The Philadelphia-based delivery service goPuff is now available in Newark, Delaware in an unusual move for the growing startup.
The company, founded by Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola as undergraduates, started off in 2013 delivering late-night snacks and supplies to students on Drexel University’s West Philadelphia campus.
Now the service operates in 17 major markets, including Chicago, Boston, and New York City. Unlike other app-based delivery services, such as Caviar or Grubhub, goPuff stocks its own inventory of 3,000 products, ranging from alcohol and smoking supplies to snacks and over-the-counter drugs.
Other than State College, Pennsylvania, Newark is the only college town served by the app. The city of 33,000, which is dominated by the University of Delaware, is now the smallest market served by the company.
“It’s not typical for us to expand to markets so small,” Illishayev said on the move.
The company usually selects new markets based on a scoring system that measures factors like population, demographics, density, and the ability to get a liquor license. Newark scored relatively low, Illishayev said, but it had the most demand for the service of almost anywhere in the country.
The company had received numerous tweets and phone calls requesting that the company operate in Newark.
“You’d be surprised by the number of people that still call to ask for this service,” Illishayev said.
The move was also backed by metrics. In March, prior to the launch, the Newark zip code was entered into the app tens of thousands of times.
The day that @gopuff comes to Newark….. The world may never know.
— Gavi Kaufmann (@ItzGavGav) February 25, 2016
@gopuff I’m in Newark DE, and I did order mine from GoPuff. I’m just not in the On Demand zone 🙁
— Nandish Pathak (@Wompa_Stompa) July 12, 2014
While the move differs from goPuff’s other expansions, Illishayev said he sees the move to Newark as a return to the company’s roots.
“It’s really about solidifying the brand and understanding who we are,” Illishayev said. “We’ll never market to people outside of our core. We’ll always be marketing to millennials.”
“If anyone else wants to use the app, then we’re thankful for it obviously,” he added. “But I’m not going to start advertising to senior citizens and families.”