The University has recently seen a rise in the number of delivery services marketed to students, including ontheway, Princeton Octopus and Delivia.
Delivia is an app that was developedto create a crowdsourced system in which students on campus can be both deliverers and customers, according to Max Shatkhin ’15, who created the app with Juan Albanell ’15.
The app started as a class project idea last semester for ELE 381: Networks: Friends, Money and Bytes, Albanell said, andwas launched on March 22.
Albanell explained thatit is inefficient for a person go to a store and go back to his or her room without knowing that, perhaps, someone living two doors down also wanted something from that store.
“We had a lot of friends who either were in Forbes or just in their rooms, and they were stuck and would say, ‘I would pay someone to deliver to me right now,’ ” Shatkhin said.
With Delivia, people can input orders into an order feed, and people en route can get paid to deliver, Shatkinsaid. He added that users are also notified when someone is heading to a particular store, so students are then more willing to order something.
“People live pretty close to each other and there are certain hubs of stores — for example on Nassau Street — if someone is going that way and coming back to Princeton, it’s very beneficial for them to just grab something and drop it off somewhere on campus,” Albanell said.
As of the first week of April, there are 250 users and 20 daily active users, according to Albanell, adding thatthey have been receiving a constant flow of orders as well.
While other popular delivery services hire carriers, Delivia works on the belief that people are willing to bring items back with them from a grocery trip and get paid that way, Albanell said.
The chat function in the app allows the deliverer to arrange a meeting place with the customer, and payments can be done either through the app or through other apps like Venmo, Albanell explained.
Users can put how much they are willing to pay for a particular item they want and can set their own delivery fee, instead of a fixed price, Shatkhin said, adding that the carrier picks up the items within the price range set by the user and is then reimbursed for the items plus the delivery fee.
“We want to create a community around a campus of people helping each other out, not just people delivering things as their job,” Albanell said.
Another delivery service app Ontheway, which was launched last Sunday, is the result of efforts from Victor Zhou ’18, Jason Jiang ’18, Nathan Lam ’17 and Murad Mahmudov ’17.
In the app, people can input “paths” that show where they are going.
The students started working on the app three weeks before spring break and it currently has about 300 downloads and 150 users, mostly from Princeton, according toZhou.
The payment system is completely built into the app, Zhou said, which differentiates it from Delivia.
“People are always going places,” Zhou said. “There are people walking all over campus, and we just wanted to tap into that movement that was already there. We figured we could make a lot of people’s lives a lot more convenient.”
Zhou said the ontheway developers hadn’t heard of Delivia before launching their own product.
“The primary difference between Delivia and our app is that Delivia — it’s really simple — you find someone who wants something, you find someone who’s around that area and they deliver to you,” Lam said. “What we found was that in order to make it reasonably worthwhile for the person to make the delivery, we would find multiple people on the way.”
Ontheway links people to multiple locations, which is a feature that differentiates it from the others, according to Lam.
Representatives of Princeton Octopus did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The trend in delivery services on campus started earlier this year, and many of the services launched around the same time.
“Honestly, I think the fact that all the delivery services have come out at the same time is weird,” Shatkhin said. “I think that the success of companies like Airbnb and Uber that act like crowdsourcing marketplaces have brought people’s attention to this kind of business model.”
The trend may not stay necessarily localized on campus, but might spread to big cities, he said. For example, he noted thatInstaCart, a grocery delivery service, has taken over huge cities.
“There are a lot of people who are unemployed, and this is a very easy way to get employed and to make money on the side,” Albanell said. “I’m sure we’ll keep seeing this.”
Lam also said that the existence of several peer delivery services on campus fosters competition and demonstrates that there is interest in the area.
“If three teams came up with the same idea and built the same product in the same general amount of time, odds are that outside of Princeton there are other teams doing that,” Lam said.