“September was a real month,” 21 year old Aseem Ali announced with a sparkle in his eye. The young startup founder was basking in the recent success of his brainchild, a grocery-delivery program called Burpy.
Grocery shopping is one of the time-consuming necessities in our lives. Aseem and Burpy’s other four co-founders – all University of Texas students ranging in age from 19-22 – started their service for UT students who didn’t have transportation to get to and from the grocery store. The customer base of the young company has evolved, and Burpy now serves many Austin residential families as well. For busy moms, grocery shopping isn’t as much of a transportation issue as it is a time issue.
How Burpy Works
No matter who the customer is, the shopping process is the same:
- Register on Burpy.com with an email address, or a Facebook or Twitter account.
- Browse Burpy’s inventory from any of 11 local Austin grocery stores, including Whole Foods, Central Market, Trader Joe’s, H-E-B, Sam’s Club and many others.
- Add items to the shopping cart.
- OR, instead of browsing the site, upload a handwritten shopping list.
- Review and replace items that aren’t available.
You can choose to have your order delivered in one hour, three hours, or at a specific time. Deliveries are made between 8 AM and 10 PM every day.
Burpy earns income by charging a flat delivery fee ranging from $14.99 to $25.99, depending on which delivery schedule option you choose. The second source of revenue is a 10-15% markup on item prices. For Burpy customers, convenience outweighs slightly higher prices.
No Hiccups Here
Burpy CEO Aseem Ali comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His father immigrated from India in the 1980s to provide a better life and more opportunities for his family. When I asked Aseem how his parents felt about his business venture, he repeated his father’s words: “We brought you here to have an education, but it’s up to you how you want to use it. I applaud you in being an entrepreneur.”
Aseem is evidently grateful for the groundwork laid by his parents, and for their continuing support. Though he may be younger than many business owners in Austin, I was impressed and inspired by his professionalism and knowledge. And his motives. “Making a change is what drives me,” Aseem explained as he told a story about working with an elderly customer who wanted to place a grocery order over the phone. Another customer who left an impression was a mom placing an order for her sick daughter. “We’re changing the paradigm of grocery shopping,” concluded Aseem.
In the Burpy team’s opinion, past grocery delivery companies have failed for one of two reasons. Either they hired full-time drivers who ended up not working all the time, or they tried to house all of their inventory. Burpy is learning from the mistakes of other companies by using contract drivers who are only paid for the deliveries they do, and by not housing grocery inventory.
The company plans to expand to Houston in November. Other future plans include an iOS mobile app, currently in development, and a website redesign to make Burpy.com “more fun and interactive.”
The young minds behind one of Austin’s newest student startups represent the next generation of entrepreneurs in our city. They are enthusiastic, educated, and creative. It’s a great mix, and I look forward to following their progress.
Does a grocery delivery service sound handy to you? What do you think of Burpy’s model?
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