If there was ever a time when fast and no-contact delivery was needed, a global pandemic would definitely hit the mark. However, when UCLA students, Brian Le and David Lin, imagined Duffl, “the fastest delivery service in the world,” they did not know how notable this idea would actually be.
Duffl launched back in 2019 and is already UCLA’s favorite delivery service, allowing students to receive their snacks and drinks within minutes of ordering.
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The concept was born serendipitously. Le and Lin had not even known of each other when they were both building one half of an ingenious company. Le, an electrical engineering major, used his circuitry experience to supercharge the batteries on the Xiaomi scooters, making them twice as fast. Whereas Lin, an economics major, had been developing a scrappy online store for students to order delivery from. When they met, Brian was trying to sell his fleet of scooters and David pitched to him, “why wait for Prime Air for 5-minute deliveries when we can do it now?” The rest was history.
Only six months after launch, the company had earned $33,000 in monthly revenue. It’s delivery couriers, or “Racers,” can make upwards of 20 deliveries per hour. That’s an order of magnitude more efficient than other existing delivery services like Postmates and UberEats. And since Duffl only employs students who are closely familiar with UCLA’s campus, goods can be delivered to an exact location; whether that’s a dorm room, library, or even in the middle of Janss Steps.
In the United States, college students make over 500 million trips to the convenience store every year, and Le and Lin both have tapped into the secret of this industry.
“We believe the secret to the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient delivery experience is proximity and we’ve been able to get closer than anyone else in this space through our unique application of data-driven logistics,” said Lin.
Currently, Duffl is going upwards of $80,000 a month in sales and growing 55 percent month over month since the COVID pandemic at a 30 percent net margin. In a world where classes are remote, and even stepping out from one’s home is met with the threat of a virus, students are inclined to get their favorite snacks without having to step into a grocery store themselves. And using another delivery service for one or two items is more costly than it’s worth.
As for Duffl’s future agenda, Lin and Le want to focus on college campuses and a curated selection of top products with 10-minute delivery. They are building exceptional customer service at low prices. Eventually, Duffl will expand to other schools, but first, they want to perfect their model across the UCLA campus.
Le and Lin both believe that the future of convenience is instant gratification, and they are building the world’s most convenient store.