Get a free waffle, help make delivery companies shudder: Roadie's CEO

How Roadie plans to disrupt the delivery biz
How Roadie plans to disrupt the delivery biz   

Roadie is one of the latest entrants into the so-called sharing economy—just don't call it a delivery application.

So says CEO Marc Gorlin, who told CNBC's "Closing Bell" this week that his Atlanta-based start-up is really "a community of people that help each other out."

One of those ways is by finding ways to score its users free vittles. Roadie just set a big partnership with Waffle House after only three weeks in operation. Roadie has already seen 7,500 downloads of its service, which connects drivers and senders. Fees range from $8 to $150 and drivers get a cut to deliver goods to places they were headed anyway.

Enter Waffle House, which has offered to be a meeting place for "roadies" at its more than 1,750 locations in 25 states. The restaurant chain will also give people a free waffle when they download the app and will provide a free drink to drivers when they're on a delivery, or "gig."

"I think they're looking at driving a lot of the folks within the sort of tech-enabled millennials and that community to their stores. Driving them in there to give them a free waffle and see what else they might enjoy," Gorlin said.

Watch out UPS, FedEx

Customers dine at the Waffle House which just partnered with delivery service Roadie.
Tami Chappell | Reuters
Customers dine at the Waffle House which just partnered with delivery service Roadie.

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Roadie, which touts itself as an efficient low-cost delivery service, aims to disrupt traditional delivery companies like UPS and FedEx. However, Gorlin also sees opportunity in what he calls "white space."

"You've got college kids that are at school and their parents need to send them something," he said. "You've got a distributorship around Atlanta that sends car parts to all the different dealerships at 6 a.m. ... but what happens after that if you bring your car?" he asked.

"There [are] all these instant needs that people have, and the quickest way to do it is if someone is going that way anyway," Gorlin added.

Right now, drivers are a little easier to acquire than people looking to deliver items, largely because it's a win-win for those behind the wheel, Gorlin said.

"There's just no reason not to. … You're literally getting paid for being a good neighbor," he noted. "You're going to get benefits at places like Waffle House and other places soon. You're going to get free roadside assistance and you are going to get write-off miles."

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For potential clients who might be concerned about security, Gorlin said there is a photographic chain of custody within the app, so senders can see what their goods look like throughout the trip. Roadie also offers $500 worth of insurance, five times what traditional carriers have, he said—and has a list of restricted items that its drivers won't take.

Roadie launched Jan. 27 with $10 million in funding. Its backers include the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, Eric Schmidt's TomorrowVentures, Warren Stephens of Stephens Inc., Guggenheim Partners' Alan Schwartz, Square co-founder Jim McKelvey, and the Mellon Group.

"We're fortunate to have a great list" of funders, Gorlin said.