An app started by four University of Minnesota students will launch on campus next week with the intention of making delivery faster and more community-based.
Bharat Pulgam was a freshman in the Carlson School of Management when he started working on the Runerra app in November 2017 with Niel Patel, Sam Lerdahl and Josh Chang. Pulgam said users can use the "hyperlocal marketplace" app to let people in their vicinity know where they are going shopping so others can place orders and pay them a fee to deliver it.
“You would get a ping. It would say, ‘Hey, Bharat’s going to Starbucks. Do you want to hop on the run?’” Pulgam said. “And using the app, we facilitate the group payment, the communication and there’s even a rating system at the end to make sure everyone’s happy.”
All four creators are on leave from Carlson to work on the app full time.
Users can join different communities on the app based on where they live or where they currently are in the city, Pulgam said. Communities include Superblock residence halls, 17th Avenue residence hall and Bierman Field Athletic Building.
Users making pick-ups and deliveries, known as runners, decide their own fees, and Runerra requires that payments are made before the delivery. Runners can let users know when they plan to make a run and select the number of orders they will pick up.
“I feel like I would definitely use that,” said Jessica McClure, a University sophomore. “I have bigger friend groups and it’s very likely that at random points throughout the day, there’s going to be someone going somewhere.”
Runerra is also partnered with several restaurants, such as Qdoba and Burger King, which gives the companies the benefit of mutual advertising.
“I thought it might be interesting,” said Randal Gast, owner of the Dinkytown Qdoba.
Gast said the app was appealing because Qdoba didn't have to pay for the partnership and he saw no financial downside.
Kenya Becerra-Balbuena, a University freshman, said she likes the app's convenience and would like to use it to place orders at the University bookstore.
The app will be available on iOS for its launch Tuesday and on Android by the end of 2018. As Runerra continues to work on its product, the founders plan to eventually have restaurants sponsor runs by paying the delivery fee in communities that frequent the app.
“What we’re trying to replace is just you texting in a group and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going, does anyone need anything?’” said Pulgam. “We think that we’ve done that with this app.”