Cache - Tiny automated stores that deliver
Automated vending machines that operate 24/7 on DoorDash and UberEats
Every day I feature a new interesting startup. Today’s featured startup is Cache. Subscribe to my newsletter to read about a new interesting startup every day.
What it does: Cache creates and operates automated convenience stores on DoorDash and UberEats. These stores are powered by vending machines that operate 24/7 and are only accessible to delivery drivers.
How it started: Chris Wu and Jimmy Young started Cache after they both worked at DoorDash. They realized that similarly automated convenience stores such as GoPuff and Dashmart only serve large urban areas and the economics don’t lend themselves to many suburban areas. These facilities can cost up to $1M+ to build-out, and can have labor expenses of $50k+/mo.1 Cache on the other hand only requires a small one-time investment, quick set-up time (1 hour) and very low operational costs.
How it works: Cache places their vending machines (which they call Cache Units) at strategic places in suburban areas and creates digital storefronts on Doordash & Uber Eats. When customers place an order at any given time of the day (or night), drivers come up to the vending machines, grab all the ordered items, and deliver everything to the customer's doorstep.
Traction: Cache has two stores live today:
Sausalito Snackz in Sausalito, CA that sells OTC medicine and snacks.
$5 Ice Cream Pints in South San Francisco, CA that sells ice cream.
Why it’s interesting: Having recently helped my family start two ghost kitchen brands in my hometown of Rotterdam2, I’m particularly excited about Cache. Ghost kitchens have given restaurant entrepreneurs the ability to create multiple brands that operate from the same kitchen, resulting in enormously reduced startup/operational costs for ghost kitchens compared to traditional expensive restaurants. To the consumer, it doesn’t really matter, they’re just ordering something from an app and get it delivered, whether it’s from an actual restaurant or a virtual one. Cache is taking this virtual concept to the extreme by reducing the store front to a machine and avoiding most operational costs altogether. Do consumers care if they get stuff delivered from an automated vending machine versus a regular store? I would think not. This makes Cache a noteworthy low-cost competitor to regular convenience stores that have lots of operational costs. I imagine prepared meals will still be a major challenge to automate so restaurants and kitchens are still kinda safe for now (anyone remember the failed pizza bots?) but there’s lots of consumer packaged products that people will want to have delivered that Cache could prove to be an (indistinguishable) good case for.
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