Alum, student collaborate on online Florida delivery service
One Dartmouth student and an alumnus are working together to help their neighbors during the COVID-19 outbreak. Connor Davis ’22 and Dan Richman ’95 have developed a web service that aims to provide a contactless delivery service in their area.
The pair said that the service, called Fetch352, will launch within the next 30 days in Gainesville and Ocala, Fla., where Davis and Richman live.
The web service, named after the area code for their region of Florida, allows customers to request items to be delivered from up to four locations at a time. After the driver has retrieved the items, he or she will leave the delivery at the specified destination and send a picture to the recipient to verify the delivery, keeping the transaction completely contactless to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
While courier services for businesses and food delivery services like GrubHub and Uber Eats already exist, Davis and Richman said that Fetch352 addresses a previously unfulfilled need for generic, contactless pickup and drop-off of any item, like laundry or keys, between any two or three locations. Davis noted that the app might be of particular use for older individuals or other people at high-risk.
The service’s website notes that the minimum charge is $30 and includes up to 2 stops, not including the final delivery, with a third stop costing an additional $10.
The initial idea for the service came from Sean Walsh, an old friend of Richman who is running operations for Fetch352.
“I’d throw out ideas all the time,” Walsh said. “We joke that every once in a while, I’ve got a good one.” Richman added that pursuing new business ideas can be like “throwing spaghetti at a wall.”
After Walsh’s initial idea, Richman developed the more detailed concept — a system that would match a request with a driver, who would then log his or her delivery stops and automatically charge customers once their products were delivered.
Richman then reached out to Davis, a computer science major, who he knew well because he had attended high school with Davis’s mother.
“I’ve done work for [Richman] since I was younger, like yard work or doing landscaping,” Davis said. “And then as I got older and started getting into the field of computer science and studying it, he started giving me more [information technology] work, so there was kind of a natural transition when he had this idea.”
Davis, Richman and Walsh said that they are currently in the final stages of developing Fetch352.
“We’re ready to go,” Walsh said. “We have drivers who’ve done some trial runs and there [are] no glitches, so we’re good. We’re just wanting it to be a brand, a product to put out as we advertise it.”
Walsh said that he, Davis and Richman are finalizing some details, specifically related to the company “look.” He said that they are revising the logo and making customized, reusable Fetch352 tote bags for delivery items.
Although Fetch352 will initially only be available in the Gainesville and Ocala area, Davis said that he and Richman hope to lease the technology to other cities interested in implementing a similar service. Right now, they are looking into the possibility of expanding into other cities in which Richman has business connections, including Charlotte, N.C. and Tucson, Ariz.
Richman added that he believes Fetch352’s business model will remain viable after the pandemic is over. He expects that people will choose to continue working from home after the pandemic and will use services like Fetch352 to transport any essentials between their homes and offices.
Additionally, Richman said that he thought working on Fetch352 would be a good experience for Davis to learn about the process of developing a web service for a real market.
“[Davis] is a [computer science] guy, so I’m taking him under my wing a little bit and showing him some real-world stuff,” he said.
Davis said that although he has worked on developing apps for personal projects and even has one on the Apple App Store, building a web service from scratch has been “very valuable” and is “giving [him] insight and some good experience” in the field.
“I think it’s a great example of the Dartmouth network in effect,” he said. “I think it’s cool that I live in a relatively small town, in Ocala, Fla., and I still am within short driving distance of a Dartmouth alum and we’re collaborating on something. I think it just goes to show you what the Dartmouth network has.”