Wesley McRae, co-founder of Entrusters, reached out to me after reading some of my posts on peer to peer delivery. So of course I hit him up for an interview about his company. Entrusters provides a sophisticated technical platform for crowdsourced delivery, currently focused in Argentina and Brazil. Argentina is high on my list of destinations to visit, and I learned that with Entrusters I can recover a chunk of my travel costs by delivering a few items when I pull together that trip.
Entrusters was founded six months ago in Buenos Aires by three expats living there. They have worked hard to understand the market and legal requirements in order to create a smooth process that is risk free and ensures trust by both the buyer and the traveler. And unlike some other crowdsourced delivery companies, Entrusters is aggressively recruiting travelers and trying to fill orders within a few weeks.
In Argentina Entrusters has grown quickly by word of mouth resulting in some niche product requests that were a bit surprising. Chefs from all over the country started putting in orders for cooking tools after one chef found the site and blogged about it. An aquarium builder wrote about his success with the site on a web forum and requests for aquarium products starting coming in. I talked with Wes about how the system works and what we can expect from Entrusters in the future.
ShareTraveler: Most of the deliveries listed on Entrusters.com are to Argentina, do you also have users in other parts of the world?
Wesley McRae: Yes, indeed we do. We launched with a focus on Argentina as the founding partners were living in Argentina at the time that we formed the company. We identified Argentina as a unique location to prove concept based on the notoriously difficult business environment with regards to protectionism as well as it being a launching pad into Brazil, where we see significant opportunity for our services. After proving concept in Argentina and then expanding into Brazil, we hope to look globally at other markets with similar characteristics. While our consumers are typically from developing countries, our travelers (the heart and soul of our service) are primarily from the U.S.
ST: Can people outside of the United States deliver items or is the market only for things that can be purchased cheaply within the U.S.?
Wes: Yes, the platform is designed so that travelers from all over the world can make deliveries. At the moment the majority of our travelers are from the U.S. but this is primarily due to the geographical nature of our business today. As you highlight, it is true that certain products are much cheaper in the U.S. than say the UK, but we still do have a handful of products each month that get delivered from Europe. As a platform, we are working to provide our users with the ability to get anything delivered from anywhere, using a network of truly global travelers.
ST: Entrusters takes the payment for the goods to be purchased as well as the delivery fee, acting as a middle person in the transaction. Can you tell me why you decided on this model?
Wes: Short answer – to safeguard the transaction as much as possible. As a platform, we have two customers to satisfy: the Trusted Travelers and the local buyers. We have designed our platform to include built-in safeguards to protect both of them. For many of our customers, the idea of buying something via a P2P delivery platform is a completely new idea, thus we spend a lot of time educating our customers and building their hard-earned trust in our service as well as in our travelers.
For the local buyer, they want to know that their money is protected and isn’t being sent across the world to a stranger who may (or may not) bring them their product at some point in the future. On the other side of the transaction, we have our travelers who want to be sure that the person they are buying and carrying the item for will reimburse them for the product and delivery fee. We have bridged this gap by creating a platform that protects both sides with ample safeguards.
ST: Are there any concerns from travelers about fronting the cost of purchase prior to delivery?
Wes: We have built our platform to keep the travelers protected throughout the transaction as well as the local buyers. While the travelers are fronting the cost of the purchase, they know that the amount to be reimbursed has already been provided to Entrusters to be released upon delivery. The travelers are of course compensated with the delivery fee for their efforts.
We designed the service this way so that the buyers know exactly what they are delivering. We think it is very important that the traveler purchase the item with their own funds and are therefore the owners of the item they are carrying. In our mind, it is important for the details of the order to be clear and transparent so that there is no confusion regarding model, color, etc. Also, if for whatever reason there is a mix up, the traveler needs to have the flexibility to be able to return the item to Amazon (or other online store) in order to directly receive a refund.
ST: I see you let the travelers decide how much to charge for a delivery. How much do people typically earn for their deliveries?
Wes: In general, accepted offers for phones usually earn the traveler $100 to $150. Laptops are about $200 to $250. A traveler delivered a stroller for $300. On the other side, travelers will deliver shoes and bulkier clothes for $30 to $50. Travelers can of course bid on smaller priced items, but travelers in general won’t bid on delivering an item for less than $10.
As you can imagine, there is potential to make significant cash by delivering a laptop and a phone or two. Our service has been a great way to lower travel costs for our travelers.
ST: What should we expect to see from Entrusters in 5 years?
Wes: We see ourselves as being a global platform. We see ourselves as being a community of global travelers who earn money and share culture by delivering items to local buyers throughout the world. For the local buyer, we want to be a global shopping service that provides users with the ability to get anything, from anywhere.