The pandemic normalized delivery in the U.S. But even before the health crises struck, delivery sales at restaurants alone were increasing at a rate of 7% to 8% per year, roughly twice that of sales across the entire restaurant industry, according to McKinsey. The trouble is, delivery can be a nightmare from the restaurant and merchant side. Among other challenges, businesses often rely on a single partner to make their deliveries, making them highly susceptible to fluctuations in supply and demand and service reliability.
On a mission to make deliveries less of a headache, Mahmoud Ghulman founded Nash, a platform that aggregates delivery providers to allow businesses to select those that make the most sense, price- and availability-wise. Nash plugs into third-party delivery APIs from DoorDash, Lyft, Uber and other partners, providing customers with software to manage and offer local deliveries to their customers.
"Over the past few years, my co-founders and I watched how consumers have come to expect incredibly fast, reliable delivery at an affordable price given what the retail, delivery, and transportation giants have accomplished," Ghulman told TechCrunch in an email interview. "However, this has created a landscape where medium and small businesses struggle to meet consumer demands due to the complexity and high cost associated with running and maintaining a last-mile delivery operation. So we became really interested in building a software and logistics solution that would allow any business to easily activate reliable local delivery by building custom workflows and tapping into a large network of delivery providers."
Image Credits: Nash
Ghulman met Nash's other co-founder, Aziz Alghunaim, at a science fair in high school, and the two attended MIT together. Alghunaim was previously an engineer at Palantir and helped launch Tarjimly, a Y Combinator-backed startup aiming to reduce language barriers for refuges while providing access to support services.
Ghulman and Alghunaim co-founded Nash in early 2021, and the company participated in Y Combinator's S21 batch. Impressing investors, evidently, Nash today closed a $20 million Series A round led by Andreesen Horowitz with support from Y Combinator, Rackhouse Venture Capital and "leaders across the tech and supply chain space."
"Today’s newly announced $20 million Series A capital brings our total funding to $27.8 million, as it comes right on the heels of our previously unannounced $7.8 million seed round from late last year, which Andreesen Horowitz also led," Ghulman said. "This funding will be used to double down on hiring in engineering, operations, sales, and other key business functions. We plan to grow our 25-employee headcount by more than 2x to 3x by the end of the year to match our explosive growth."
Using Nash, businesses can choose delivery providers manually or have the platform do it automatically. Either way, they get price and time estimates plus information about the delivery person, including their contact information and location.
Tens of thousands of merchants can access the platform for individual and batched (i.e. multi-pickup) delivery routes through Nash's partnerships, Ghulman claims, reaching up to 94% of the U.S. population in close to 1,000 cities.
To optimize routes, Nash uses AI and machine learning to predict a courier's on-time delivery performance given variables like pickup time, drop-off time, package value, distance and drive time. Nash supports a range of different delivery options, Ghulman says, including scheduled and same-hour deliveries as well as store-to-store deliveries and customer returns.
"What we're doing for delivery is what Stripe has done for payments: we have built a simple API and workflow builder," Ghulman continued. "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."
Image Credits: Nash
The on-demand delivery market, which was always on the capital-intensive side, isn't particularly healthy at the moment, as evidenced by the mass layoffs at delivery startups like Gopuff. Ghulman declined to offer firm numbers on Nash's revenue and customer base, but assured me that Nash hasn't been impacted by the broader slowdown and is "well-positioned" to weather potential headwinds."
"The pandemic brought an unimaginable surge in demand for local delivery across all industries. Many companies couldn't keep up. Some were even forced to shut down. And launching or operating a delivery business was even more challenging than usual due to a reduced workforce," Ghulman said. "By removing the technical, logistical, and operational overhead associated with offering a reliable delivery experience, Nash helped hundreds of businesses access new customers and revenue streams."
As for what's next, Nash plans to further expand into verticals like retail, car parts, pet supplies, catering and meal kits, laundry, flowers, printing and framing, pharma and small parcels. It's also casting its gaze toward new markets, including Canada and the U.K., where Nash plans to launch by the end of the year.