Real-time ratings app Vyb, which launched last year and shuttered in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic this summer, was founded by a group of Drexel University students.
Three months later, cofounders Adit Gupta and Tom Falzani are back with a new venture they launched with a quick turnaround. It’s thanks to some lessons learned from the last startup and leaning into a need the pandemic has presented for many.
The now-Drexel alums launched Lula, a convenience store delivery subscription service that allows folks to order from places like 7-Eleven or their local corner store. Instead of paying a delivery fee every time, the customer pays a weekly, monthly or yearly subscription fee.
And the startup is committed to sustainability, pushing for carbon-neutral delivery methods like bike, scooter or electric cars. They’re cutting down on single-use plastics, instead opting for reusable tote bags. The startup is also partnering with local sustainable food companies like Simply Good Jars.
The idea came because Gupta had previously helped his parents run a store which recently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team thought about a few different options for their inventory, like trying to sell to Amazon or Shopify. But Gupta wanted a solution that would be better for mom and pop stores and convenience stores which generally fare well in a recession.
“It’s providing a service with a more burning need compared to what we were offering from Vyb,” Gupta said.
They brought a lot of lessons learned — like keeping the team trim and finding product market fit before launch — with them from Vyb. All of the team’s advisors also stayed on to counsel on the new startup, he added.
The app allows store owners to input inventory on the platform, and a runner called a “voyager” will pick up and deliver the items to the customer. The team, which right now is just Gupta and Falzani, are working on a SaaS platform that would allow store owners to scan items directly into the app.
For customers, the app costs $3.99 a week, $11.99 a month or $129.99 a year, and that covers unlimited orders including fees and tip for the driver. The food delivery scene is crowded with apps like Grubhub, DoorDash and Caviar, the pair said, but aside from goPuff, which does instant deliveries like these but from centralized warehouses and at a per-order price, the market is open.
The company is raising a pre-seed round, and is aiming to get 500 paying customers by the end of the year. They’re currently working with about a dozen Philadelphia stores and about 15 in New Jersey.
The cofounders are pushing to hire voyagers within the city and for them to earn competitive pay. A goal is for folks who don’t have a job right now to be able to support themselves without the need for tips.
“We’re trying to make the driving fleet experience more rewarding,” Falzani said. “We’ve heard feedback from drivers for companies like Instacart, Uber Eats are fed up, and we want to be incentivizing the drivers.”