How I Turned My Bicycle Into a $4.6 Million Business
Phil Dumontet started Dashed, a Boston-based food-delivery service, with nothing more than two wheels and a plastic food container. Today, the 26-year-old CEO has rolled out his service to five cities and more than 500 restaurants, including chains such as P.F. Chang's and Pinkberry. Making that many deliveries--all in about 45 minutes each--requires smart logistics and a whole lot of pedaling. Entrepreneur Phil Dumontet told his story to Inc. senior writer Burt Helm.
I started the delivery service on my Trek mountain bike in 2009. I outfitted it with an insulated Rubbermaid container and started making deliveries for an Italian place called Maurizio's. I had just graduated from Boston College, with a marketing and philosophy degree, and I was in the best shape of my life.
There were already a couple of delivery services in Boston. But the largest one, which employed about 60 drivers, had just folded. I thought there was such an opportunity. The demand was there, but the company had gotten a lot of complaints about bad service and deliveries taking 90 minutes or more. I thought, It's not rocket science. You want to get the food there as quickly as possible.
Before graduation, I'd signed a contract to work for AT&T in sales. I broke the contract. The recruiter wasn't happy. She said, "You want to start your own business, when AT&T has been around for over 100 years?" And I'm like, Absolutely!
I called it Dashed because we focus on speed. Delivery times are all I think about. We average 45 minutes.
When you place a food order online or over the phone, it gets sent to our dispatch routing system in Boston. Then, one of our dispatchers arranges the pickup. Restaurants pay us a portion of orders we deliver, typically about 30 percent.
Over time, I expanded to Providence; Philadelphia; Hoboken, New Jersey; and Baltimore. In New York City, every place has its own delivery staff. But that's not the case in those cities. Most restaurants don't want the headache. I approach these guys and say, "Look, just think of us as your best takeout customer." Some restaurants have seen a 10 to 16 percent increase in sales.
This year, I'm expanding to Connecticut. There's strong demand from colleges, and a lot of restaurants don't deliver. Setting up in a new city is straightforward: I pay salespeople to go in and sign up restaurants, and once we get to about 50 of them, we flip the switch.
Today, about 25 percent of my delivery guys are on bikes and scooters--the rest are in cars. Nobody else is investing in bikes and scooters the way we are. They are faster and more nimble, and you can park them anywhere. That's a big advantage when you're trying to get the food there as fast as you can.