If you ever wanted to get paid to drive strangers around, you've probably already found Uber or Lyft — the "sharing economy" startups that have grown wildly in popularity in the last year.
The founders of a new startup called Carry think the strangers-trusting-strangers model can be applied to package delivery. With their new platform, anyone looking to ship a package can upload a description of their item and a person with free time on their hands can act as a makeshift messenger.
On the other side, travelers hoping to reduce the cost of their dream vacation could make easy cash by simply carrying an package that a shipper needs to get to Hawaii faster and cheaper than FedEx or UPS could offer.
But might that sound like a potential courier service for unsavory — even criminal — types? Not so, says Carry co-founder Ilya Rehkter.
"This is an online, peer-to-peer marketplace for people who want to ship things with travelers who can carry the packages for them," Rehkter told TheBlaze. "We do a lot of business shipping and we thought of starting carry to give people a way to travel and make some money, but also to get packages delivered with more transparency."
So where did they get the idea?
"We read a Wall Street Journal article last year that said the major carriers left over 2 million packages on trucks that were supposed to be delivered on Christmas Eve," he said. "They are the Grinches, and we want to save Christmas from the Grinches."
Rehkter said that's one main reason the company is launching now: to give holiday shippers another option.
"What really got us interested was a few conversations we had with some UPS store owners, who said people would come in wanting to ship to destinations like India or Greece and he would turn them away because the company wasn't confident in delivering to those locations, and he didn't want to deal with the headache," Rehkter said.
"There are a lot of these edge cases and other international situations that he simply wouldn't guarantee in under four days because it isn't realistic with basic carriers," he said.
Rehkter isn't new to the logistics — or costs — involved in shipping: his first business had to do with shipping business proposals to a recipient for government contracts.
"Some of these proposals would be worth hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars," he said. "Now, all of a sudden, your trip to Scandinavia becomes very affordable to ensure the proposal is delivered on time."
Rekhter says this sharing economy model — which essentially asks users on both ends of the transaction to put a decent amount of faith in the peer-review system as the primary safety check — will also include other safety parameters, like background checks and 1099 subcontractor forms.
"The traveler has the right to inspect the package before they agree to carry it, so it's completely up to them whether they feel comfortable with the item and the shipper," he said. "We will know the people who are sending the packages — it won't just be some Joe Schmo."
With only a few days left to deliver packages before the end of the holiday season, and with FedEx trucks spilling over on the New Jersey turnpike, Carry's sharing-economy model may just gain steam.
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