One evening last week I got home from work later than usual only to realize I had that I forgotten to pick up milk and dinner for my family. My wife didn’t love the idea of me turning right around and re-entering Atlanta traffic gridlock and not staying to help her get our three boys to bed. Rather than digging myself further in to the doghouse I turned to one of my favorite things, technology.
I used an app that a friend had told me about earlier in the week called Instacart. Instacart is a company that is based online, and has teams of “Personal Shoppers” that will go to local grocery stores (Atlantans have access to Whole Foods, Costco and Kroger so far) to purchase your groceries and bring them to your house. You pay for your order online with credit card, but they are also currently working to integrate Apple Pay which you know from last week I find exciting. From what they tell me there is no mark up on the food cost, but instead charge a small delivery fee, which for delivery in two hours is $3.99. That seems like a reasonable price to pay to have groceries delivered to your door.
Another aspect that I love about this company is what I learned from my very personable and punctual Personal Shopper who delivered to our house that night. This guy had been unemployed two years ago looking for work. Now, not only is he a Personal Shopper for Instacart, he is also an Uber driver. This new technology has actually empowered this man to hold two jobs. He can drive for uber during peak “ride times” and do shifts for Instacart earlier in the day – and he loves it. This is a wonderful example of the Uber Economy working in the favor of both the users and the workers.
The good news for all my northern OTP readers is that Instacart has expanded to your neck of the woods. As of last week they have opened up operations to cover the Atlanta suburbs and many locations north of I-20. Now they are in need of drivers as well, so if you are looking for something to do and have a car this could be a great fit for you. The Atlanta area is the 15th city that Instacart has moved into. They were born out of San Fransisco like many great startups.
What’s also interesting to me is that they have been funded by the very same venture capital investment group, Sequoia Capital, that invested in one of the most high profile tech busts – Webvan. Webvan launched in the late 1990s and had a similar concept. Unlike Webvan, though, they are clearly being careful to not put the cart before the horse. Webvan made the mistake of trying to build a very capital intensive system including purchasing vans and warehouses for groceries. Instacart is instead utilizing what is already available like local grocery stores and drivers with free time. While Webvan was a major flop, I foresee Instacart being an insta-success.
This is an especially handy tool for my family because as I’ve said before, with three growing boys, we’re constantly adding extra grocery shopping trips throughout the week. The ability to cut out having to pack up the family, head to the grocery store, march up and down the aisles and then check out gives us an enormous amount of freedom. Instead, now when we need to pick up a few extra things, we just log on to Instacart, “throw” what we need in the cart, and hit order and it’s brought straight to our door. No muss or fuss. On top of that, I love that this new technology is actually adding a whole new category of jobs and creating an entirely new workforce. You just might like having someone else sit in Atlanta traffic for you, and for $3.99 it’s well worth a try.