Requesting friends to get you stuff when they travel to the US, or to a common hometown, has been a popular practice. It could be anything from a latest camera, which is cheaper in the US, but Amazon wouldn’t deliver to India, or homemade (read grandma-made) besan-ke-laddu, for instance. Friends have come in useful in many such scenarios. Often times you ask friends to ask their friends/colleagues, if someone is returning from an onsite trip and request them to bring an item that you wanted to purchase from foreign shores.
Jib.li attempts to make these kinds of shipments organized and social, and by making use of travelers’ unused baggage allowance. Instead of asking around your friends personally, Jib.li lets you make use of social networks, only Facebook as of now, to find out people in your
circles lists who are traveling to a place where you want to get something delivered to or from. These transactions between people already exist, Jib.li is providing efficient and secure mechanism to carry them out.
The model is similar to Airbnb, where people rent out their empty homes to those who seek temporary accommodation, but either do not get a hotel booking, or find them out of budget. Jib.li also uses a similar concept here. The way Airbnb is people-to-people, and doesn’t list any professional hotels/inns/BnBs on its portal, Jib.li wouldn’t use the services of professional courier companies.
You may charge for a package that you carry for someone, and they may benefit because it is cheaper than the normal FedEx or Blue Dart. A win-win situation. You pay on the platform in a secure manner, and the money is paid on delivery.
Two of the founders, who are Algerians and study in Paris, noticed that every time they did the trip, somebody asked them to carry food, medical stuff, books, apparels, and other simple things. Every time they missed ‘grandmother cakes’ they would check in their social media if there is somebody who is traveling soon and can carry them. That is where they realized this opportunity and a place for a dedicated tool.
Jib.li was founded by a bunch of young, Mediterranean entrepreneurs living in France, Ryadh Dahimene and Chakib Benziane from Algeria, and Frédéric Simons and Guillaume Cayard from France.
Here is an exclusive conversation with Ryadh:
Do you think you’ll have issues with the customs department at every country’s point of entry? How are you planning to deal with them?
Actually our position is more like an Airbnb of unused space luggage. We do not share responsibility in the transaction level. Users have to check what they are carrying, as always. The thing is that in a lot of countries, those kind of transaction are already happening, that’s why we are not really scared. Also, don’t focus only on flight transportation, there is also trains, cars, buses, bikes and even camels :). Finally, don’t forget what we call domestic tourism: people traveling inside their own countries (happens a lot in large countries like the USA).
How would you convince strangers to bring stuff for others?
We are powered by social networks (Facebook) so we empower the social graph. At the beginning it’s easy to carry something for a direct or indirect friend of you. Once you are familiar with the model you can take it to the next level. Again, think of Airbnb, people are renting a bed in their own houses to strangers. I think it will be easier to convince people to share some space luggage. We provide also a trust model where you can rank users against some strategic criteria.
How do you plan to generate revenue?
The business model is very simple; If you choose to carry something for free, everything is free on the website. If you charge an amount of money for your work, there’s a per transaction fee for the platform.
When is jib.li launching open to public? In which all countries will it launch initially?
The service will be available worldwide in English since the beginning. However, we will add support for different languages based on the per country stats.
Here is an introductory video about Jib.li. (It is in French, but has English subtitles on.)
In private beta now, Jib.li is scheduled to release worldwide soon, in English. What do you think? Would Indians mind using such a service? Is there scope for something more customized?