Retail

Applying The Marketplace Approach To Moving

moving van at house

It’s 2006. “The Departed” is the top movie. The iPhone is a year away. People use beepers for urgent communications. Bush the younger is president. Post-bubble internet startups are showing up with daily frequency, including a travel site called Expedia. A young man in the moving van business in Miami named Meyr Aviv takes note of Expedia. The site aggregates all the available travel, enables actual reservations and purchases. In general it makes a difficult customer experience full of potential fraud and rude service a pleasant, detached and seamless process.

Aviv studied Expedia and thought the general model could work for his business. Moving, he knew, could be a difficult customer experience full of potential fraud and rude service. Could he create an Expedia for moving?

Yes, he could. It took Aviv 13 years to finally know enough and plan enough to make his move. But a company called iMoving was born and this week announced $3 million in projected sales for 2020, a good start for an eCommerce van line platform. Like Expedia the iMoving website connects customers and independent movers with intuitive technology. Like Expedia it seeks to protect both van owner and customer by vetting quality service, screening companies that have been bad actors and providing perks like customizable to-do lists. In just 15 months, iMoving represents 500 different movers in nearly 650 cities.

“We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response and the growth we’ve seen,” said Aviv, who is CEO of the company. “I’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and I’ve been working on this idea for a few years now, perfecting the platform as we learned what was needed. So I knew that iMoving was a great idea, set to change nearly everything about how the moving industry worked. But I never could have anticipated how quickly we’ve grown. And with the sort of coverage we’ve already achieved — across hundreds of cities — I have proof to back up my vision.”

He does. And the success he’s seen so far comes from giving movers and customers a neutral zone to plan a move and conduct business. He took his Expedia schooling to personally certifying each mover in the network, which he was building over the past few years. It also protects the movers with itemized lists of exactly what they’re moving, and then ensuring they get paid through an on-board escrow service.

Aviv has a streetwise, practical sensibility about his business. His style is about as far away from Silicon Valley as Miami is from San Francisco.

“Look,” he says. “If you’re planning to move right now … you’re going to go to Google. You’re going to find a lead aggregator, you’re going to find moving companies, or even a private mortgage broker. So you don’t have to go to one company, you have to go to many. Now after you enter your email and phone number, probably two minutes after, you’re going to see a bunch of people calling you. OK, yeah, a lot of people, texting you, there’s going to be a lot of people sending you emails, everybody wants to get your business. And guess what, in order to get an exact price, you have to sit with every single company and spend about 45 minutes to get a quote, and after sitting with every single company. Forty-five minutes.”

Or, you could go to iMoving. Along with the revenue announcement, the company has announced the following feature set. On the digital planning side, customers can select their inventory by item, room and box to know exactly where their belongings will go at the new location. Customers can also receive competitive bids from multiple carriers, reinforced by reviews. Rates are locked in. Customers then pay the cost up front into iMoving’s escrow service. The funds are immediately released within 48 hours after the customer reports a successfully completed move.

“I started working in the moving industry back in 1999, as a foreman for a moving company in NYC, before buying my first truck and moving to Florida in 2003,” Aviv said. “I know both sides of this business, and I’ve seen moving companies come and go. But what I haven’t seen is a major new digital innovation in how moves are planned and performed. That’s exactly what was needed. And I’m happy to say: that’s exactly what iMoving now provides.”

Next up: funding. Aviv will test the market for capital with an eye toward expanding to more cities and adding more product features. But iMoving is off to a strong start.

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