Rush wants to change the way South Africans move their stuff from A to B

Powered by WeChat, Rush is a new platform that’s looking to forever change the way South Africans move stuff their from A to B. Launching today, the Rush app lets you compare a number of couriers, their prices and service delivery, in real-time.

“A combination of an Uber and,” the startup’s CEO, Glenn Whittaker, likes to refer to the startup as. By aggregating numerous courier services, Rush enables users to choose their preferred brand based on reputation, price or delivery time.

So far, the startup has boarded a handful of couriers such as Courier  ITThe Courier GuyGlobeflight, RTT and SkyNet, which collectively reach 21 000 postal codes in South Africa. It even partnered recently with Road Trip, which is a driving service that transports you home safely in your car when you’re not able to.

Whittaker, who was South Africa’s number one squash player for seven years, also comes from a promotional background, importing products from China. Currently based in Johannesburg, he tells Ventureburn that he’s been working on this aggregated courier idea for over the last year:

My frustration, coming from the logistics industry, was that you order something online from one of the big guys, and you don’t have a choice to decide when you want this parcel delivered. It comes within the next three to four days. But if I’m leaving overseas tomorrow night and I bought a neck pillow. I want it before I go. On Rush you can choose to receive it either today or the next.

Read more: Ventureburn chats with Simon Hartley on WumDrop’s R1m-plus investment [Q&A]

The answer for the sportsman-turned-entrepreneur laid in tech. Before he knew it, he ended up buying the Rush name from a guy who owned a yacht named Rush. “I really wanted the name, and I went after it,” he says, noting that he was a little inspired by Uber’s delivery service in New York called UberRush.

“The Rush app is going to transform the way that couriers do business in South Africa. No more sitting in traffic and waiting in queues to deliver a parcel. Rush offers a door-to-door service at a fraction of the cost,” the company adds.

But while the tech has its advantages, Whittaker believes it also has its limits.

“[Rush is] trying to use technology to do as much as it can for us. But when you place a high-value item, you want to know where it is. If it hasn’t been delivered by five o’ clock, you want to know where that parcel is,” he says, adding that Rush therefore set up a dedicated call centre in Johannesburg.

“If you are stressed, or you don’t trust the tech, we liaise directly with the couriers and take the pressure off,” he continues. “Although you can track and trace [your parcel] on the app, people still want to talk to a human voice at the end of the day.”

The CEO stresses that this kind of customer service is crucial for Rush to build a reputable brand:

We manage the couriers on your behalf. It’s a very complex industry, [traditional couriers] are not yet as technologically advanced as we would like, so we understand that there’s a role for Rush to play.

Asked how much of a competition the likes of Wumdrop or Picup are, the entrepreneur confidently points out that those kind of on-demand services are limited to do deliveries within cities only; Johannesburg and Cape Town.“Our system can take a parcel from Joburg and deliver it in Pofadder, and we’ll give you delivery and price options,” he says. “That’s not to say that we can’t collaborate with them in the future.”

Whittaker adds that Rush can handle different volumes, whether that be one or 10 000 parcels.

Rush for Business, which you can sign up for on your desktop, would be open to people moving over 200 parcels. The startup is also working on an API to integrate with online shops.

Launching exclusively on WeChat for the first three months, Rush is giving customers R150 off their first delivery when they download WeChat and follow the Rush Official Account. WeChat Africa has this year been boosting its platform to be much more service-oriented, becoming the launchpad for the likes of Money for Jam, Picup, GoBeauty and OrderIn, which recently joined.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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