Mobile Delivery Platform Zipments Closes $2.2M Seed Round

Zipments, a New York City-based online delivery platform with roots in Grand Rapids, MI, announced yesterday that it has raised $2.25 million in seed funding from a national syndicate of investors, including First Mark Capital, Huron River Ventures, the Windquest Group, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Chicago Ventures, and Robert Safrata, CEO at Novex Couriers, one of the largest same-day delivery services in Canada.

Zipments, which was founded in 2010 in Grand Rapids, has created a mobile app that connects couriers, retailers, and consumers to provide same-day delivery service. Garrick Pohl, the co-founder and CEO of Zipments, says his company seeks to help New York City-based retailers, restaurants, law offices, and accounting firms act like Amazon. Customers who order from one of the hundreds of local retailers that interact with Zipments’ API can “choose two-day delivery from UPS, or one-day delivery from Zipments.”

Local retailers are “missing that fast fulfillment layer, even though they’re physically closer,” he explains. “That’s what we offer.”

Local pickup requests are made through the Zipments mobile app, API, or website. Delivery requests are then automatically dispatched through the mobile app to a network of couriers based on the mode of transportation and amount of time required to complete the delivery. Once a courier has officially accepted a delivery request, customers can monitor their deliveries through real-time updates.

Zipments also offers a collaborative commerce platform and online tools to couriers to allow them to operate more smoothly and professionally. “We retooled the whole platform to be more enterprise instead of a marketplace,” Pohl says. “It’s for couriers who really do this as a living. We’re not just letting anyone sign up; we’re looking for people who want to run a legitimate business.”

In fact, according to Pohl, it’s this backend system offered to couriers—automated billing and dispatching, routing information to pick-up and drop-off locations, access to large retail and e-commerce clients, and more—that distinguishes Zipments from competing companies like Shutl.

Pohl says that Grand Rapids, with a population of about 190,000, was a surprisingly good place to build and test Zipments. The company had “an incredible number” of people sign up to be couriers, but in order to expand the customer side of the business, they relocated the headquarters to New York. However, all the product development work is still done out of Zipments’ Grand Rapids office.

The company will use the seed funding to expand into other markets and to beef up its e-commerce components, Pohl says. Zipments is currently in the middle of pilot projects in other cities and expects to officially open in two to three more cities by the end of 2013.

“We’re really excited about the groups on our investor side,” Pohl adds. “Our focus is on helping smaller businesses run more efficiently and revitalizing the courier industry.”

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