Decorating your home with vintage finds from the West Bottoms and deals from Craigslist just got a little easier.
A pair of Kansas State graduates, Ben Jackson and Harrison Proffitt, have launched a truck-sharing site called Bungii. If the armoire you can’t pass up or that couch you found online just won’t fit in your Jetta, contact Bungii and they will find you a “friend with a truck” to come pick it up within the hour. The driver will also help you load and unload.
The fledgling company has already won a Kansas State Launch Award and Kansas Entrepreneurial Challenge award. Proffitt explains how the service works, and why they chose Kansas City as a launch site for their startup.
Q: How does Bungii work?
A: Most people can remember a time when they say to themselves it would be nice to have a truck. We want to be available at that moment. Unfortunately, not everything fits in a Toyota Prius. We want to be there for that “I need a truck” moment.
For our drivers, people have trucks that often just sit in their driveways. We help them put that excess capacity to work. Our drivers bring their own trucks to the job, but we vet and train all of our drivers. We do background checks, vehicle inspections, personal ride-alongs with drivers and customer service training.
All of our drivers are required to carry at least two bungee cords, four straps and two blankets. They are trained to help load and unload all of the items to wherever you want it in your house or to wherever you are picking it up. You are getting a buddy to help you move with the truck. You can’t put a couch in the back of a truck by yourself. You need that buddy.
Q: Where did you get the idea?
A: Ben owns a ’99 Ford Ranger, which is a typical college truck. He was always having friends coming up wanting to borrow his truck to move stuff. One day in the summer, he got four requests in one day, including a request from me. He’s a nice person, but it got frustrating.
That night he was lying in bed and thought there has to be a better way. The next day in one of our business classes, he turned to me and said, “What do you think?” We decided to start a business and have been running with it ever since.
Q: How did you get going with it?
A: We wanted to prove the idea and make sure it was valid before we decided to start spending money on development or software. About a year ago, we performed a test market in Manhattan over the summer.
We did the moves ourselves with Ben’s Ford Ranger and my Jeep, which had a trailer attached. In that three-month time period, we did over 350 pickups, which was nuts.
We decided it could work. So we found a software company to help us build it. We started getting bids and pitching to investors who raised capital. We now have drivers and a website where people can request pickups. We will have an app launching this fall.
Q: How much does it cost and how long does it take?
A: With our website, we can get you a truck within the hour right now. When our app is out, hopefully you will be able to get a truck within minutes.
Our pricing model is a dollar per minute and a dollar per mile. We’ve discovered the average price to get a couch across town is anywhere from $35 to $45. The app will also have a GPS tracking and driver rating system.
Q: What kind of vehicles are you using, and can people request the type?
A: We focus on the standard-sized pickup truck. We found with all these supplies our drivers have they can move practically any large item in the back of our pickup truck.
Most people are just looking for the truck bed and the space to put in a couch. We’re finding that people are moving anything that doesn’t fit in a car, mattresses, couches, antiques, lumber, trees, pots for planting landscaping, whatever does not fit in the back of a car.
Q: Why Bungii?
A: When we were testing and trying to come up with a name, Ben threw a bungee cord at me. I thought: it’s flexible, it’s inexpensive, it’s reliable. We changed the spelling and people have been responding to it. We are getting a lot of traction from customers.
We’re learning a lot on a daily basis. We are looking to start expanding and scaling to other cities by the end of 2016.