Consumers have irreversibly changed the way that they shop – they are expecting unprecedented levels of convenience and speed. While on-demand delivery startups from Uber Eats to Instacart continue to grow, some small businesses struggle to find the right solution for their organization’s needs. In order for local businesses to be successful in the current landscape, convenience is paramount.
Nash is a startup that aims to bring new possibilities to these small, local businesses. Shortly after their launch, they received the first-ever Ron Conway Economic Empowerment Award, which, according to the Airbnb website, recognizes “companies that enhance economic empowerment and drive economic opportunity in innovative ways, while working to make the tech industry more diverse and inclusive.” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky decided the award winner, along with Ron Conway and Michael Seibel.
We recently spoke to Mahmoud Ghulman, the co-founder, and CEO of Nash about how and why consumer expectations are changing, the opportunities that his companies are providing to small businesses, and where the startup is headed next.
Gary Drenik: Tell me more about your background and what led you to start Nash.
Mahmoud Ghulman: Prior to Nash, I founded a gig-worker parking logistics company and then led Business Development at Mozn, where we developed AI solutions in anti-money laundering, stock-market fraud, and credit scores in finance and insurance.
Meanwhile my cofounder Aziz Alghunaim had spent a couple of years building a mobile application that connects refugees with real, volunteer translators all over the world, the company went through Y Combinator in 2018. Before that, he was a software engineer at Palantir working on a number of high-volume data problems.
The two of us had originally met at a high school science fair and later on, attended MIT together. We instantly connected and have long been working together solving technical problems.
During Covid-19, we saw a huge opportunity to improve the delivery space. We noticed a lot of untapped utilization across potential delivery providers alongside many businesses struggling to keep up with growing consumer demand for delivery. That’s where the idea of Nash came from, and after Aziz’s previous positive experience with YCombinator, we decided to apply to join in Spring 2021 to put our idea into action.
Drenik: How have you seen consumer expectations change over the years and how does this impact small businesses specifically?
Ghulman: Over the past few years, consumers have come to expect incredibly fast, reliable delivery at an affordable price—across all industries. In fact, more than 10% of people have leveraged same-day delivery in the last 30 days, according to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, which is astonishing when you think about the fact that these services didn’t even exist a decade ago.
At the same time, this trend is causing smaller businesses to struggle. Launching a delivery service and doing it well is a challenge. It can be expensive, especially if you’re hiring your own drivers or using a third-party delivery provider that can take up to a 30% cut of your order profits. On top of that, ensuring reliability—getting the orders on-time, to the right drop-off location, in-full— with existing third-party service options can be incredibly complex as they require a unique set of infrastructure in place.
We’re building a software and logistics solution that allows any business, from a local food market to a flower shop, to easily activate reliable local delivery by tapping into a large network of delivery providers that have already been sourced and vetted. All it takes is one simple setup and those businesses are good to go.
Drenik: With all the existing delivery services available — from Uber Eats to Instacart to Gopuff —- where does Nash fit into this ecosystem?
Ghulman: According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, 22% of people over 18 have used an on-demand food delivery service, so needless to say these offerings aren’t going anywhere. Nash works with delivery app services, not against them. Each is a marketplace that can be utilized in different ways and at different levels. They have massive fleets, but at the core of their business they’re focused on serving a specific market: UberEats with restaurant delivery, Instacart with groceries, and GoPuff with convenience stores.
At Nash we view the entire delivery ecosystem as a network for collaboration. We work with these marketplaces by tapping into their fleets to unlock capacity for businesses looking to build or scale their delivery operations.
Through a direct integration, businesses get access to these major marketplace networks and choose delivery providers manually or have Nash do it automatically. Businesses receive real-time price and time estimates plus information about the delivery person, including their contact information and location. We also allow for customizations not available elsewhere, like refrigerated transportation, vans and trucks that can carry large items, scheduled and same-hour deliveries, as well as store-to-store deliveries and customer returns.
Drenik: Can you share a little bit more around how your business leverages AI?
We use AI and machine learning to optimize delivery routes. We predict a courier’s on-time delivery performance given variables like pickup time, drop-off time, package value, distance, and drive time. Businesses can build a customized delivery workflow by leveraging our API platform or access Nash directly through our technical partnerships with industry-leading marketplaces, aggregators, and point-of-sale providers. This approach makes it easy for teams to reduce the technical overhead required to maintain a high-performance delivery operation.
Drenik: What’s in store next for Nash? What’s your vision for the future?
We aim to be the Stripe of delivery – the backbone of an entire industry. We’re passionate about empowering businesses with delivery and leaving room for new businesses to emerge & flourish on this technology. And much like the fintech industry has done with products like Stripe and Square, we’re hoping that delivery tech will help unlock entrepreneurship and launch new businesses by removing the once-complex hurdle of building your own delivery operations.
To enable more businesses to offer delivery, we are expanding our platform and building delivery strategies for new verticals like retail, car parts, pet supplies, laundry, flowers, printing and framing, pharma, and small parcels. We’re also thinking about new geographies and markets, like the UK and Australia. Our plan is to expand outside of North America by the end of the year, and we’re on track to do so.
Drenik: Thanks for taking the time to discuss Nash and how you’re helping local businesses better meet evolving consumer needs, I wish you the best of luck in the future as you progress on this important journey.
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