Crowdsourced delivery is a concept rapidly growing in popularity. Social shipping companies connect travelers with people who need stuff delivered. Travelers can make some money, and recipients can save some money. There have been a lot of new entrants into this business space in the past few years. Most recently, onPony launched earlier this year. I had the chance to interview Nivi Jasa, CEO and Founder of onPony.
ShareTraveler: When was the onPony beta release officially launched?
Nivi: onPony was released on the beginning of March 2017, gaining in the first 4 months almost 500 users and generating more than 250 trips.
ST: What inspired you to create a crowdsourced delivery company?
Nivi: It all started when I was in Istanbul where I moved from Milan during the November 2013. I was working as a graphic designer and filmmaker. One day I had to remove a wisdom tooth and I was desperately looking for a homeopathic medicine. But unfortunately I couldn’t find it. So I decided to get in touch with some friends from Milan and ask them if they were planning to come to Istanbul or, if they knew someone coming, in order to bring the medicine. I didn’t even try to deliver it from Italy since the costs for the delivery was higher than the price of the product. But again, unfortunately, no one was planning to come to Istanbul. Then I thought that “if I could get in touch with all these people that are traveling nowadays, I could immediately solve this problem”. This was the beginning of onPony!
ST: I know of 77 social shipping companies. All but a few launched in the past 5 years. Some are focused on a single route (i.e. U.S. to China) and a few are only for deliveries within a country, but most are offering global deliveries. What will distinguish onPony from the rest of these startups?
Nivi: A strong and reliable community. Each user, by connecting Facebook, LinkedIn, PayPal, Airbnb and BlaBlaCar, can share their previous feedback and the way they behaved. This can really help the other users whether to trust or not. If we think about it, 10 years ago giving your apartment keys or picking up a stranger in your car for a few pounds would have been something unthinkable. But now, this is a successful business model, with millions of users doing it every day.
ST: How do you plan to build critical mass so that you have enough travelers and people needing deliveries so that people can find matches?
Nivi: We decided to focus on the students & erasmus, a market with potentially 20M users in the EU alone! We are now developing different strategies but we would prefer to wait a bit before sharing them.
ST: Can you tell me a bit more about your strategy for getting students signed up?
Nivi: Basically by partnering with Universities and creating a network of Brand Ambassadors with the students.
ST: You’ve done a lot of advance work to set up a system that helps users feel secure with the transactions. Why did you decide this was an important area to implement for the beta release?
Nivi: Because all these services work on the basis of trust! A trust that we built thanks to our feedback and ratings, basically our online reputation. OnPony is replicating this successful model into a new market: deliveries. This is something lots of people are already doing informally. People are already delivering things asking the friend of a friend or using Facebook’s groups. Instead, we are providing a more safer and reliable solution, facilitating the match between the two users.
ST: Have you received any funding for this business?
Nivi: Yes, so far we raised €160k and soon we are going to announce a new round.
ST: Where do you hope to see onPony in two years?
Nivi: As the new big thing in the sharing economy. We want to follow BlaBlaCar’s and Airbnb’s path. All these services in the sharing economy have become essential and everyday for us, to live more economically and sustainably. And people are ready for a new way of delivering. The world is ready for onPony, your online pony express.
ST: What else do you want to tell me about?
Nivi: We are going to release the app for iOs and Android in September. Currently we are also expanding our team and getting ready to expand our market.