This Startup Wants to Turn Ubers into Convenience Stores

Jan 25, 2018

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A company that aims to make more out of your Uber experience has raised $5.5 million to do just that. Cargo, a New York based startup, has a mission to outfit every Uber or Lyft with an in-car vending machine.

“Cargo is essentially an in-car commerce platform,” said its CEO Jeff Cripe to Forbes. “It’s arm’s length convenience.”

Cargo equips Uber vehicles with a box that contains snacks, medicine and more. So if riders are hungry or have a headache and want to pop an Advil, they don’t have to wait until they finish their ride but can quickly purchase the item from Cargo.

Passengers simply input the box’s ID code on Cargo.menu, select their item and then pay on their phones. Cargo offers a variety of items, but a typical box would include items like chips, candy, gum, granola bars, phone chargers and medicine.

Cargo got started last year turning taxis into convenience stores. The company says they have 2,500 equipped drivers with another 20,000 who’ve signed up for the program. Right now, taxis with Cargo installed are only available in Boston, Chicago, New York City and Minneapolis.

Drivers get paid a 25% commission on every item they sell plus $1. Cargo claims that drivers make an average of $150 a month with top earners taking up to $300 home on a monthly basis. Riders also have the option of tipping their drivers through the Cargo website, a feature that’s already available in the Uber and Lyft apps.

Cargo tracks what items are being bought and automatically ships out refills once a driver’s stock is low.

Image courtesy of Cargo.
Image courtesy of Cargo.

And if you’re not in the mood to spend more money during your ride, Cargo usually offers free samples to riders. Since riders are a pretty captive audience once they’re in the car, Cargo’s convinced companies to provide free products as way to get their name out there. Cargo drivers get commission for distributing free samples, too.

Cargo says it has an established relationship with Lyft and Uber, which have both condoned their cars being turned into hybrid stores. It’s raised a total of $7.3 million since its founding and plans on opening in one new city each month for the next six months, and being in 20,000 cars by the end of the year.

Featured image courtesy of Cargo.

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