than forty or so deliveries a day, which could have been easily filled by six people per shift.”
The dot-com boom that Kozmo was part of was just the beginning of an ongoing move away from brick-and-mortar storefronts and toward the still-rising power of online commerce. In 2012, consumers are more accustomed than ever to staying at home or in their offices and awaiting the arrival of their lunch, bottle of wine, book or laptop computer. At the same time, appetites for sustainable transportation and locally-sourced products are at an all-time high. It adds up to a lot of potential.
So how will the bike delivery industry seize on that potential and get it right?
Burrowed in the lore of the bike messenger is the notion that the packages they deliver are, by definition, time-sensitive in nature. Why else would these guys rip around the city like maniacs? But it’s not always so, especially in the bruised and battered parcel delivery sector of the industry. I worked as a bike messenger in New York City in 2008 and 2009, and saw a noticeable drop in the number of runs I was dispatched following the financial collapse in September of 2008 and the economic turmoil that soon spread across the city, the country and the world. But even before that, I sometimes kept packages in my bag for as long as a couple hours
Cowtown Couriers was started in January 2012 in Kansas City, MO. The city had no bicycle delivery businesses at the time Cowtown was founded, so 23 year old Rudy Gonzales took it upon himself to start doing research on the industry and registered the new business as a limited liability corporation. Initially, it was just a one-man operation, but Gonzales now has a business partner and is expanding to include more riders to enable them to do more business over a wider part of the city. We caught up with Rudy at the Cycle Messenger World Championships this August in Chicago to find out what he’s been
Did you have any experience delivering stuff by bike or any other means before starting the company?
I hadn’t done other courier work prior to starting the company, but I had experience riding and carrying various loads on my own. I don’t have a car, so being able to do all my errands by bike is essential to living car-free.
What kind of stuff do you guys normally deliver, and for what types of clients?
We normally deliver food and basic grocery items like produce, sundries, or drinks. Our main clients are residents, but I hope to expand our business clientele soon to include more restaurants.
How do social media and mobile phone apps factor into your business model?
I’ve used Twitter to post updates about delivery, find people in need of delivery, and to respond to client feedback. I also use Instagram to show things like deliveries that we make, food from our restaurant clients, and to keep in touch with other couriers. Having a good social media presence is important to staying relevant and “in the know” with our clients. I’m looking into developing an app to help streamline our service with our clients and make ordering even easier.
Can you say a couple things about where you see the company going in the future?
I see us growing to the point where we are a vital service to the citizens of Kansas City, MO and make living here even nicer than it already is. I want people to see how progressive we can be as a Midwest city.