Any food near campus can soon be brought to your door for a dollar.
This is what Vago Logistics — a startup delivery service by Penn students — is promising to its customers. Vago, which delivers from restaurants, food trucks and food carts, began a beta launch Wednesday.
According to Vago founder and Wharton senior Evan Lyons, the beta launch consists of making the service available to about 75 people whom they chose through a contest on the company Facebook page.
During the beta launch, the delivery charge is a flat rate of $1. Next semester, Vago hopes to offer these options to all students: $1 for standard delivery, $2 to be moved to the top of the queue and $3 for guaranteed 15-minute delivery after the food is prepared.
If the 15-minute guarantee isn’t met, the customer’s next delivery will be free.
In addition, the delivery boys, or “agents” as Lyons calls them, do not accept tips.
Wharton and Engineering freshman Erik Burbulla, one of the beta launch customers, looks forward to using the service frequently.
“It’s way cheaper than GrubHub, and it’s just really useful because I’m too lazy to go out. If I want to get dinner or something, it’s just easier to get it delivered to the Quad,” he said.
College sophomore Joshua Erban is uncertain about whether he would use a service like Vago for food cart delivery.
“Food carts are only open from around 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. when you’re out and about anyways,” he said.
Vago currently works directly with Hub Bub Coffee, Sugar Philly and John’s Tamales food trucks, as well as Già Prontoand Chipotle restaurants. Vago also does catering.
Furthermore, Lyons said customers can enter in a take-out order they make to any establishment, and the company will deliver it for the same fee. Their boundaries extend from 30th to 45th streets and Pine to Market streets.
Hub Bub Coffee owner Drew Crockett, a 2005 College graduate, looks forward to working with Vago and believes his truck and Vago can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
“It’s going to add incremental business for us. It gives us the ability to outsource delivery and the potential to market a whole different side of the business. It gives us access to customers who are further away,” Crockett said. “But where I really see the opportunity is for people who want coffee for meetings.”
Crockett added that a nice addition is the fact that the consumer covers the convenience fee, so it doesn’t cost the food establishments anything. They can only profit from the service.
Vago has thus far relied on a very nontraditional business model. Lyons, an avid and successful poker player, has been funneling half of his poker profits into the company. The rest of their funds have come from angel investors, according to Lyons.
The business had a trial period during the summer, when delivery services were available on a limited basis. They had initially planned to do a full launch this semester.
College senior and Vago Director of Management Andy Tekriwal said a series of small obstacles can accumulate and delay the process.
Tekriwal added that the business does not want to launch too soon with a product that isn’t quite ready, a mistake many new companies make.
Vago currently consists of 15 employees, most of whom are Penn students. Tekriwal said balancing the business with classes, extracurricular activities and other aspects of the college lifestyle has also been difficult, but he remains optimistic.
Pushing the launch date will also give Vago employees a chance to perfect their online services, according to Director of Technology and College sophomore Graham Batzler. He said the extra time would let them increase the efficiency of their queue system and improve their order tracking, among other things.
The beta launch will also give Vago the opportunity to make adjustments before the commitment of a full launch.
“We still have room to expand. We are still at a stage where we are able to take people’s feedback and use that,” Lyons said.