Marc Gorlin was sitting in his truck in Montgomery, Ala., needing to get bathroom tile from Birmingham to the Florida Panhandle, when he was struck with a realization: Dozens, if not hundreds, of people would just so happen to be making that trip in the coming days or weeks.
And with that, the serial entrepreneur had an idea for his next business.
Roadie aims to connect people taking road trips with people who need things moved along those same routes.
“There’s someone leaving everywhere and going everywhere all the time,” said Gorlin, who founded the company last year. “We have a greater transportation heat map than FedEx, UPS and U.S. Postal Service combined.”
Roadie, which is both web- and app-based (www.roadie.com
), works like this: Someone with something to be delivered posts the details (what it is, where it’s starting and where it’s headed). Would-be haulers search the offers for those that fit their travel plans. After being approved by the person who posted the so-called “gig,” the two parties hammer out the pickup and drop-off details.
Local gigs typically pay between $8 and $50, and up to about $600 for a long trip with an oversized item or pet. There are two bonus perks: a free Waffle House waffle for downloading the app and registering as a Roadie driver; and one free Waffle House beverage after picking up merchandise to be transported.
Roadie has about 23,000 drivers in all 50 states, Gorlin said, though he declined to say how many deliveries have been made through the service.
Drivers aren’t subject to the most rigorous background checks; Gorlin said his company confirms that they have a valid driver’s license and insurance, as well as bank account information to make a deposit. But the only mishap so far has been one broken picture frame, he added.
“When I look you in the eye,” Gorlin said, “you’ll take care of my stuff better than a faceless corporation would.”