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from people who appreciate an eco-friendly service. But, let’s not forget: bikes are fast. This past April, The Pitch, Kansas City’s alternative weekly paper, rated three different methods for the on-demand delivery of a sixpack of beer: a guy with an ad on Craigslist; Zaarly 2.0, a do-it-yourself e-commerce platform; and Cowtown. The guy from Craigslist never showed. Zaarly took 56 minutes. Cowtown got it done in 18 minutes.

Nowhere is time-sensitivity more critical than with food delivery. A cold burger just isn’t the same. After Blake Young left the messenger service he worked for in 2011, he and Arturo Rodarte founded Snap Courier, a service that works with restaurants in Chicago. “I wanted to have consistent business and make a higher dollar amount per run. Rather than do point-to-point [where we would pick up deliveries at random locations] and have 30 individual people who call in 30 times, I’d like to have clients like restaurants who will call us 30 times a day, and then maybe get 30 of those clients.” 

They may get there. Snap now has nine clients at 13 locations and has met their growth goals each month since launching in January of this year. Trey Elder, Manager of Jerry’s Sandwiches, says the restaurant switched from delivering by car to bike because so many customers had asked: “What are you guys doing to be green?” But aside from that, Elder says working with Snap is “far cheaper” than hiring in-house delivery staff, because the customer pays the $5 delivery charge directly, and Jerry’s doesn’t have to contribute shift pay or an hourly rate. It works out for the rider as well, since they work for multiple restaurants each shift.


About two months after my visit to Minneapolis, I caught up with Ben James to see how things had been progressing with Rock-It Delivery. He said their always-on-call structure will stay, but they’ve hired four new riders to help make it more manageable. He expects business to reach “frenzy status” once the harsh Minnesota winter takes hold and more customers lose their appetite for the outdoors. 

They’ve been featured in the local press as an innovative new business, which James says has helped spawn the creation of several new accounts. The work has even circled back to delivering documents in Downtown Minneapolis—the very type of work the company’s four owner-riders had done for conventional messenger services before leaving to start Rock-It. “The only difference is we’re playing for keeps now and the money’s going back in our pockets,”
he said.