Last-mile, same-day delivery is a tough nut that many startups are trying to crack. Singapore-based Qourier enlists the help of the crowds to do the cracking.
As tired as “Uber for X” analogs are, Qourier actually does work very much like an Uber for logistics – people can open the app, request a delivery person and entrust them with their package.
Qourier focuses on items a person can either deliver on foot or, at most, with their car.
Couriers can be anyone – from Uber drivers who have clocked out to students riding the bus, co-founder Wong Yongjie tells Tech in Asia. People can register through the app and, after a verification and selection process, start taking jobs.
Payment is made through the app and the package is delivered on the same day (as long as it’s on its way reasonably early).
Packages range from envelopes and documents up to 20-kilogram boxes. These are items a person can either deliver on foot or, at most, with their car. Qourier focuses on that model to keep itself flexible and nimble, without having to worry about maintaining its own fleet of delivery vehicles and drivers.
Qourier was founded by Yongjie, Elston Yee, and Satheesh Thekku Veethil. All of them have started companies before that didn’t pan out, either because they never found product-market fit or because the co-founding teams didn’t gel, Yongjie says.
With Qourier, the team felt there was an opportunity worth exploring and that a crowdsourced solution was the way to go. Their app launched in March 2015. During the first few months, the team had to fulfill a lot of the deliveries itself as it was trying to get users on the platform.
Eventually, the #startup was able to convince businesses to work with them and now has over 500 clients using its services in Singapore – including several startups, although Yongjie won’t reveal any names.
With more than 5,000 delivery people on the platform, Yongjie says the number can easily fulfill the service’s job volume at the moment. Delivery prices start at US$3.50 and change according to item size and distance. A large item delivery available, in the 10 to 20 kg category, costs US$23.
More recently, the startup launched Qourier Air, an express international delivery service that benefits from discounted tariffs. It can do that by grouping together many deliveries from the firms it works with.
“Most [small- and medium-sized businesses] right now don’t have the volume to negotiate this kind of discount,” Yongjie says. “If you need to send something to the US it will cost you US$100. Through us, it will cost US$30 and reach its destination in three working days.”
For its efforts, Qourier has been rewarded with a seed round worth US$630,000, it announced today. The funding comes from Japanese IT company Startia and private investors Alex Tan, CIO for the Asia Pacific arm of German logistics company DB Schenker, and Eric Dadoun of Singapore-based investment firm Impiro.
The startup will use the funding to beef up its tech team – it has already debuted a redesigned version of its app. It’s also exploring expansion to other markets. Yongjie mentions Taipei is a market where the team has connections through clients and associates, while Qourier’s new investors can help with the Southeast Asia region.
Qourier’s edge in the quite crowded last-mile delivery space is its same-day delivery capability and its pool of delivery people, Yongjie says. He feels the niche of smaller item delivery is one the company can grow comfortably in, deflecting competition from startups like Lalamove and GoGoVan.
Other providers, like Ninja Van or Zyllem (some customers of which turned toward Qourier when Zyllem shifted its sights to software development), offer opportunities for collaboration and partnership.
Besides this new seed funding, Qourier has also raised US$70,000 from angel investor Evan Lim.
Converted from Singapore dollars. Rate: US$1 = S$1.41