Buddytruk is the latest peer-to-peer vehicle service to hit the streets of LA. Like Lyft and Uber, the service is utilized through the use of a smartphone app to request a driver to aid you in your quests. Unlike the two ride-sharing services, Buddytruk isn’t a ride-sharing service. While Lift and Uber allow people to request a pickup and ride from screen tested drivers to transport them and their friends safely to and from their destinations, Buddytruk fills a void that the ride-sharing services are sorely lacking, hauling of items.
As many city dwellers know, moving large pieces of furniture around a city with a limited capacity vehicle is very much a hassle, especially around the holidays. How is an owner of a compact car that’s decided to buy their special someone a new flat screen TV for the living room supposed to get it home without a friend to get the SO out of the house while at the same time, hoping another friend of virtue, (with a larger vehicle), will take time out of their day to help load, unload and transport the gift into the house? Until now, the only way we could think of was to spend the extra cash renting a U-Haul truck or van. Luckily, that’s all in the past now.
The solution is now as simple as ordering a meal from GrubHub. Simply open the Buddytruk app, take a picture of what you need to transport and wait for a driver with an appropriate vehicle to accept the cargo and wait for the pickup. Buddytruk even has the issue of unloading solved as the drivers are contracted to help customers both load and unload their hauls.
Since we’re so excited about the service provided by Buddytruk and the fact that it is such a terrific solution to an all too common problem, we opted to ask them a few questions about the company and a find out a little more about what they offer. Adam Jacobs, one of Buddytruk’s founding members, was kind enough to take some time and answer those questions for us and our readers.
TZ: How long has Buddytruk been active?
AJ: Buddytruk has been active and accepting pickups in Los Angeles since August 1, 2014. We began working on the project in November of 2013.
TZ: What was the development schedule from idea to picking up your first haul?
AJ: Back in November, Brian and Russell laid down the foundation for Buddytruk (after Brian had a bit of fender-bender in a U-Haul, which was the inspiration for Buddytruk. I was brought on around that time to help with the marketing efforts (to which has now become me managing the day-to-day operations), but we started strategizing around November and December exactly what we wanted the Buddytruk app to do, how it should work, and how it should look.
Not having technical backgrounds ourselves, we were fortunate to have friends develop the app in exchange for equity. Between November and August 1st, we nailed down our insurance (which had never been done before in our industry – we’re the first of our kind), began recruiting drivers, and spending our time on college campuses speaking to students and small business owners discussing how Buddytruk can help them.
After we had our app completed, our initial batch of drivers recruited, insurance in place, and a solid operational foundation set, we were able to open our doors for business on August 1, 2014.
TZ: How many drivers do you currently have in operation?
AJ: We currently have 20 active drivers and are currently in the process of bringing on more.
TZ: How many trips are you averaging a day so far?
AJ: For our first 2 weeks of business, we only had 2 requests. This was somewhat concerning, but as the college move-ins and move-outs started to pick up, we began getting 3-5 requests a day, which is what we average daily even after the college move-out season ended.
We actually just had our busiest weekend yet from December 5-7, as we have a partnership with Whole Foods in Santa Monica to deliver their Christmas trees for free. We moved over 30 Christmas trees in just over 48 hours. We’re currently working on partnerships with some companies in the area to assist them with their delivery needs and customer pick-ups as well.
TZ: What is the percentage Buddytruk takes from the fares?
AJ: We currently have an 80/20 split, where the driver takes home 80% of the fare and 100% of their tip.
TZ: Is there a size limit of hauled items?
AJ: When you get connected with a Buddytruk driver, you get the help of that driver and their truck. This means we are able to move anything that either the driver can move, or the driver and the user can move. In the future, we are hoping to implement a feature to request multiple drivers.
TZ: What types of vehicles are your drivers currently using? (Pickup trucks, SUV’s, Box trucks)
AJ: Our drivers can use their personal pick-up trucks, SUVs, or vans – basically anything non-commercial.
TZ: As drivers are encouraged to help load and unload their cargo, what coverage to they have in event of an injury from improper lifting?
