A Q&A with Kanga co-founder and president Everett Steele. The Atlanta-based crowdsourced local delivery platform announced the closing of a $1 million Seed funding round in late February from co-founder Scott Miller. The company is readying for its initial launch in the Atlanta metro market. It was founded last year by Steele and Miller.
SUB: Please describe Kanga and your primary innovation.
Steele: Kanga puts shipping and delivery options into the hands of the consumer, giving you full ownership and confidence during the entire process of moving stuff from point A-to-B. Through a smartphone app you can find someone to ship your stuff locally, agree on a price and then track the package along the way. The stuff you choose to ship could be anything from a Craigslist purchase, to something at a local retailer, or even an art festival. Our app will also put carriers and drivers to work by allowing them the flexibility to pick up jobs and earn extra money by being a Kanga carrier. We hope to be a real reliable alternative to what’s currently out there—old-school shippers, the postal service, and overpriced couriers—and put the power of shipping and delivery into the hands of those who need it most. Kanga also benefits local and independent retailers who are looking for a competitive edge over Internet retail giants by offering an affordable professional delivery service.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Steele: Since our platform is crowdsourced, we really have two distinct sets of users: Folks who want their stuff shipped and the carriers that will get the job done. We’ve chosen to launch in Atlanta, our hometown, since we know the marketplace and retailers and organizations that will be great to work with. We’ll be building our network of shippers and drivers as well, expanding throughout the Southeast before eventually offering services on a national level.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition, and what differentiates Kanga from the competition?
Steele: There are lots of ways for people to get their stuff shipped, whether you’re using a big service like FedEx or UPS, or a courier service. However, these big players require specific drop-off locations, have expensive fees and can’t begin to touch local same-day delivery. Couriers are a lot more flexible but their fees are exorbitant and they can’t tackle every type of delivery.
From the crowdsourced delivery category there are some players out there like zipments, Deliv and Shutl. None of these folks have made their way to the Atlanta market yet.
Kanga stands out from traditional delivery services by being affordable, flexible and highly local. If you want something delivered from the local art festival so you can avoid carrying it home on your bike, or back, we can do that. If you simply want to grab a gift item from the local boutique, we can do that too.
Steele: It was definitely a case of the right money at the right time for us. We’ve had such great support from the Atlanta startup community. To a certain extent we are self-funded as our Seed funding came from co-founder Scott Miller, whose startup PayLeap was acquired a few years ago. So yeah, he’s pretty invested.
SUB: How do you plan to use the funds?
Steele: We’ll use this Seed money to finish out the mobile app features and to support the platform’s rollout late next month.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Kanga? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Steele: The idea for Kanga was born of necessity. Co-founder Scott Miller was at an Ikea, buying bunk beds for his kids, when he realized that they wouldn’t fit in his car. He realized that there were likely many people at the same store who could easily load up the beds and run them by his house, but he had no way of connecting with them. He realized there was a huge demand for a service like this, and from that realization the concept was born.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Steele: Through connections in Atlanta, Scott linked up with me, and immediately dove into building out the concept and creating a team of experienced developers, technology experts, designers, and startup experts. Within a few weeks Kanga was up-and-running and poised for launch after a very fast-paced eight month build-up.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Steele: We spent a lot of time thinking about the look, feel and personality of the brand. Through help from our friends at Matchstic, we developed a list of probably 30 names and concepts, and from there began whittling it down to what we needed. We love the name Kanga; to us it reflects the personality of our team, and our vision for the company. And of course we love our awesome mascot ‘Hank,’ named in honor of our hero, Atlanta legend Hank Aaron.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Steele: We’re in a good place right now, but as we look to expand outside the Southeast we’ll likely be looking for additional funding to help make that growth happen. But for now, we’re really focused on a successful launch in Atlanta.
SUB: What have the most significant challenges been so far to building the company?
Steele: Probably finding the balance between building consumer awareness for our shippers and educating local retailers while planning how to simultaneously create a network of carriers who want to work for Kanga. The good news is, we already have a city that is open to crowdsourced services—like Lyft and Uber—and we can tap in to this network of drivers to help us bring Kanga to life.
SUB: How do you generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Steele: Our primary revenue will be driven by the delivery fees set by our carriers. For each delivery that we help facilitate, we take a small service fee. Down the road, we may expand our offerings to include premium subscription services, value-added services, and perhaps even promotional placements for local businesses.
SUB: What are your goals for Kanga over the next year or so?
Steele: Well, we really want to become a household name in the Atlanta market. This is where we’ll feel out exactly how the supply and demand will work between shippers and carriers. We definitely want to build a real community of shippers who love working for Kanga and making deliveries on their own terms. The same goes for the local retail community. It stands to be a great differentiator for independent retailers to be able to offer same-day delivery to their customers, and we think we can definitely meet that need. What we learn here in our hometown will set the scene for our eventual expansion. We’ve got some potential partnerships in the works that will make our eventual growth into other markets hopefully go quickly; but for now we’re focused on building the platform to ensure our shippers and carriers have a seamless experience.