CONSIDER for a minute how much space inside cars is wasted as single occupant vehicles travel from A to B chewing up valuable fuel.
What if just a fraction of this space could be utilised to move people's parcels from A to B?
The driver can be paid for their service and the client can save dollars by avoiding commercial rates of delivery.
This is the premise of meemeep.com, an online start-up based in Melbourne with consumer-driven tentacles rapidly spreading across the nation.
The name is meant to sound like the Road Runner's famously annoying catchcry.
As at the start of April, MeeMeep had completed 300 jobs and already some people were looking to the service as a source of not only petrol money, but regular income.
Some removalists and traditional transport companies are jumping on board to help backfill their three-quarter loads.
From the delivery of Christmas presents, eBay pick-up only items, beds, fridges - even the odd office lunch - MeeMeep has been shaking up the traditional courier model.
Here's how it works:
People register online at MeeMeep.com to join the movement and the network connects people who are on the move (Movers) with those who need stuff moved (Shakers).
An introduction is given online, a fee negotiated between the two parties, and the goods are delivered.
In some cases, several movers bid on the same job so the mover can choose the cheapest or preferred mover.
For example, a commuter who travels to Coffs Harbour from Grafton five times a week could get connected to a bearing supplier who regularly needs bearings to be delivered to Coffs.
The supplier gets in touch with the commuter, together they work out a reasonable delivery fee, and the commuter becomes a courier-on-the-side.
Founding members George Mackey and Will, Rob and Jodie Emmett created the business after Rob had a lightbulb moment while stuck in traffic one day.
"I was watching empty cars and vans going back and forth, and I thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could harness all that commuter movement for good use? What's stopping us from connecting the physical power of people with the digital power of the internet?'," he said.
Given the rapid growth of the business, it is clear that the online community agrees with Mr Emmett's sentiments.
"There is a huge market out there for pick-up only items from sites like eBay, Trading Post and Gumtree ... MeeMeep is a very attractive proposition to people who have one-off items to move and don't have enough stuff to fill a removals truck," he said
Being involved in a new start-up has been exciting and challenging at the same time, said MeeMeep's director of marketing and strategy Will Emmett.
"Some of the bigger challenges have been operational - creating a great user experience on the website, as well as building trust, safety and community into everything we do," he said.
"We are learning all the time and the feedback from our community has really driven how we have built the site.
"We are inspired by the fact that MeeMeep is part of something that has the power to change the world in a very significant way."
People who have "meeped" stuff
MURRAY is a young guy who operates in his own building company.
He travels around a lot and often has room in his ute for extra items. Murray joined MeeMeep in December 2011 and has been actively moving jobs since then. I
n that time he has undertaken six jobs and earned more than $500.
Blane is a bike courier who runs his own cargo courier business called Cargone in the Melbourne CBD.
Blane has completed 10 jobs with MeeMeep since joining in December last year and has earned $250 extra money from MeeMeep jobs.
Melanie runs a vintage and antique furniture shop in Lorne's main street and joined MeeMeep because she needed a large cabinet moved from Melbourne to Sydney.
A MeeMeep mover was able to deliver it for $300 and the closest quote she got was for $475.
Judy needed a single bed and mattress moved from Sunbury to Melton and got it meeped for $60 by Vladz who happened to be heading that way anyway.
The nearest quote she got was $120.
Christine bought an antique mirror on eBay and had no way of picking it up until she posted the mirror to move on meemeep.com.
She managed to get the mirror meeped from Sydney to Melbourne for $160, and the closest quote she got was for $280.
Charlie left his wetsuit at a friend's house and got it meeped up the coast within two hours by Emma for $50 - just in time for plane for his surfing trip to Bali.
MeeMeep Demographic summary
- 25-49yo professionals, time-poor, digitally savvy, social network proficient
- Likely to be frequent users of Skype, Ninemsn and auction services such as eBay
- Prefer mobile phone applications for conducting their online activities
- 18-24 yo students and 45+ under-employed looking to supplement their income
- Frequent users of Facebook, Skype and Ninemsn
- Motivated by earning money for an activity they are already doing
- appreciate the environmental angle
700 members (60% Movers, 40% shakers)
300 jobs completed
1600+ Facebook friends
2000+ Twitter followers