If you're a courier startup, it's the call you hope for: Michelle Obama wants barbecue. Can you get it to her?
Austin-based Dropoff made it happen Wednesday, delivering bags of brisket from Micklethwait Craft Meats in East Austin to the First Lady's plane on the tarmac at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport . Michelle Obama was in Austin to speak at a South by Southwest event.
"We got the call, loaded up the van with the barbecue and headed straight to the airport," said founder Sean Spector. "It was exciting because it's not every day you're delivering something to the first family."
Last year, the company raised $7 million in funding from Greycroft Partners, Correlation Ventures, Wild Basin Capital and other investors.
Now Dropoff is using that money to make a a growth push. The company recently expanded beyond Austin and Houston to San Antonio and Dallas. This year it plans to add more Texas cities and expand outside of Texas.
The company is targeting food and grocery, healthcare, retail and e-commerce companies. Customers include Whole Foods stores; pharmacy Amerita and small retailers such as Sprinkles Cupcakes.
Airbnb, the short-term rental site, is also a Dropoff customer, and has kept the company's couriers busy during South by Southwest.
"All week we've been delivering VIP welcome to Austin gifts for the guests when they arrive," Spector said. "We did it in 2015 and they asked us to do it again."
Spector said he got the idea for Dropoff after having a bad experience with a courier service.
"I did a lot of research on the industry and realized not much has changed in the last several decades," he said. "I felt like a shift was coming, and there was an opportunity, and we could be part of that."
Dropoff's main competitors are local mom and pop couriers. Spector said Dropoff provides a better customer experience than traditional delivery services because its Web and mobile software provide real-time tracking, up-to-the-minute arrival estimates and upfront pricing.
Its couriers, who are contract workers, make deliveries by bike, car or SUV.
Spector said the courier business is moving beyond traditional customers like law firms and specialized businesses such as machinery parts.
"The businesses we work for, their customers expect this," Spector said. "It lets our customers be really good at what they're good at. They're really great at making barbecue but not really good at coordinating dozens of deliveries a day. This lets someone who is 100 percent focused do it for you."
Spector previously founded GameFly, a California-based online video game rental subscription service. Before that, he was an agent for the Lost Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency.
Dropoff has 32 employees and is hiring in areas including operations and sales.
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