Local ride-sharing service expands to include delivery services

Monday, November 20, 2017
BEN MATTHEWS ~ bmatthews@semissourian.com CarGo operations manager Kyle Cambell poses for a photo on Oct. 31, 2017, at Marquette Tower in Cape Girardeau.

The local ride-sharing service carGO has come a long way in less than a year.

Launched in January 2017, the Cape Girardeau-based tech startup was a transportation service to begin with, much like Uber and Lyft, but tailored to Cape Girardeau's needs.

Kyle Campbell, carGO operations manager, said the original idea was to start with one aspect of a multi-faceted approach, and as the base grew, so too could the business.

It's working out well, he said.

The app and its drivers has provided more than 17,000 rides so far, said carGO co-founder and Codefi founding member James Stapleton.

A CarGo carryout vehicle turns in front of the Marquette Tower at the intersection of Broadway and N. Fountain St. on Oct. 31, 2017 in Cape Girardeau.
BEN MATTHEWS ~ bmatthews@semissourian.com

Codefi Labs programmers worked on developing carGO's tech workings. Initially the app applied only to ride sharing, but it's expanded recently.

"We had an idea and plan for a food and item delivery service," Campbell said. "Two months ago we launched it."

So far, he added, 20 restaurants are on board for the food delivery service, called carGo Carryout, which uses the same app as the ride-sharing and item-delivery service.

The app even allows split payments for orders.

Having the track record with customers has really helped as well, Campbell said, allowing carGO to approach partner companies with a proven product.

A CarGo carryout vehicle turns in front of the Marquette Tower at the intersection of Broadway and N. Fountain St. on Oct. 31, 2017 in Cape Girardeau.
BEN MATTHEWS ~ bmatthews@semissourian.com

CarGO Courier gives an opportunity to businesses that might not otherwise be able to afford to have a full-time delivery staff and software infrastructure, Campbell said.

Flower shops are a good example of a place that could benefit from this model, Campbell added.

"It gives local businesses a chance to beat Amazon," Stapleton said.

Amazon Prime can deliver in two days, Stapleton said, but if a business selling light fixtures could deliver an item to a customer the same day using carGO, everyone wins, he said.

"We thought we knew what businesses wanted" when they launched the delivery service, Campbell said. "Now we have data."

Cutline-Body Copy:A CarGo carryout vehicle turns in front of the Marquette Tower at the intersection of Broadway and North Fountain Street on Oct. 31, in Cape Girardeau.
Cutline Email/Stock:BEN MATTHEWS

The app delivers information to carGO, including information on how the service is being used.

That data helps carGO determine when and how to shift the business approach to best serve customers, Campbell said.

"In one sense, it's really unique," Stapleton said. "There's a lot of really complex tech, developed and maintained here in Cape Girardeau."

Stapleton called it "great luck" to have so many talented developers in Cape Girardeau at Codefi.

"It speaks to the quality of people here," Stapleton said, that multiple systems can work together to automate most of the carGO system.

A CarGo carryout vehicle turns in front of the Marquette Tower at the intersection of Broadway and N. Fountain St. on Oct. 31, 2017 in Cape Girardeau.
BEN MATTHEWS ~ bmatthews@semissourian.com

The developers have a real challenge in that they don't have control over every element in the system. People's cellphones might not be the latest, most powerful model, for instance, Stapleton said. Reception might not be great, or there could be other concerns.

With food delivery, customers expect a constant update of where their driver is, Stapleton added. That was another tech challenge, but the team at Codefi Labs rose to it.

Campbell said that couldn't have been possible without the driver pool.

"We have 80 to 100 active drivers," Campbell said.

While some are college students, as would be expected in a city Cape Girardeau's size with a university, some drivers are older -- people who are retired or semiretired, Stapleton said.

A CarGo carryout vehicle turns in front of the Marquette Tower at the intersection of Broadway and N. Fountain St. on Oct. 31, 2017 in Cape Girardeau.
BEN MATTHEWS ~ bmatthews@semissourian.com

With that many drivers, Campbell said, "it's on us to keep them busy."

Hence the branching out into item and food delivery.

Some of the drivers have been with carGO since its launch, Campbell added.

There are requirements, but as long as drivers are able to maintain a clean driving record and have a newer car in good working order, they should be set, Campbell said.

Training for each driver helps ensure everyone is on the same page, too, Campbell said.

Cutline-Body Copy: CarGo operations manager Kyle Cambell poses for a photo on Oct. 31, at Marquette Tower in Cape Girardeau.
Cutline Email/Stock:BEN MATTHEWS

The training program has definitely evolved over the months, Campbell said, and now it's concise, and drivers can be trained and ready to go in a matter of hours.

Campbell said the next step is to really solidify their methods, and expand into other markets with similar dynamics to Cape Girardeau.

Said Stapleton, "We're happy with what's happening here."

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