Co-op Rock Stars: WeDeliver Wins Techweek’s $100,000 Prize
The WeDeliver team celebrates its Techweek win June 28 with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago Techweek sent Chicago Ideas Week Co-opmember WeDeliver home with a $100,000 cash prize June 28 after beating out more than 70 other startups to win its LAUNCHcompetition.
WeDeliver provides same-day, customized delivery – by foot, bike, car and more. They’ve transported everything from flowers to bottled water, charging about $10 on average per order, according to Chicago Grid.
“You tell us when you want it and we’ll facilitate that,” said Jimmy Odom, WeDeliver’s founder and CEO, during a phone interview.
Gone are the days of waiting for packages with delivery windows of a few hours. The startup’s customers pick exact times for deliveries, track their orders in real-time and text employees instructions – such as knocking on a back door is better than ringing a doorbell.
“Customer experience means everything to me,” Odom said.
The prize package includes resources like legal consultation in addition to the funding, which Odom said the startup will use to expand at a slow, steady pace. He said they plan to hire about 55 people during the next 60 days to add to their existing team of five full-time and four part-time employees. They’ll also finalize their website, which is currently in beta testing.
“I wish we could scale faster… but the experience matters too much,” Odom said. “We know that what we’re building is right. That’s what matters to us.”
Their success began with a Startup Weekend Chicago win in November. Sponsored by companies like Google and Coca-Cola, the competition involved coming up with a business plan for WeDeliver in 54 hours.
But Odom had an eye for dispatch services ever since running “Front Dough Pizza,” a delivery-only pizza company he ran from 2008 to 2010 while studying at The Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. But the inspiration behind WeDeliver?
“The Walking Dead” television series, to be exact. One day Odom’s mother asked him to pick up her medicine – right in the middle of a suspenseful show. He wondered why the store didn’t offer delivery options for customers’ prescriptions – and started thinking of ways improved distribution services could help people across sectors.
“It just lit a fire under me,” Odom said.
Odom also credits WeDeliver’s success to the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s 1871, a shared workspace backed by investors like J.B. Pritzker.
“It takes a community to build a startup, and we have experienced that with 1871,” Odom said.
That same spirit of fostering symbiotic success is why he said he joined the CIW Co-op.
“When you have the smartest people in the room, who knows what can come of it?” he said.
For more about WeDeliver and other CIW Co-op rock stars, visit The Cooperative.