AJ: Buddytruk drivers are classified as independent contractors. When they become a driver, they sign off on a contract that waives coverage of injury from improper lifting. Any and all coverage will be the responsibility of the drivers themselves and their own personal insurance. In the future, medical may be covered by Buddytruk, but as of now it would be under their personal insurance.
TZ: Could a Buddytruk customer potentially use your product as a delivery service for things such as Craigslist sales or giving items to friends?
AJ: Absolutely! Buddytruk gets used all the time to help pickup Craigslist purchases or items from Target or big box stores that don’t just fit in the user’s car. Many users make the request and let us pick the item up from the seller or store, and then they just drop it off for the user at their home. It’s extremely convenient for the user.
TZ: If a user requests a Buddytruk to move a box, must they disclose the contents of the package?
AJ: After getting to the pick-up location, but before handling any items, our drivers go through a cargo checklist with the user. This is where they go over the items they are moving and mark down the condition that the items are in. If, for whatever reason, the driver is uncomfortable moving a particular item, we ask that they contact us immediately.
TZ: You state on your blog that “we know how difficult it can be moving from apartment to apartment or lugging that giant electronic back home without a car”, but you state in your FAQ that you only support moving one or two items, is there a plan in place to eventually provide service for a full move?
AJ: We can currently help folks who need to move several items from home to home, but we just let them know it will be several trips and that they will likely need to lend a hand. More often than not, Buddytruk requests come from users looking to move a Craigslist item or a new piece of furniture into their new place, but we’ve certainly done a fair share of larger moves as well involving beds, dressers, couches, and TV stands.
In the future, we definitely plan on a user being able to request multiple drivers to help with a full move.
TZ: What’s the process on multiple trips if someone has more than 2 items?
AJ: Many moves can be done in one trip, but if it requires more than one trip, the driver will simply drive back to pick up the other item and then return to the drop-off location. The app keeps track of time and mileage for all of the moves, so multiple trips are kept track of.
TZ: The coverage area at this time is limited, does that relate to pick up and drop off as well? (Is this due to the insurance policy, lack of customer base or just on ensuring timely pickup and delivery?)
AJ: Right now, the coverage area is limited because we wanted to make sure that we had timely pickup and delivery in the area. Most of our drivers live from downtown to Santa Monica, but we do plan on expanding into the Valley and South Bay shortly.
TZ: Can a driver chose to deliver or even pickup outside of the mapped coverage area?
AJ: Currently, the app does not allow a user to choose a pick-up location outside of our zone of coverage, or more than 50 miles from the pick-up location. We are definitely planning on expanding our borders to help everyone in the Los Angeles area shortly, though.
TZ: Your FAQ states that Buddytruk’s insurance policy only covers the transport of items and not riders. It seems probable that if someone requires the service of a Buddytruk driver (doesn’t have a car), they would likely need a ride to the intended destination as well. What is your approach to this?
AJ: The Buddytruk service currently has liability and cargo insurance, but the Buddytruk service doesn’t cover users getting rides in drivers’ vehicles – like what Lyft and Uber have for their passengers. Right after the driver accepts the transaction, they call the user to introduce themselves, explain the service, confirm the cargo, and make sure that the user has a ride from the pick-up location to the drop-off location. If they don’t, we recommend the user use an Uber or Lyft to the drop-off location. If the driver is comfortable with letting a passenger in their vehicle, they can, but it’s not something that is covered by the Buddytruk service. We are currently looking into ways that our insurance could cover passengers.
TZ: As there are more Androids in the wild than iPhones, it seems that your user base could be much wider, especially in the Tech sector. What is the timeline for releasing an android version?
AJ: We are planning on having our Android app released by early 2015.
Alright. So we got some clarification on a few things that we were curious about. One, if you don’t have a ride of your own, you’re going to need to use another service to transport yourself. Of course, the driver can opt to take you on as a passenger, but that’s solely at their discretion, no guarantees. Secondly, if you happen to live in the valley or NE-LA, Buddytruk isn’t going to be your best option… yet. They have plans for expansion and we believe that they will be able to provide coverage to the greater LA area very soon. That likely depends on them increasing the number of drivers they have available, so those of you needing some extra mullah on the side may want to think about applying. Outside of that, Buddytruk appears to be a goose with the golden eggs. We wish them well.