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Uber + Kozmo = Postmates (& they’re hiring bike couriers in Seattle)

IMG_0087When I woke Tuesday morning, my partner Kelli had a piece of birthday cake waiting for me. But three days later, when her birthday rolled around, all I had for her was a cup of coffee and shoddily-assembled egg sandwich. My veggie side-dish was lackluster, and the cherries weren’t ripe (ok, I guess it could have been worse).

Enter: The best-timed press contact email ever, from Ayako Igari at Postmates. I met Ayako when she was working promotions for a recent Via6 bike breakfast. Now she’s working at Postmates, and wanted me to give it a try and maybe let folks know that they are hiring bike couriers.

So I downloaded the app and pulled up the list of nearby businesses available for orders (it’s a lot). The first one to catch my eye was High 5 Pie. Perfect! I ordered a Lemon Blueberry.

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IMG_0088The app brings up a map and this icon spins as it tries to pair you with a courier. Similar to how the car-sharing service Uber works, the app searched to match me with a courier near High 5 Pie. Turns out, James was gonna bring it (thanks, James!). It also tracked his progress getting it to me in case I’m too impatient to wait up to an hour for the pie I just ordered on my freaking phone.

Within a couple minutes, someone in San Francisco called to tell me the bad news: They didn’t have Lemon Blueberry. But then she listed the flavors they did have. I picked the Marionberry.

IMG_0089Within an hour, James was knocking at my door with a Marionberry pie from a local company. You pay entirely through the app using a credit card on file, so no cash changes hand (James told me they can’t even take cash tips). Just click confirm on James’ phone, sign and that’s it. Birthday saved!

Not every courier for Postmates rides a bike, unfortunately. But Ayako said specifically that they are looking for people to deliver by bike right now.

Many of you may remember the popular but unfortunately short-lived bike delivery service Kozmo in the 90s. Geek Wire spoke with Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann back when the service launched in Seattle in March, and Lehmann seems to have heeded the lessons of Kozmo (which, by the way, played an unintentional role in the birth of modern bike polo right here in Seattle).

The biggest difference is that Postmate does not have its own warehouse of things in stock. Instead, the service looks to document what is available in nearby stores, both big and small (what Lehmann calls “the inventory of a city”). And, as I learned, if the business is out of that particular item when you order, they have a customer service mechanism ready to work it out over the phone.

Delivery isn’t free (though, full disclosure, I did use the free delivery promo Ayako sent me, which saved $6.50). Cost of delivery varies based several factors, including the estimated time the courier will need to make the delivery.

The app is sharp and easy-to-use. I also love that I can order from small businesses in a town where Amazon’s same-day delivery seems to really be catching on.

Ideas for Postmates: Partner with Bicycle Benefits to offer their discounts when your couriers pick up on bike. Also, would it break the system if I could choose my courier’s transportation mode? I’d pay extra for someone on a bike if I needed to…

UPDATE: Here are some details about being a courier, from Postmates:

Some Details:
Join Postmates and make $12+/hour delivering food and merchandise to local customers in Seattle!

All Postmates couriers are independent contractors and are paid per job, plus tips. Average compensation is $12-14/hour. Hours of operation in Seattle are 8:00am-midnight, 7 days a week.

The best part is that you can set your own schedule and decide how many hours you’d like to work each week!

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8 responses to “Uber + Kozmo = Postmates (& they’re hiring bike couriers in Seattle)”

  1. No traffic lights

    This is a very strange post.

    1. Name Withheld by request

      No, this is an advertisement for both a service, and a job announcement for a company. For a lousy $6.50 they got a pretty good/focused readership.

      Ultimately Kosmo failed because most people don’t want to pay $6.50 to have a freakin pie delivered when they can drive/walk to the grocery/speciality store and pick one up. That’s not to say these services shouldn’t exist for the sick/lame/ill/rich but it’s pretty tough to have a large business based on this. More like the courier business which is dying due to email is looking for something/anything they can do to keep delivering stuff….

      1. Hi Name Withheld,

        Why don’t you try us out? If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I would pay someone $XX to do this for me right now!” then we’re your solution. If you haven’t, then you haven’t. It’s ok, our service isn’t for everyone and I understand if you’d rather go do it yourself.

        I actually contacted Tom because we are looking to hire more couriers. Would you be interested? I thought he would be a great resource for those looking for a part time gig. In this age where email gets a lot done, I thought it was worth it to ping him to let him know we’re hiring. We didn’t pay him. I’m sure he charges way more than $6.50!

        I would also say that we’re actually trying to increase the courier business. We are a courier service at our core. It’s also an on-demand service which creates dynamic pricing. We’re not forcing anyone to use us, but we do hope to make your life more efficient. We want to be here for the time you need us.

        Please email me. [email protected]. As your Community Manager, I would love to extend the same Seattle love I extended to Tom. Have a great rest of your day!

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      It’s not an advertisement. Geez, my rates are a little higher than $6.50.

      I know I don’t usually do product or service reviews here, but I was in a good mood and I thought it was really cool that there was a business hiring people to deliver local (and not local) stuff by bike. It’s an interesting business model worthy of a mention. I also critiqued it to say I wish there were a way to make it more bikey.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        That said, I’ve thought about creating some paid way to list bike jobs. Right now, the only way would be to create a display ad with a link to your job details. Bike Portland has a more functional system: http://bikeportland.org/jobs

      2. Gary

        How about a way to have paid product promotions as well? You have the targeted readership. I’m thinking GPS, heart monitors, bicycle reviews etc. As long as they are all in a sub group of product reviews/announcements.

  2. Let us know when you decide, Tom. It would be perfect for us since we’re looking for Seattle-area couriers. Your readership would make ideal candidates!


  3. prospective

    Interesting. I’m researching postmates and stumbled upon this. Tell me: Is bike messaging for postmates a legit flexible job? Point blank: how much do you make per delivery?

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