How a mix-up led this startup to a big growth spurt

Newark's DeliveryCircle is a national service. It took an unexpected push to get it there.

DeliveryCircle’s national expansion was kicked off by a simple, honest mistake.

Founder Vijaya Rao was once asked if the company’s app-based same-day delivery service was available in D.C. As in Washington D.C.

Rao could have sworn the potential client had said “D. E,” as in Delaware, where the startup was born and where it was doing just fine in a small market, with Newark as its headquarters.

When Rao explained to one of the startups’ trustees that the service a potential DC client wanted was not actually live in DC yet, he simply said, ‘well, you have to be.”

And with that, DeliveryCircle dove head-first into its first non-local market sooner than expected.

Fortunately for Rao, DeliveryCircle’s setup was designed to easily expand to different markets – at least in theory. Part old-school courier service, part tech-driven Uber-like app, it was poised to grow. They even had drivers already signed up in DC, since the website allowed applicants from any location.

The only thing they didn’t have was actual, working experience running the service outside of Delaware. And that made expanding more of a plan than an action.

“It was the push we needed,” Rao said. “It was a very positive thing for the business.”

Since DeliveryCircle made that sudden leap into the DC market, it’s expanded across the country with 20 major markets, including most of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, parts of the northern Midwest, as well as cities in Florida, Texas and Georgia.

“We served around 20 ZIP codes in Delaware starting out,” said Rao. “Now we serve around 4,500.”

The lesson here? Well, your startup might not be so lucky as to have an unexpected miscommunication that leads to rapid growth – but, as Rao stresses, you can learn from her experience.

“Don’t be afraid to just jump in,” she says.

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