This week, 352 hosted Marc Gorlin, CEO of Roadie, as he shared his founder story and approach to growth through an Off the Record conversation. Marc is a seasoned entrepreneur who built his career through the startup community, including co-founding Kabbage. Kacie Lett Gordon, SVP of Strategy at 352, moderated a compelling conversation about the origin and rapid growth of Roadie, his approach to meeting customers’ growing delivery needs, and the importance of experimentation over perfection, including:

Relatable Storytelling Can Reveal Addressable Market Size

Marc shared with us his original idea for Roadie – what is now a scalable delivery service that reaches 89% of all U.S. households – all started with his frustration of not being able to receive tiles in a timely manner in his rural home, knowing that there was extra capacity in every car driving through the area. Marc went on to say that he loves telling this story so much because it’s relatable and almost everyone has their own version of a “tile story.” By investing the time to hear numerous “tile story” variations, Marc and his team were able to estimate the size of their addressable market, and its desirability for a service like Roadie.

New Ideas Can Require Alternative Growth Strategies

Marc and his team understood early on that they wanted to leverage an “on-the-way delivery” business model, which is unique from competitors in the space, like Uber. Thus, the traditional playbook of gaining traction in major metropolitan areas, wasn’t an exact fit for what they were trying to achieve. Instead, the Roadie team focused on starting with airlines and big customers, but in small markets, to test and drive the demand of their delivery services. This forced them to think through problems quickly to meet the needs of enterprise customers like Delta and The Home Depot.

Partner Well and Start Small

From the very beginning, Marc shared that he knew the success of Roadie was dependent on serving the needs of enterprise customers. He advised that for any small company, especially a startup, they had to find internal champions, and be willing to create small low-risk trials in less than desirable markets to prove that their services worked. Marc’s formula for success with big businesses is simple:

  • Find the person with juice
  • Find the people who care (hopefully the same as those with juice)
  • Prove yourself in a small way that can be scaled fast

Over time, Marc and his team were able to gain the trust of major airlines by creating the right relationships and demonstrating repeatable success in larger markets. Soon enough, other big brands discovered how Roadie could also help them and they continued to scale.

Meet Your Customers Where They Are

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has created massive behavior shifts for consumers, some of which will last after the pandemic is over. Marc’s prediction is that the necessity of providing customers with multiple same day delivery options is here to stay for any business that provides customers with tangible products. “People might not want the same delivery options in the future because of the virus, but because they want to spend their time in a different way,” he said. Marc also cautioned that any retailer or business who doesn’t provide this heightened level of deliverability or curbside pick-up options will be left behind by the companies that do.

Check out these resources to learn more:

Please join us next week on May 12th at 9AM for our Off the Record with Hemang Dave, Chief Architect & CTO at IBM. You can RSVP today.


352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.