(Editor’s note: Dispatches Europe tracks the tech scene – startups, scale-ups and mature companies – across Europe because so many of our highly skilled internationals are entrepreneurs, computer scientists, coders and web developers. This post on Luggage Pool is part of our Tuesday Tech series.)
In the startup world, the key metric for success is coming up with a solution to a problem that’s really a problem. If you’ve ever needed a vehicle for a short move or a big Ikea pickup, you know what a pain it can be finding help. Palash Agrawal and his Luggage Pool startup team are giving expats (and everyone else) an alternative to conventional logistic companies that basically don’t want to mess with jobs that are too small.
It’s a common expat dilemma … you need to move house or you need to transport large appliances or furniture and you don’t have truck or trailer. Hiring a mover can be expensive and a little bit of overkill for small projects. So, you go to your expat Facebook community and you post asking if anyone has a van or truck and wants to earn a little cash. That doesn’t always work, and if it does, shocker – the price is painful because they know you’re desperate.
Well, Palash Agrawal and his team at Luggage Pool have built a platform connecting clients on the move to people with vans and trucks who want to generate income with them – what Palash calls “the Uber for delivery vans.” And like the original Uber, this could be a fast-breakout concept.
In the startup world, one of the most important concepts is “deliverables” – a new company has to deliver tangible results as they get their product to market. It’s a bad pun, but Luggage Pool has delivered quickly so far.
Since Palash and his wife Anastasiia founded the startup in February 2020, Stuttgart, Germany-based Luggage Pool has hit a number of milestones including:
• 15,000 users on the platform, with consistent growth
• a network of 3,000-plus drivers and handymen across Germany, Netherlands and Austria
• a team that has grown to 14 employees
Luggage Pool just launched its new app on 18 November, available for download on Google Play Store. Users can book a driver with a van or a truck, or a complete moving service within a few clicks, Palash said.
So far, LP is definitely expat-oriented.
“Right now, like 99 percent of our audience is expats,” Palash said. “And we already have a large driver network in Germany, Netherlands and Austria. So, our product is right now quite famous among expats in these countries.” Clients can get customer support in English or German in Germany.
Let’s look at all the elements necessary to turn a successful startup into a successful company:
Palash tells Dispatches his developers have built a platform that can handle 100,000 users in the near term, scaling to a million users in months. “And this is the reason we are working on this scalability right now,” he said. So far, the business is almost all individuals, but the startup just signed their first corporate customer earlier this month. The goal is to get the global corporations – the Daimlers of the world – to use Luggage Pool, Palash said.
The rule is that anyone who has free time and van space can register on the Luggage Pool platform as a driver. That includes professional movers, because Palash notes that if someone has a really large move from Berlin to Amsterdam and need pros to disassemble the furniture, reassemble the furniture, load and unload, “then an individual cannot do it. For that you need a professional.”
The only condition to register on the LP platform is “keep things simple and straight.” Senders can directly book a delivery just like they book flight tickets online – in three clicks.
Luggage Pool provides more than connections to trucks and vans. They connect people with handymen for repairs and assembly, long-distance drive share, crowd shipping, courier service/document delivery and even travel companions.
So far, they have top ratings on Google and Facebook.
LP generated about 26,000 euros in fees in October. Luggage Pool takes 24 percent of the total value of each transaction: 19 percent from the buyer and five percent from the service providers.
For the first two years, Palash & Co. are focused on Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Switzerland. The reason is language … team members speak German and English, Palash said. In a few years, he’s planning to expand the team and markets.
Luggage Pool has 14 employees, all working remotely. That includes a marketing team in India and web/app development people in Ukraine and Germany. “Corona teaches that it is possible to build a complete business remotely,” Palash said.
When a provider gets book, LP interviews them. Before the move, they make sure the person is genuine and committed to the work, then follow up during the whole process of transportation.
Drivers sometimes need to send photos to make sure goods are loaded safely.
HOW THEY STOP CHEATERS
To ensure that people don’t do a deal off the platform, LP has filters in their chat system to ensure users cannot share personal information.
So far, the team has boot-strapped the concept, but Palash says they’re positioning Luggage Pool to start raising early stage investment capital in 2022 and expand to the rest of Europe: “We want to be the market leader in Europe – a go-to platform for anyone want to deliver homes, deliver furniture or any kind of delivery.”
See more on Dispatches here about startups and tech.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.