Dolly – A collaborative marketplace for moving your stuff

Dolly is a Chicago based startup, which at its core aims to be a collaborative marketplace for moving. The company aspires to connect people in cities who need to move their stuff with background verified, interviewed, reviewed and GPS tracked helpers who have large trucks, vans or SUVs. The service is currently available only in Chicago. However, the startup has raised a large seed round and is exploring its expansion opportunities in various other major cities.

Dolly’s primary target market is essentially the millennial young people who live in a city and are just starting to lead an adult lifestyle. It is their first or second job out of college and they have a little bit of discretionary income. These people are hyper mobile and connected with all the different social networks like instagram or snapchat. They regularly use various collaborative marketplace services like Uber, Lyft etc. By trying to understand and solve the problems of this subset of young population, the startup aims to build a strong foundation for the next 10 to 15 years.

The problem Dolly is trying to solve is multi fold. On one hand, the company is trying to eliminate the inefficiencies that plague the current moving industry, while on the other hand trying to reduce the inconveniences people face while moving their stuff. The current moving options that people have like UHaul forces them to go through a series of hoops from renting a truck, loading items, fuelling the truck, picking items up, to returning the truck back to the UHaul station. This leads to tremendous wastage of both time and money for the consumer. Further, the current systems are not optimized, thereby leading to underutilization and eventual wastage of a lot of important resources like trucks and drivers. Dolly attempts to tackle these problems by offering a collaborative marketplace, which connects people who need a moving service more seamlessly to the assets and resources that can get their work done, leading to significant price savings, efficiency savings and gas savings. So I think at its core, Dolly is definitely disrupting the existing moving industry, specifically the micro-moving industry of one off objects, more so than creating a new market. However, one of the major challenges that the company is facing is educating the people and helping them understand that Dolly is an option for their moving woes.

The value proposition that Dolly is offering to its customers can be succinctly described using the phrase ‘Uber meets UHaul’. The startup is still figuring out its exact market positioning. Their current positioning is focused primarily on millenials who understand, use and appreciate the collaborative marketplaces like Uber, AirBnB, Lyft etc. Dolly has been using paid advertising channels,specifically highly targeted facebook advertisements to reach its initial customers. By constantly tracking, tweaking and investing the time required to take advantage of various advanced facebook features, they claim they have been able to successfully generate significant traction for their service. Further, Dolly has been able to raise a ton of good publicity through word of mouth by helping people at key moments in their lives. These stories have spilled out into twitter and resulted in people talking about the product and promoting it organically in web sites like Craigs List. I believe doing marketing right is trying to transcend all social channels and to get people to contribute organically about one’s product. I think Dolly is doing a really great job in those respects.

AJMAL ALI HANEEF,
MS INFORMATION MANAGEMENT CANDIDATE, CLASS OF 2015
INFORMATION SCHOOL, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON
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