By Riley Kaminer
A can of Coke here. A honey bun there. Take a moment to consider the humble convenience store. A staple of American life, but often an afterthought. A means to an end – not a destination in and of itself.
One way that convenience stores aren’t so humble: by 2025, Americans are projected to spend half a trillion (yes, trillion) dollars at convenience stores. Globally, the convenience store market already surpasses $2 trillion.
This market size is not lost on John Nelson, the CEO and co-founder of Vroom Delivery. The startup, which was founded in Chicago in 2018, has developed an eCommerce platform for convenience stores.
Nelson is a serial entrepreneur, having first dipped his toes into the world of entrepreneurship in college when he started a tutoring company with his roommate, Brian Armstrong, who would go on to co-found crypto platform Coinbase.
Nelson spent a stint working in finance in London and doing an MBA at the University of Chicago, on top of his entrepreneurial pursuits. But Vroom Delivery brought Nelson back to his roots, as his family owns a series of convenience stores. The origins of the company stem from convenience store owners’ frustrations that there was no platform flexible enough to deal with all the diverse needs of these stores: from managing restaurants to keeping track of thousands of CPG items to dealing with age-restricted items.
“We started building a product for mom and pop stores throughout the Midwest,” Nelson told Refresh Miami. Since then, the platform has expanded significantly, now being used by 4,000 stores in over 30 states.
Vroom’s platform is not a marketplace. Rather, it is the proprietary software that convenience stores use to Sell and market all of their in-store products online for home delivery, in-store pickup, curbside pickup, drive-thru, and catering. Convenience stores can deliver these items themselves, through Vroom’s network of partners, or a mix of the two.
The startup reports that the average order size on Vroom is $44, which is five times larger than the average in-store purchase. Nelson also underscored the ease of use of Vroom’s platform. “Once we’re plugged in, we can just flip the switch and get convenience stores online – whether a chain has five or 500 stores.” He noted that this scale is achieved by the automation that is inherent to Vroom’s platform, as well as the fact that Vroom is easy to integrate with third-party services.
Earlier this year, Nelson relocated to Miami – drawn here by our city’s status as an international hub. (The warm winters also didn’t hurt.)
“Miami’s tech ecosystem is very vibrant and very diverse,” said Nelson. “I’m very much still learning about it, but I’ve definitely been impressed by the meetups I’ve attended so far.”
Nelson and his 10-person, distributed team are also optimistic about the role Miami can play in Vroom’s growth. They expect Vroom to expand to serve over 6,000 stores by the end of the year, all while continuing to develop Vroom’s product along the way.
READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI:
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