Uber for packages: Delaware’s DeliveryCircle will remain in state
When it came time to search for funding, Delaware-based DeliveryCircle faced a dilemma: Let investors on the West Coast move their operation across the country or find money that would enable the delivery service company to stay where it’s rooted.
“I personally always wanted to stay in Delaware,” said CEO and founder Vijaya Rao. “I had been pushing back.”
DeliveryCircle works in a similar way as tech transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, except it deals in packages instead of people. Drivers on the platform run the gamut from professional couriers, stay-at-home moms, seniors and part-time contractors.
The business that launched in February 2014 got the best of both worlds when it came to new financing. DeliveryCircle announced last week it had raised a “significant minority investment” from financial and strategic supply chain investors, led by Cambridge Capital, NFI and other strategic investors.
Now based at the Christiana Corporate Center after graduating from the incubator at New Castle County’s Emerging Enterprise Center, DeliveryCircle will continue its rapid expansion in the ever-growing delivery service space.
Rao said the strategic partnership is “not just somebody giving us a checkbook.” The supply chain investors, she said, will better position DeliveryCircle to continue to grow as “last mile delivery” from businesses to consumers becomes more critical, especially in same-day service, which DeliveryCircle now provides in 19 states and more than 5,000 zip codes.
For perspective, the startup opened service with five drivers and 20 zip codes. There are now more than 900 drivers – all are contractors – on the platform, Rao said.
The company has just eight employees but some funding will go toward hiring back office management and finance positions in Delaware, Rao said.
Staying in Delaware was more than just staying where the company has been rooted. The space between New York and D.C. has proved to be a good location so far.
“We have kind of saturated that belt,” Rao said. “Of course, there is still room to grow. For us it makes sense.”
The company has national aspirations, though.
Rao said the company has grown 300 percent year-over-year during the last three years.
DeliveryCircle’s software and mobile application enable clients to match package sizes with a pool of professional, safe drivers and a variety of vehicle types.
“It’s no longer a hypothesis of a model,” Rao said. “It’s very much a working model.”
Originally, Rao said DeliveryCircle focused on being a business-to-business company. But as activity in the retail space increased, the demand to adapt into a business-to-consumer model increased.
On its website, DeliveryCircle says it works with brands such as Zoe’s Kitchen, Honeybaked Ham, Philly Foodworks and other food companies. Rao said DeliveryCircle also has contracts signed with larger brands and retailers for delivery services.
Most of the small companies DeliveryCircle works with come from referrals, Rao said. The company has not spent any money on marketing.
Rao said money from last week’s Series A funding announcement will go to hiring more full-time employees, business development and the continued geographical growth.
Moving west, it appears, was inevitable anyway.
Contact reporter Jeff Neiburg at (302) 983-6772, email@example.com or on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.