Wagon co-founder Mike Hanson helped deliver a Pac-Man arcade machine.

Back in 2008, Mike Hanson decided to do a little A/B test on Craigslist. He listed the same piece of furniture online twice — one with delivery included, and the other without.

“I received so many calls from buyers interested in purchasing the couch with delivery that I had to pull the ad after just one hour,” Hanson recalled.

Hanson then began buying $40 sofas on Craigslist and re-listing them for $200 with delivery. This sparked a startup idea: If he could produce enough business by himself, what could a fleet trucks doing the same thing turn into?

The answer is Wagon, a new Seattle service that matches those with trucks to those that need big items delivered.

“The moving industry has seen little disruption in decades, while retaining a reputation of being intimidating and unfriendly,” Hanson told GeekWire. “And yet it’s an $11 billion industry. It’s ripe for innovation, and we’re going for it.”

getwagonThe idea is similar to Uber, Lyft and Airbnb — new companies in the “sharing economy,” that help people make money off stuff they already own. Wagon uses a mobile and web app to crowdsource people with trucks to satisfy the demand of people without trucks.

Users simply enter the address of the pickup and dropoff locations, then request a driver, who is trackable in real-time. Wagon charges customers a flat fee of $60 per hour, with a majority of that revenue going to the courier once the job is completed (Wagon takes a small cut of every transaction).

The concept behind Wagon is similar to Ghostruck, a Seattle startup that emerged last month from the 9Mile Labs business accelerator.

“The only true competition is U-haul and your uncle’s truck,” said Ghostruck CEO Nathanael Nienaber, a former account executive at Georgia-Pacific.

Wagon’s Hanson has teamed up with Labs8, a two-year-old private Seattle-based incubator and interactive agency, to help fund Wagon and accelerate the startup’s growth.

Mike Ma
Mike Ma

“We loved the idea,” said Labs8 founding partner Mike Ma. “Plus, we felt we had the right kind of experience to take the seed idea into scale. We’ve gone through a number of iterations since then, improving the idea little by little, until arriving at the Wagon model that exists today.”

There are certainly existing delivery options, from your friend down the street with a truck to something like U-Haul. But Ma noted how Wagon not only relieves the neighborhood truck owner from constant pro-bono work, but also helps those with trucks make money.

Wagon said it is well-aware of the safety issues surrounding sharing economy companies like Uber and Airbnb, and screens all drivers with background checks.

“We’re currently evaluating insurance options to protect customers,” Ma added.

There are also plans to offer different types of delivery vehicles, from cargo vans to large box trucks (only pickup trucks are used for now). Wagon is piloting its business in Seattle for now, with expansion a possibility in the near future.

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  • Loren Bast

    Isn’t this similar to http://uship.com, which was started in Austin about 10 years ago?

    • Fatchel Gillsmith

      It’s nothing like uShip. UShip ypu put your job on there and people bid on it and users are bombarded with bids and estimates. This is way better and more intuitive.

  • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

    I think the biggest competition is the DIY Home Depot/Lowes Truck rentals for the $25 for 75minutes + gas. I’ve used HD/Lowes a ton for picking up grills/couches/etc after I make a (large) purchase from craigslist or even from macys. The gotcha is sometimes the availability at hd/lowes, or if you would need it for more than 75 minutes.

    • Mike

      If you’d add your time of driving then it ends up taking up much of your day. With Wagon, you literally can sit at home and wait for the items to show up, sign for it and be sitting in the couch you just bought.

      • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

        Generally, when I need a large object moved from a purchased transaction, I want to see it in person/feel it/etc since its not really a commodity product. My typical workflow is to visit a store/person/etc and either pay for it/reserve it/etc and then go pickup the local $25 truck. The additional 75 minutes isn’t that big of a deal all things considered. Not sure if I’d be buying many things unseen/sat in/etc that are that bulky.

