There was a strong ethos of community when startups like Lyft and Airbnb helped kickstart the “sharing economy.” Lyft had passengers sit in the front seat and fistbump their drivers, and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky once remarked that his company was “in the business of meaningful experiences.”
But it looks like the kumbayah days of simply renting your spare room or backseat for some extra cashe are giving way to the capitalist world we are all familiar with. One where in addition to paying for your space, guests and passengers pony up for snacks, treats and other sundries.
Yesterday, Cargo, a startup that lets rideshare drivers sell snacks from the front seat of the car, announced that it had raised $5.5 million. Cargo is basically a container that straps to the center console. Inside are things like snack bars and breath mints–stuff you see at the counter of a convenience store. Passengers can use their mobile phone to order and pay for desired items.
According to TechCrunch, the company is in 2,500 cars on the road in NYC, Chicago, Boston and Minneapolis — with 20,000 drivers signing up for the service from all around the U.S.. Drivers get a commission and evidently earn on average an extra $100 or so a month. So wherever you are, you’re bound to encounter upsells in your Uber relatively soon.
Then there is Qvie, a company we looked at earlier this month. Qvie is a small vending machine that you can put in your Airbnb to offer wine or snacks to guests. The Qvie is just a single-item vending machine right now, but as Mike Wolf pointed out, it’s not hard to imagine them coming out with something closer to an unmanned store offering up a variety of items.
To be clear, both of these ideas seem like good ones. There have been a few times when I’ve wished for a breath mint while on a ride to a meeting. And if you’re going to rent your home out, it makes sense to offer up snacks or items people may have forgotten (toothpaste, band-aids, etc.), though I’m not sure of the legality of selling wine in your house.
But both Qvie and Cargo point to a whole selling ecosystem rising up inside the sharing economy to add incremental sales for owners and convenience for customers. Plus, consumer packaged goods companies will also want this sales data to better understand buying patterns of their products. These vending systems will get better and smarter and more prevalent.
I mean, it’s not that ridiculous to think that Domino’s will get into this game and somehow combine its pizza oven car with an Uber for a piping hot pizza pie available to grab as you arrive home after a night out. Which, when you think about it, is totally worth a fistbump.