Fifteeen-year Buckhead resident Marc Gorlin is a true community man and a tech entrepreneur with a knack for challenging giant industries — and the status quo — by thinking about things a little differently. Marc is one of the proud natives left in Atlanta and has started multiple business locally, including his latest venture. He believes Atlanta is a great place to start a technology company (the region is ripe with access to tech talent, the quality and cost of living are great).  Our city is also the perfect place to contribute to the shipping industry, which originally exploded in 1837 when Atlanta was first dubbed “Terminus” with the birth of America’s first east to midwest railway in Five Points.
Marc has a comfortable, folksy way of talking about his newest start-up, an application-based shipping community called Roadie, an idea which came to Gorlin in early 2014 when he was trying to get some replacement tile from Birmingham to his condo in Perdido Key on Friday, even though the next FedEx delivery wasn’t until Monday.
“I knew there was someone heading my way from Birmingham that very moment, and if I just knew who they were, surely they’d let me throw a box of tile in their trunk. And I’d gladly pay them $20 for helping me out,” says Gorlin. “And then it struck me…there’s an invisible grid under all of our feet made up of the patterns and places we go every day, driving to work, on vacation and just running errands. There’s literally a billion square feet of excess capacity moving along that grid every single day. If we could just reveal the grid and make it easy for people to plug into it, we could solve a lot of the shipping industries current challenges, and make the world a better, greener, friendlier place.”
So, how does the first neighbor-to-neighbor shipping network compete with traditional carriers like FedEx and the U.S. Post Office? Well, everything starts with a mobile app. Senders post details and pictures of the items they want to send. Roadie drivers who are heading that direction respond based on location and timing with their availability to deliver. Roadie fees are calculated based on mileage, size and other factors, and range from $8 to $150, with no bidding, bartering or in-person exchange of cash. The Roadie app enables efficient, low-cost delivery for senders and rewards drivers for trips they were already taking, including cash and a variety of benefits like free roadside assistance, roadside discounts of food and gas, and tax write-offs on miles they were already driving. The company recently announced a partnership with Waffle House as its first official “Roadhouse,” allowing Roadie drivers and senders to meet at one of 1,750 convenient Waffle House locations in 25 states to exchange packages and grab a plate of smothered and covered hashbrowns while they’re at it.
The idea of “carpooling for cargo” may sound simple enough, but many believe it’s an idea that has the potential to disrupt the $90B shipping industry, just as Uber, Airbnb and other so-called sharing economy companies have done in the hotel and transportation industries.
Just two months after launch, Roadie has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, The Today Show, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! Even more surprising, perhaps, the start-up has received more than $10 million in series A funding from a host of who’s who in the venture community, including a surprising backer, Atlanta’s own UPS.
“UPS continues to invest in innovation,” says Rimas Kapeskas, managing director of the UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund. “We believe that mobile and the sharing economy are active spaces, generating many creative and intriguing business models, like Roadie. Our Strategic Enterprise Fund is all about staying connected to evolving business models and new technologies.”
As an involved member of his community, Marc supports the University of Georgia Hartman foundation among other charities. Marc attended Chamblee Charter High School and the University of Georgia, where he remains an avid Bulldog fan and attends most home games. Whenever he gets a chance, he heads just north of Brookhaven to eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant in Chamblee, El Torero. He’s been eating there since he used to sneak out of high school for lunch. He claims it’s the best salsa on the planet. He is married and has two kids who both attend Morris Brandon Elementary School.
The Roadie app is available for download in the iTunes Store and on Google Play. With more than 25,000 downloads to date, there are now Roadies every state, including Hawaii, ready to pick up deliveries.