Get a free protein bar or Altoids in your Uber with new startup Cargo

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Get some Altoids in your Uber.
Image: cargo

Anyone who’s been stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in an Uber probably could have used a pair of headphones or an Altoid at some point.

Cargo is a new startup that promises to provide those random items you’d be happy to have mid-ride and, more importantly, offer another source of income for ride-hailing drivers.

Cargo partners with brands to put candy, protein bars, tampons, and condoms in a case that sits within reach of passengers. The case comes with a code unique to each driver, which passengers use to record what they took during the ride.

A lot of the items cost a dollar or two, but others are free for the taking. And drivers get a bit of extra money from Cargo for the things their passengers take, regardless of whether the riders made a purchase or just took something for free. Passengers can even tip their drivers through Cargo, too.

Everything is mobile web-based, so riders don’t have to download an app during the few minutes they’re in an Uber.

Cargo has snagged partnerships with big brands, like the companies behind Skittles or Quest Bars, that are always looking to reach customers in a new way. The company has also made deals with startups like Lola or the cookie brand Michel et Augustin that want their products in front of new consumers.

The menu Uber passengers see when they pull up Cargo on their phones.

Image: cargo

Cargo was founded in 2016 and tested its service in a few states before going national last week.

There’s a whole ecosystem of startups that serve ride-hailing drivers and passengers, besides just the ride-hailing companies themselves. The AI dash cam Nexar, for example, helps drivers prevent accidents, and protect their credibility and livelihoods when accidents do happen. An Australian startup called NewsCar is trying to enlist Uber drivers to help capture and deliver real-time breaking news footage to newsrooms.

The income drivers earn from Cargo is relatively modest about $100 per month, or $300 per month for the most successful drivers but it doesn’t cost them anything to put Cargo’s case of products in their cars.

“Our mission is to help drivers earn more by providing the best ride experience possible,” said CEO Jeff Cripe, who worked on e-commerce at Birchbox and the auction house Christie’s before founding Cargo. “For drivers, it’s an easy decision: Cargo costs nothing, we pre-pack each Cargo kit, ship replenishments to your home, deposit money directly into your bank account, and improve your ratings.”

Passengers, meanwhile, get the perks of having everyday essentials at the ready.

“For passengers, you never have to worry about your phone dying, riding hungover, or suffering through that snack-less midnight ride from the airport,” Cripe said.

Cargo mostly works with Uber, rather than Lyft or other ride-hailing competitors. The startup gives “preferred access” to drivers who sign up using their Uber profiles. If they’re working for other ride-hailing apps at the same time, however, they’ll already have the container of Cargo products in their cars.

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