Monetizing extra luggage space through crowdsourced shipping

#3 Product of the DayMarch 20, 2016
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Thanks for hunting BuddyExpress, @kwdinc! :) Hi Product Hunters! I’m excited to share BuddyExpress with you. BuddyExpress connects travelers who have extra luggage space to people with shipping and shopping needs. BuddyExpress was conceived after FedEx billed me several hundred dollars to send a small xmas gift to my parents overseas. Luckily I was able to find an uncle who happened to be traveling there to carry my package for me - but that took a few, very inconvenient hours of calling around. After doing bit of research and asking the community lots of questions, I discovered that the practice of leveraging one’s network for shipping is common and widespread but lacking good tools for making it an efficient and easily monetizable process. I hope that this app opens up cheaper shipping options - especially on under-served and over-priced shipping routes - while enabling travelers to monetize their extra luggage space to discount the cost of their trips. **Please try out the iOS app, would love to hear your feedback and ideas for improvement. Android version coming soon! Some details: This initial release aims to provide users with trust, safety and monetization/insurance. 1) Trust BuddyExpress users prefer to tap into their network of family and friends for shipping - even with a few degrees of separation - because of implied accountability. BuddyExpress uses social authentication to do the heavy lifting of connecting users to their network, providing accountability via a review system and also screening against the terrorist watch list to filter out bad actors. 2) Safety/Security Travelers are concerned about the risk of carrying contraband as well as customs regulations. BuddyExpress provides a public audit trail of packages by documenting package ownership and photos, and providing information that allows travelers to properly declare packages to customs and establish a chain of custody. 3) Monetization/Insurance BuddyExpress users also want a smooth payment mechanism for monetizing their luggage space. Package senders are also concerned about theft, damage and loss and want some form of insurance/collateral. BuddyExpress provides a payments and escrow system that guarantees payment to travelers for successful deliveries, and reimbursement to shippers in the event of theft, loss or damage. Thanks for reading! Looking forward to valuable feedback and insights from the Product Hunt community.
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@geordasche So when the person at check-in asks me "are you carrying anything for someone else?" I say "Yes" I have to deal with the hassle, right? I'm assuming as part of airtravel checks and security, carrying something for someone else is one of the big red flags. How do you deal with these situations?
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@bentossell Great question. Spent some time interviewing the folks who ask those questions at the airport and it turns out that you are allowed to say "Yes", because you are allowed to carry things for others. They ask so that they can properly screen the package - for the traveler's protection, and so that any disallowed items don't get on the flight. They understand that the practice is very common.
@geordasche Yeah I guess the common scenario is that people just lie and say no to that question so that there is less risk of further questions... I dont know anyone who's said yes and then heard what happened after haha. I guess people will always throw the security side at you but realistically the bad scenarios can happen with or without buddyexpress. What I'd like to see is somewhere that chips away at the 'total mass allowance' - Because currently, a 200kg person can take on 25kg baggage (give or take) but same allowance for a person half their size??
@bentossell lol, that's a very interesting thought! Another democratization twist is that the airlines do sell unused luggage capacity to commercial entities without any direct revenue share w/ the passengers who have paid for and own that space. In fairness, though, that might already be factored into ticket prices.
@geordasche yeh I feel like people dont understand what is factored in where and how it could possibly make sense for various travel scenarios! Something to open up that would be awesome :)
Sounds risky. Any room for drug or terrorist activities? If so, how would you deal with all those?
@mirmayne The app screens against the terrorist watchlist, limits the categories of items that can be carried, and also provides a public audit trail of package photos to establish chain of custody. Ultimately, as required by our user agreement, the best protection for the traveler is to properly declare the package for screening at the airport - just like they would if sending via post office. What our users are saying is that they want tools to make it easier to tap into their trusted network of family and friends for shipping - even with a few degrees of separation - and that's the primary goal: enabling easy access to trusted network. Our goal is to make this existing practice even safer so welcome your thoughts on features that will enhance this.
@mirmayne I find it risky aswell. Since people fake even passports. I dont think that there is a rule!? To carry risky stuff and say it belongs to someone else, but it is still in your luggage. If people would not be honest, this would be a perfect Solution for Turkish people!!!
@tristancelebi I agree. Look at also this concept: Jim asks me to carry is watch. Jim knows it cost him £4K. I ran off with it never to be seen again. I'm curious to see how this app plays out.
@mirmayne 😂 niceconcept. On the one Hand you lose money or the other hand you go to Guantanamo bay!?
@mirmayne @tristancelebi Good points - hence the escrow/collateral provided by the app. If you run off w/ Jim's watch, BuddyExpress will charge your credit card to reimburse Jim. :)
The TSA's gonna love this.
BuddyExpress connects travelers who have extra luggage space to people with shipping and shopping needs. Travelers can earn extra cash by carrying safe packages on their personal trips, particularly for routes underserved by traditional couriers. Senders are able to bid for affordable shipping, especially for emergency shipping needs which are traditionally expensive.
Could you expand on the risk and security aspect of this? Does it change at scale?
@zosegal Great question. What we're hearing from users is that they want the tools to manage risk by allowing them to tap into their trusted networks of friends and family for shipping. Trust is key, so BuddyExpress leverages social authentication, pulls in your network, provides community policing via reviews, and documentation as well to enable you to make better decisions on security and risk. The idea being that it scales because it's the community that is managing security and risk, and not a central bottleneck. Thoughts?