without hard work. Even as your startup takes off, even as you see success, even as your team builds itself, every decision, circumstance and milestone you and your company face will still be met with extreme challenges. Don’t expect the adversity to slow down, expect it to speed up and use this understanding to be better prepared for what is unexpected.

PYMNTS: What are goPuff’s 2017 goals?

RI and YG: In 2017, our goals are to expand to a new major U.S. market every month, cut down delivery times and become a household name for on-demand convenience store delivery.

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