Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, both 23, two former Drexel University students who co-founded the 24-hour online delivery service goPuff were named Tuesday on Forbes' 30 Under 30 2017 list in the "Retail & Ecommerce" category.
"We found out in the morning," Ilishayev said late Tuesday night. "This is great. Now back to work. This is a collective win. The real prize is growing and becoming the biggest online on demand delivery service."
The Center City-based goPuff, which runs on apps and is executed by an army of contracted drivers, is now in 13 major U.S. cities. It launched in the city of Philadelphia about three years ago and grew rapidly. It expanded to the Philadelphia suburbs last summer and just began operations in State College to service Penn State students two weeks ago, and Tucson, Ariz., last month.
GoPuff begins making deliveries in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Oh., next week and Minneapolis, Minn., at the end of the month.
That's the convergence behind goPuff: a Wawa on wheels, one that can deliver whatever you need: ice cream, chips, batteries, or even beer. The company operates from noon to 4:30 a.m. in most markets and charges a flat $1.95 delivery charge, which is waived for orders over $49, with zero surcharges. It warehouses up to 3,000 products.
In an interview in June 2016, Ilishayev said sales had risen 25 percent to 30 percent each month since launching in early 2014. He said May 2016 sales were 10 times what they were in May 2015. Millennials are the targeted demographic, with 25 to 26 years as the average age of those using the service.
"The approach we take is that we are creating a new (retail) space," Ilishayev said. "This is Convenience 2.0."
In its sixth year, the Forbes "30 Under 30" list features 600 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders "who are challenging the conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation," according to the magazine. The list includes 30 honorees for each of the 20 categories and vetted by a panel of judges in their respective fields.