Paying $600 to move an apartment’s worth of belongings 1½ miles seemed like a pretty high quote from a Santa Barbara area moving company.
Local Heather Wright debated the decision until a roommate told her about a moving company that offers flexibility and — as it turned out — a much lower rate to complete the four-hour moving job.
Wright looked up NextMover, a Santa Barbara startup using an online marketplace similar to companies like UBER and Lyft to connect customers with local pickup truck owners, who set their own hourly rates.
Soon after, two trucks with friendly drivers got the job done faster than Wright thought possible, for $280.
“It was a great experience,” she told Noozhawk. “It just went smoothly.”
Wright needed movers because she didn’t have a friend with a truck, a mantra NextMover has adopted since co-founders and childhood friends won Startup Weekend Santa Barbara last November and raised $65,000 to get started.
Alex Kehaya and Max James joined forces after Kehaya, a Dunn School teacher, heard a friend complain about a moving experience involving broken belongings and charging more than an original quote.
“Any time I hear a pain like that, a consumer pain, I try to think of a solution,” said Kehaya, who established an entrepreneurial program at Dunn, a private boarding and day school serving grades six through 12 in Santa Ynez.
“Both sides we consider our customers. The network is something critical to our service.”
NextMover logged its first move in January, with pickup owners charging $25 to $50 per hour based on load or size of move. NextMover guarantees all belongings are safe up to $10,000.
Drivers keep 80 percent of profits, and the company gets the other 20 percent.
The co-founders bill NextMover as up to 75 percent cheaper than similar services, and rates set at the start cannot change.
NextMover also caters to college students or those buying items from retail stores, where customers need help transporting large furniture pieces a short distance.
“We’re appealing to people who otherwise would not use the services we offer,” James said.
Customers can book moves with a day’s notice, but Kehaya wants to add same-day soon, along with building his base of 10 local drivers to 20.
Hundreds of pickup truck owners have signed up in 10 major metropolitan areas nationwide. The plan is to raise more funding to expand to two other cities by the fall, depending on which garner the most signups. San Francisco is a leading candidate.
All drivers must pass criminal and general background checks, and vehicles go through personal inspections.
Founders are clearly passionate about the business, and customers can even book Kehaya’s large truck and trailer.
As for whether Wright would recommend NextMover to her friends or use the service again, she said she already has done both.