Marc Diamond of Cotati has an idea he believes can revolutionize the shipping industry not unlike the way Uber and Lyft have upended the taxi business.
It’s called Shipbird and it uses crowd sourcing technology to connect people who want something delivered with those willing to deliver it. The service takes advantage of daily commuters from one Bay Area community to another, allowing drivers to earn extra cash for a trip they make anyway.
“The difference between us and everybody else is this is the first technology that actually incorporates people’s routes,” Diamond said. “It matches up daily commutes with packages that need to be delivered.”
Diamond said a same-day Shipbird delivery costs about half of what you’d expect to pay FedEx or DHL for overnight delivery service. The service has been fully operational since May and has already attracted 2,000 users and logged about 120 actual deliveries.
“The more people we have using the system, the more jobs there are available and the more opportunities there are,” Diamond said.
Diamond, 34, is originally from Texas and moved to the North Bay four years ago. He continues to operate a Texas-based real estate business called Real Estate Options of Texas, dealing mostly in residential homes.
About a year ago, a broker with the company was faced with the task of having to pick up a check at bank on the north side of Houston for an investor who was participating in a real estate auction the next day. Diamond, who was in Cotati and communicating with the broker by telephone, knew the cross-town run would put the broker in traffic for at least three hours.
“I started thinking about how many thousands of people drive from the north side of Houston to the south side of Houston every day that would have been willing to pick up that check for some extra cash,” he said.
When you register with the service at Shipbird.com, users create a profile that includes their availability and commute patterns. That information is matched up with users who want to make a delivery.
Diamond said the service has a number of safeguards that would raise flags if someone attempted to use it to deliver dangerous products or illegal items, such as guns or drugs. These uses are prohibited by the company, just as they would be with any other delivery service, he said.
The service is capable of providing background checks for delivery people. Also, the service will give senders the option to insure valuable objects.
The service is currently limited to a 100-mile radius that covers the nine-county Bay Area, but Diamond said expansion to other areas is as easy as entering new ZIP codes into the system’s software, which was designed by San Francisco-based LitmusBox.
Shipbird uses PayPal to authenticate users and process payments. The company’s share of each delivery is 15 percent and the driver gets the other 85 percent, Diamond said.
“It is growing,” Diamond said. “Just with the little marketing we’ve done, we’re happy with the 2,000 people we’ve got so far. By the end of the year, it could be over 4,000.”
Diamond said Shipbird is about to ramp up a new marketing and sales team that will attract more users. To date, most of the company’s marketing has been done through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, he said.