For students who can’t go home but need forgotten items, the Sent team has an affordable solution.
UT computer science freshmen Suket Shah, Avi Ghayalod and Kaustub Navalady, created Sent, a peer-to-peer delivery service funded through Longhorn Startup, a program that allows student entrepreneurs to pitch and launch startups.
This platform connects students going back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, called carriers, for the weekend with other students who want packages delivered from home. Through this service, UT students can have anything delivered, such as home-cooked food or a forgotten laptop charger.
Shah said shipping through other services such as FedEx can be expensive. Through Sent, students pay approximately $15 per package.
“It’s a lot cheaper than FedEx or other companies because it’s peer-to-peer, so you don’t have to pay for a middle party,” Shah said.
Parents or students order with a form on the Sent Facebook page. The form asks for the student’s and sender’s names, phone numbers, package description, and pick-up time and location.
Ashwin Purohit, electrical engineering freshman, is a student who used the service to have a forgotten jacket, pillow and video game delivered from home. He said the service is really useful and is likely to use it again.
“My mom really liked the service because she’s always trying to send me stuff like food,” Purohit said. “She even told a bunch of other UT moms who have kids, and they really want to use it too.”
In addition to receiving packages, students can apply on the website to be carriers. Those who are already going home for the weekend can deliver other students’ packages to earn $10 per parcel they take.
“Our goal is that no student should go back just for our company. It’s when you’re going back normally for a weekend,” Shah said. “Then you’re like, ‘Hey, I might as well earn money while driving back home.’”
The team started the service last semester and had their first fully operational week in February. As the team continues to fine tune the service, several mentors they’ve connected with through Longhorn Startup are helping guide them through the process.
Ryan Harmon, CEO and co-founder of Press Technologies, is one of their mentors. He said his role is to offer wisdom from his own experiences and act as a sounding board for ideas, while the students do the legwork.
“I don’t see any reason why they won’t be able to replicate this in other universities,” Harmon said. “They’ve proven out the model, they’ve done deliveries and they’ve been successful there. Now it’s time to start to pour some gas on the fire and see how big it can get.”
Some of the success they’ve already seen includes an invitation to present at the South by Southwest technology conference in the startup crawl segment. Though SXSW was canceled, Harmon said this invitation proves the promise of the service.
They plan to develop an app during the summer to streamline the service and move the process off of the website. Meanwhile, they continue to perfect the service through trial and error.
“It’s a process,” Shah said. “Obviously it wasn’t going to be perfect the first time, but eventually the more runs you get, the better it gets.”