Metro, Business

Harvard-Based Tech Startup Veho Merges Uber with UPS

Itamar Zur and Matt Graham are reinventing package delivery.

The two developed Veho Technologies in Harvard Business School, where they both met very early on and attended with the same goal of starting a company. Graham received his undergraduate chemical engineering degree at Stony Brook University. Then, he attended Columbia University for operations research, followed by four years of service in the Navy. Currently, Graham and Zur are nearing graduation at Harvard.

“A lot of people go to HBS for banking, consulting, and other jobs, but not as many people go there with the sole purpose of starting a company,” Graham said. “Ita and I hit it off pretty early since we had the same values and goals.”

Graham explained that the pair wanted to employ their own culture of teamwork and no politics to create something that would help people reach their maximum potential. Together, the following summer, they both decided to stay at school instead of pursuing internships—they intended to focus on actually building something, marking the beginning of what would come to fruition as Veho Technologies.

Graham explained how Zur had trouble getting his packages delivered to his apartment. They would consistently show up and get stolen before he could pick it up, and Zur couldn’t get in contact with the delivery service’s driver. This was how the motivation for the startup was born.

Veho Technologies harnesses the crowd-sourced economy of the package delivery space, using mobile technology to create a platform where users can effectively track packages in real time, and contact their Veho driver directly.

“We’re building a platform that allows anyone in their own car to deliver packages,” Graham said. “The customers we target are not the consumers or recipients–our customers are actually the delivery companies. They give us the packages to deliver.”

Graham and Zur began with the idea that the packages could get delivered to their specified area—a local convenient 7-11—where the recipients would have to walk and retrieve their packages in a safe space, eliminating the of risk of theft. They ran ads, attempting to see if anyone would hop on board with them. They spent the whole summer going door-to-door, distributing fliers and sending out feelers.

“We tested things on Facebook. We did interviews,” Graham said. “We literally walked around Boston for weeks actually just interviewing people and trying to find the best areas to test our initial idea of quick-and-collect.”

Graham and Zur ended up discovering a restaurant owner interested in running a trial with the burgeoning company. She agreed to have the packages delivered to her restaurant, where recipients would be sure that there was no risk of theft. In return, she hoped that these customers might buy food from her restaurant as they picked up the package. After going from apartment complex to apartment complex nearby the restaurant, however, Graham and Zur discovered that nobody wanted to sign up.

Confused, Graham and Zur realized that no one wanted to walk to retrieve a package. People just wanted them delivered directly to their doors. It was these kinds of failures that taught the pair about the industry, logistics, and consumers, and they returned to the streets of Boston motivated to conduct their own research.

They followed delivery drivers, actually having police called on them in one instance, gaining valuable first-hand experiences. Both Graham and Zur witnessed the industry, formulating the economics and how the models came together from within the delivery network.

Afterwards, they reached out to more than 90 executives via the Harvard Business School alumni network for consultation regarding their idea and perspective. Graham and Zur realized that the framework of the delivery space is a large market, but it lacks organization.

So Veho Technologies plans on expanding into that space, and widening its operations in Boston. They have already successfully delivered 3,700 packages. They intend to expand their network of drivers and accomplish a thousand deliveries weekly in Boston as they receive funding and near graduation. Graham emphasized that Veho Technologies intends to become the most driver-centric platform in the industry in comparison to Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and many other driver-oriented mobile platform applications. Graham specified the uniqueness of Veho Technologies in their consumers—large delivery services that provide the packages that need to be delivered. Therefore, there is more attention directed toward the quality and development of the drivers and the driver network at Veho Technologies.

“We want to be the platform that dominates the last mile,” Graham said. “Any last-mile deliveries, we want them all to be happening on our platform.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Veho Technologies

May 3, 2017