        • http://www.tonywright.com/ Tony Wright

          Seems like inspecting it and then heading home and sending a “wagon” to grab it would be way less painful than the home depot + gas station round-trip… Assuming they could be in the $30-40 price point, I’d do it in a heartbeat. They should also do dump runs. :-)

          • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

            agreed, but they are talking about $60/hr minimum, not quite there for any large craigslist I’m purchasing if I can do it for $25 and change.

          • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

            I think the point of the narrative is to describe a seller-bought product for the delivery service that’s included. This probably isn’t a buyer-bought product, ’cause if they’re on craigslist anyhow they’re probably a HD/Lowes style customer anyhow from a buying/getting my own transportation style system :) The narrative of having a higher response rate with shipping included makes a lot of sense to me, if they can put in $90 shipping, charge $200, instead of $60 of you pickup, then its a win.

          • http://frugalmechanic.com/ Eric Peters

            extra +1 on dump runs, the sad part there is the cost of the dump run

        • Alec Matias

          You can still go and inspect the product before you purchase, then let someone else handle the movement. I went through both methods recently, renting a truck from Home Depot and using Ghostruck to move furniture, and I’ll use Ghostruck every time from now on, hands-down. I’m certainly biased since I was in the same cohort as Ghostruck, but it took Home Depot 20 minutes to find the person to rent me a truck. With Ghostruck, I managed everything from my smartphone and didn’t have to spend any time worrying about how to move something.

  • http://www.bestgeekfriend.com Matt Ebert

    Hey, that’s me! :) Wagon is AWESOME!

  • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    Is this another business model of competing by operating illegally?

    Looking at Wagon’s FAQ, it appears that anyone can sign up to be an independent contractor “courier” yet state laws require companies moving household goods to be state-licensed and insured. There’s nothing I could find on the Wagon site about either Wagon being licensed or them requiring their contractors to be licensed. And there’s the whole issue of personal insurance not covering vehicles used for commercial purposes.

    Maybe somehow Wagon is complying with 480-15 WAC http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=480-15 but you sure can’t tell it on their website. And Wagon is not on this list: http://www.utc.wa.gov/regulatedIndustries/transportation/householdGoods/Pages/PermittedCarriersHouseholdGoods.aspx

    Wagon: feel free to respond and explain how you are complying with the law.

    For the haters out there who think the law is stifling innovation, Ghostruck is innovating in this space and managing to comply with the law. They contract moves out only to licensed companies (see the FAQ on their http://www.ghostruck.com).

    • Fatchel Gillsmith

      I have a registered UTC moving company in Washington State and Ghostruck is not permitted. Also the truck and guys they do use are not on it either. Even though they are undercutting my business I’m not a snitch. WAGON is delivery which does not have to register with the UTC.

      • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

        Going by the Wagon and Ghostruck web sites, the former says nothing about using licensed companies while the latter does. You say that “delivery” services don’t need to register and I can’t find any info about that online. Can you provide a link? I guess it depends on whether or not what they are delivering is considered “household goods”.

        480-15 WAC says “A carrier must receive a permit from the commission before transporting household goods, for compensation, by motor vehicle over public roads between two points within the state, or before advertising, soliciting, offering, or entering into an agreement to transport household goods.” and it defines household goods as “The personal effects and property used, or to be used, in a residence…”. It sounds to me like if I buy a couch and intend to use it in my residence, then it’s a household good but IANAL.

        I agree that there’s a problem if rates are regulated by the UTC and Ghostruck and Wagon aren’t following them. That would be the same problem as Uber and Lyft illegally undercutting licensed taxi companies. That doesn’t mean that Wagon/Ghostruck can’t succeed charging the regulated rates. Licensed carriers may be willing to pay a commission to bring in business they otherwise wouldn’t get.

        Hey Taylor: here’s an opportunity for some real journalism, instead of just rewriting press releases. Maybe you can investigate and tell us what the real story is here?

