People living in Isla Vista during the Winter and Spring Quarter of 2021 might have seen a quiet rivalry brewing between Snag and Duffl: two delivery services that both supply a range of grocery products and pride themselves on quick ten-minute or less deliveries via electric scooters.
Duffl, which utilizes orange and white color scheme, was created by UC Los Angeles 3rd year Philosophy major David Lin in 2018. Snag, which is represented as a red and white backpack, was created by UCSB third-year Economics and Accounting major Jacob Duijser and third-year Economics major Mason Cohen.
The goal of both these delivery services is to provide a fast, efficient, sustainable method of grocery shopping. Customers only need to order their groceries off of their phones, and Snag or Duffl will take care of the rest.
Duffl was created by Lin in 2018 and now services several other college campuses. Lin was inspired to create the company after seeing a shipment of Bird electric scooters dropped off near his campus for transportation purposes.
“When I moved to the US. for college, I was going to study economics, but I pivoted towards philosophy and had an existential crisis,” Lin said. “Then I see all these scooters zooming around, and I put two and two together to start delivering.”
After being repeatedly rejected from UCLA’s accelerator program Startup UCLA — a group that funds start-up businesses — Lin and his co-founder Brian Le applied and were accepted into the Y Combinator, a national accelerator program that has funded companies like DoorDash, Airbnb and Instacart.
“We knew this opportunity was kind of life-changing,” Lin said. “Then we went to live in Silicon Valley for three months, worked with a product team of eight and we raised $1.3 million.”
Now, Lin expects to soon raise ten times that number, partly due to the company’s recent expansion into other college towns like Isla Vista. To ensure success at each Duffl location, the owners have created a system so that each store would be run by a student from the nearby school.
“I think what makes us unique is our identity in supporting each branch and making sure that every school is local,” Lin said. “That it is run by people from that school and that it is unique to that school.”
Lin stressed that not only does this new means of grocery shopping provide convenience for the customer, but less trips to the grocery store make the business model more eco-conscious.
“If you have 1,000 people in an area making 1,000 trips to the grocery store, is that really efficient?” Lin asked. “With this new method of shopping you waste no food, no time and save millions of tons of carbon emissions.”
Like Duffl, Snag was created by UC undergraduates who envisioned a more efficient and sustainable delivery service. In October 2020, Duijser and Cohen conceptualized Snag after frustrations with long wait times and costly delivery fees of other platforms used by UCSB students, like Uber Eats or DoorDash.
“We have DoorDash and Grubhub, but they were taking way too long and were way too expensive,” Dujiser said. “We just thought there had to be something better out there.”
After some experimentation, Duijser and Cohen eventually created the Snag app, headquartering their business in the center of Isla Vista. Snag officially began its services in late January 2021 and has since then experienced rapid growth in its customer base.
“We definitely had high expectations for ourselves, but I don’t know if we were expecting this much growth so quickly,” Mason said. “It’s almost like a dream to wake up every day and see all these people being so excited about something we’ve created.”
Snag has also involved themselves in the Isla Vista community by partnering with local foundations and organizations such as Isla Vista SurfRider.
“We just really want everyone to have a hand in Snag,” Dujiser said. “The more people we get involved, the better the company becomes.”
The major success of both companies makes Cohen and Duijser excited for their customers and the future of grocery shopping.
“The people in Isla Vista have access to two services right now that really no other school has,” Cohen said.
“Ultimately, the big winner here is the customers who are really living in the future,” Duijser added.
Great story. With delivery apps I’m curious who supplies their products and what that relationship is. Do I.V. stores supply these groceries? Some of the similar apps named in the story have gotten a reputation for using their massive search-engine optimization advantage to hurt the restaurants they deliver, sometimes killing off the restaurants’ in-house delivery business. What do I.V.’s legacy grocery stores think about all this?