Industry: Retail / Ecommerce
Founding Student Name(s): Chase Robbins, Mia McCarthy
Brief Description of Solution: Handle profitably delivers 500+ convenience products to college students in 15 minutes or less.
Funding Dollars: $1.6M
What led you to launch this venture? During 2020, we were starting our freshman year at USC mid-COVID. We noticed a ton of our friends using delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats to order convenience store products to their dorms. We realized that when it comes to delivery, the college consumer was severely underserved. We set out to build the ideal delivery service for us and our friends.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? We’re particularly proud of two metrics with our business:
1) We’ve delivered over 100,000 orders to college students at 4 universities.
2) We’ve paid out over $300,000 in wages to student workers; many of whom wouldn’t be able to work other jobs. We’ve designed our “Handler” role to support students with incredibly flexible scheduling, which can accommodate various academic or extracurricular conflicts.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? Studying entrepreneurship at USC has given us access to incredible resources which have aided in areas such as fundraising, financial planning, hiring, and compliance.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? “The Garage Experience” offered by the Iovine and Young Academy, taught by Professor Matthew Manos, has provided a class structure and curriculum that has contributed significantly to our business. The biggest lesson we have learned from this class is thinking about our business from first principles; we cannot be afraid to question all assumptions made about our venture in an effort to produce the most robust and scalable business possible.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Jean-Michel Arnoult, our entrepreneur-in-residence, has served as a critical resource for us in the strategy and fundraising aspects of our business.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Early in our venture, we had a meeting with Emil Michael, the ex-COO of Uber who reported directly to Travis Kalanick and launched Uber China. We were completely unprepared and did not do a good job pitching him. He was kind, but gave us very honest feedback about how little we seemed to understand the business. Although we didn’t know it at the time, he was completely right. To this day we still joke about how poorly that meeting went. Although it seemed to have gone poorly, we learned important lessons about humility and preparation.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our long-term goal with our startup is to offer quick delivery of all of a student’s essential needs to every student in the country.
How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? The USC Startup ecosystem has been critical to our success. We’ve participated in some way with most of the entrepreneurship organizations on campus; we have competed and won Pitch Competitions; and we have attended Investor/Founder mixers. All of these events have allowed us to build a strong community around our venture.
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