        • Fatchel Gillsmith

          Don’t believe everything you read on a website. Ghostruck says that but currently they have an in house truck with no USDOT # which means they are not WUTC. Jobs are serviced with their own truck and two movers who are on call with small monthly salaries. Any and all moves Ghostruck has done thus far has been illegal. Where every WAGON job has been customer assisted and according to tariff 15-C removes the need for the permit. As does every simple delivery and small hauling load. Also WAGON jobs are currently performed by WUTC companies even though it’s not required. Before you decide to put WAGON on blast after a nice write up about them and uplift Ghostruck do your research.

          • Learning64

            That seems a little snarky and defensive…

          • Fatchel Gillsmith

            Just wondering what the guys aim is to pull down WAGON after such a nice article.

          • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

            This is offensive. I have no hidden agenda. Do you have “one? What is your affiliation with Wagon? You seem to have inside knowledge that you would only have if you were working with them (“I have a registered UTC moving company…” and “WAGON jobs have been performed by WUTC certified companies…”). Hmm.

            How is it “pulling them down” to wonder if they’re operating legally? Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, but attacking me doesn’t change the facts either way.

            To be clear, I think there’s a good idea here and an unfilled need (both Wagon and Ghostruck). There certainly are services like http://www.twomenandatruckseattle.com/ that can handle these small jobs but they aren’t targeting same day jobs.

            I recently did a household move and learned a little bit about the legal requirements here and how many companies operate outside the law. It should come as no surprise that Uber and Lyft didn’t invent the idea of operating illegally.

          • Fatchel Gillsmith

            I know Hanson in the picture, he know a lot of movers that are UTC certified. And I am a UTC certified mover and have serviced WAGON gigs, so yes i am biased. We are more upset that Ghostruck claims to pass the job leads to certified movers when they use own their own truck and do it unregistered. They don’t compete with WAGON it is a very different business. Your first comment seemed accusatory, and as a WAGON service provider needed to be defended. We work hard to be UTC certified and WAGON has found a niche that allows them to not have to use registered trucks, but they currently do. None of us who are UTC certified are too fond of the organization and we would never tell on a company that operates outside the rules because were too busy trying to follow the rules. I apologize that i thought you had an aim or agenda. As far as two men and a truck, they are hands down the best in the biz. Those of us that have large moving companies strive to be like them. They surly set the standard.

    • Fatchel Gillsmith

      Just so you know all ghostruck jobs thus far have been performed in house and they are not registered with the WUTC. Also it will be impossible for Ghostruck to compete in moving and use registered companies because the WUTC controls the pricing. So no real moving company can afford to have a middle man when the service is offered at a discounted price. WAGON jobs have been performed by WUTC certified companies thus far even though they are not required.

  • Guest

    Congrats to Wagon! This will make my life easier. I have chosen to allow it.

  • Ali Alami

    Great service which I’d use and recommend. I just downloaded it and love the interface. I see this being great for home depot as time is money on home projects (especially when you have friends lined up to help) and not having to take the time to return a truck has value, plus you get someone to help you load or unload. Also would use Wagon for dump runs, figuring out the dump fee payment would be a nice feature.

  • Emma Coulson

    Personally, if I’m paying $60/hour and I have a large item, I’m not sure I will want to help out with the moving of the item as there’s only one driver and no apparent access to a forklift or powered ramp. Seems like a pretty steep fare for me if I have to do half the work. Either they need to make the service 100% hands-off moving for the customer, or we all need to use Ghostruck as our Uber for large-item moving. Because let’s face it, this is the time when you need a truck. And I know they’ll just take care of it so it’s hands-off for me.

  • Steve

    This is perfect for me. I didn’t know about the $25 HD/Lowes option, so I rented a Uhaul pickup for a 1-hour round trip craigslist couch pickup which cost me around $70 when it was all said and done. Even with the $25 option, I find it easily worth the extra $35 for a wagon if it means I don’t have to do an extra drive to/from truck rental and can be at home the whole time watching a game.

  • Barry

    Sounds pretty similar to Buddytruk in LA

  • Big Poppa

    There is a similar company launching in San Diego and NJ named GoShare. They are looking for drivers currently http://www.goshare.co

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