Pick-Ups with Potato Chips: Rideshare Snack Company Seeks to Expand

By: Bridget Clerkin February 14, 2018
Cargo—a company that provides Uber drivers with snacks to sell in their cars—is attracting venture capital funding from eager investors.
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It’s hard out there for an Uber driver.

Perhaps that’s why so many are willing to sell snacks and other small essentials to their riders for a little extra dough.

The idea has undoubtedly been employed by more entrepreneurial types for years, but now even drivers who would flunk Business 101 can make a profit off of the practice thanks to a New York company called Cargo and its new-age snack packs.

The concept, which is quickly gaining popularity (and vacuuming up millions of dollars in venture capital funding), turns Uber cars into tiny convenience stores, with drivers receiving boxes full of gum, aspirin, snacks, and other small on-the-go items to sell to passengers.

The digital transaction can be executed right from the passenger’s smartphone: riders interested in an item go to a Cargo URL, enter the vehicle’s specific code, and complete their purchase online using a credit card or Apple Pay.

Drivers sign up for free and get compensated for each purchase—25% of each transactional total plus a base pay of $1 per order. New items are delivered—also free—automatically on an as-needed basis.

The concept may be all about grazing, but the core of the idea is more about farming—for data. 

Companies pay Cargo for product placement privileges in the box, but what they get for the investment is much more than the movement of units. Each brand receives demographic information about who’s buying their product, when, and where, thanks to the car-specific ID linked to each purchase.

The data is so valuable to the businesses that many are willing to offer their products at no cost to customers. It’s also popular with the investor class, who so far have poured more than $5.5 million into Cargo’s coffers to help launch the idea nationwide. Currently, the operation has about 20,000 cars targeted to release their product in six different cities over the next six months. Reportedly, their next goal is to get their goods into 100,000 rideshare vehicles.

As legendary punk rock group Dead Kennedys once declared, “Give me convenience, or give me death!”

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