Cargo turns an Uber drive into an in-car convenience store

A new start-up is allowing some Uber users to kill two birds with one stone: Hailing a ride while checking off their shopping lists.

Cargo, a convenience store on the go, is giving Uber drivers the ability to sell items like snacks, beauty products and phone chargers from a console box located in the center of the vehicle. The company currently is active in nine cities, including New York, Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Through a partnership with Grab, Cargo currently has over 7,000 boxes on the road and is live in nine cities in the U.S. as well as internationally.

In a few cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, drivers are able to pick up Cargo at Uber’s Greenlight Hubs, where car operators come for on-boarding and personalized help. For its part, Uber hopes that the console, which is free for drivers to use, will help them earn extra income.

The company, founded by CEO Jeff Cripe and Jasper Wheeler in 2016, raised their initial seed round, $1.75 million through Techstars. This year, Cargo raised an additional $5.5 million from CRCM Ventures and eighteen94 capital, part of Kellogg’s venture capital fund.

In an interview, Cripe compared his product to Boingo — which provides Internet service at airports — and Panasonic Avionics, which allows video streaming on airplanes.

And much like startups who disrupted airplane service delivery, Cargo hopes to achieve the same for cars, especially as the industry prepares for a driverless future. For now, the company sees itself as a provider of food, but in the future expects to branch out to entertainment and beyond.

“You look at the airline industry and you think back to your last flight and you realize, ‘Wow, there was a big multi billion dollar company that provided me with all the snacking and beverage services on that flight.” Cripe told CNBC.

“All these things provide comfort, productivity and entertainment,” he added. “It’s really things that passengers want and opt into because they’re a passive audience.”

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