Fit to Scale

Local app-based delivery services PICKUP and Gozova move out of the startup phase and look toward growth.

Uber-style businesses are everywhere these days, reaching into industries like food and hospitality. The model is also making its way to delivery services through local companies like PICKUP and Gozova, both of which have launched and are looking to grow their Fort Worth footprints.

PICKUP and Gozova work similarly, using an app to connect customers with drivers who could pick up and move items like heavy furniture and appliances. PICKUP launched about two years ago, while Gozova launched its iPhone app last October and Android app in March.

PICKUP, an Addison-based company that serves Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Austin, is currently “recruiting heavily in Fort Worth,” said Brenda Stoner, PICKUP’s “Chief Good Guy,” as the company’s employees are called. Though PICKUP will not disclose its exact number of drivers in Fort Worth, the company estimates “dozens” and is trying to triple its current number.

“We don’t have enough guys there right now,” Stoner said. 

According to PICKUP, business in Fort Worth is expected to quadruple in 2017 over 2016. The app currently has 10,000 active users in all cities it serves.

PICKUP hires “good guys,” Stoner says, as employees go through extensive background checks that cover criteria like truck type, driver insurance, temperament and vehicle safety inspections, and only 10-15 percent of applicants get hired. Drivers are hired full time or part time and paid between $35-$50 an hour.

While the company focuses on hiring people like firefighters, veterans or first responders, anyone is welcome to apply – like Fort Worth driver Steven Lopez, who joined the company last year. When he’s not working his day job as an internal auditor for coffee company Farmers Brothers, he’s working in business development at PICKUP, as well as making deliveries in his 2013 Chevrolet Silverado.

He says the company does deliveries for several retail partners like Pier 1 Imports, Pottery Barn and Big Lots.

“We have so many opportunities in front of us,” Lopez said. “We just want to actually be a part of this thing because it will continue to grow.”

Gozova, too, is looking toward growth in Fort Worth. The company currently has 35 full-time drivers serving Fort Worth, as well as parts of Arlington and Keller. Many of its Fort Worth customers come from TCU-area apartments like Edge 55 and Century Colonial Park, as well as businesses like Costco.

“We’re having a chicken and egg problem right now,” Gozova founder and CEO Goran Krndija said. “Sometimes we have a lot of demand but not enough drivers. Sometimes we have a lot of drivers and not enough demand.”

That’s why Gozova, though capable of doing instant delivery, has been honing its focus on scheduled deliveries. The company was also recently accredited by the Better Business Bureau and is looking to join the Fort Worth Chamber.

Krndija said he’s fascinated by how the Uber business model has spread.

“How many cars does Uber own? Zero. How many hotels or rooms does Airbnb own? Zero. That’s the interesting part about that,” Krndija said. “You’ve got all these hotels and taxis that people actually own. Then you’ve got companies like us. We own the business [for] people who have trucks.”

And technology isn’t just impacting the delivery service industry, Stoner said.

“People are not going to be willing to wait anymore – technology is disrupting that entire space,” she said. “We are smack in the middle of what’s happening in the world, not only in our industry. We’re using technology to change the way things have been done. The status quo will not work anymore.”