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Waffle House Wants In On The Sharing Economy

The stuff-hauling app Roadie has locked down a deal to provide free waffles and southern hospitality to in-transit Roadies.

Waffle House Wants In On The Sharing Economy
[Photo: Flickr user Michael Fajardo]

Roadie, the “grab my stuff on the way” gig delivery app launched earlier this month, is hoping to attract more drivers with a new partnership with Southern megachain Waffle House. While drivers who use the app to deliver packages to other Roadie users already earn a modest fee for their work, the new Waffle House deal will also allow them to claim free drinks.

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The Roadie app lets users post requests for someone to deliver stuff to them, which drivers (“Roadies”) claim in exchange for payment. The stuff could be anything from keys left at home to a sofa bought online, so long as it fits in a car. The Waffle House partnership provides incentives to app users posting requests and Roadies alike: Everyone gets a free waffle for downloading the app, and customers who visit Waffle House while on a delivery also get a free drink. Waffle House is also offering all of its restaurants as neutral ground for users to pick up packages from Roadies.

As I reported before Roadie’s launch, each “gig” to have stuff delivered costs a base fee ($8 to $150 depending on location) plus mileage, and all items cost the same to haul–“like if a friend were picking it up,” says Roadie founder and CEO Marc Gorlin. Items are insured for up to $500 and a “before” picture of the item must be taken prior to the journey to ensure that damage during delivery can be ascertained. Unlike Uber, where drivers are motivated by direct profit, Roadie’s ecosystem relies on the convenience of Roadies picking up stuff to deliver to a place they were driving already, in exchange for a bit of cash. It’s not a profit machine for users, so Roadie’s ecosystem relies on goodwill.

Waffle House is certainly hoping that more drivers will pull over and buy a meal. And odds are there will be a Waffle House on the drive: The chain claims over 1,750 locations in the Southeast, where Roadie has launched. But the beloved waffle chain stretches beyond the South, reaching as far west as Arizona and as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Geographer and hobbyist mapmaker Nik Freeman found that 66% of Waffle House restaurants exist below the Georgia-Tennessee border. Behold, his data-crunched findings revealing the spoils from Roadie’s new partnership:

Image: via mapsbynik

Roadie founder Gorlin is letting the app organically grow out of the U.S. Southeast, waiting for requests from other states to hit a critical threshold of user and Roadie signups before expanding the service. Gorlin and his team made an early push to entice a roving army of drivers who already dominate the highways between Southern states: college kids. Waffle House is an ideal low-key (and inexpensive) venue for college students and others looking to save money and time by using Roadie instead of a traditional delivery or postal service. As Gorlin told me before Roadie launched early this month:

I think Roadie is authentically Southern at its roots, but everybody needs to get stuff from point A to point B. Facebook and Twitter are littered with items that people need. Right now I guarantee that people in the Northeast would love to get some extra snowblowers.

The app may eventually grow beyond Waffle House’s operating borders, but for now, Roadie is betting that the promise of a free mid-journey drink will keep drivers using the app.

[via The Verge]

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