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.”
The 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 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.
“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.