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Curbside Powers Same-Day Pickup at Target, Raises $8 Million

Curbside is betting that people will want free same-day drive-by and in-store pickups.

I want it and I want it now” might be the modern mantra of smartphone-enabled commerce in the instant gratification economy. But what about “I want it and I’ll swing by the store after work and they’ll have my order ready for me.”

That’s the premise of Curbside, a startup that’s officially launching today with significant funding and a beta test with 10 San Francisco Bay Area Target stores.

Curbside is betting that people will find it more convenient to fit free same-day drive-by and in-store pickups into their lives — rather than paying extra and being home at the right time to receive same-day deliveries.

And that pitch has already worked on venture capitalists, with Index Ventures leading an $8 million Series A round for a total of $9.5 million in funding. Other backers include AME Cloud Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Chicago Ventures, TenOneTen, WGI Group, Sue Decker and Carl Pascarella.

Retailers like Target are signing up because Curbside appeals to their competitive advantage, said co-founder and CEO Jaron Waldman. “For retailers, the business of shipping stuff to your house is not necessarily where you’re going to win. It’s very hard to compete against Amazon in their core competency. But [curbside pickup] is definitely something Amazon can’t immediately offer.”

Under Curbside’s current business model, retailers pay Curbside a customer acquisition fee. Customers pay neither a pickup fee nor a markup on their items.

Waldman was previously at Apple working on the company’s location tools after it acquired his startup Placebase. Curbside already employs 18 people in Palo Alto, Calif.

Waldman’s main investor, Mike Volpi of Index, argued that Curbside is also friendlier to retailers than services like Google Shopping Express and Instacart. “A lot of these other approaches disintermediate the retailer and treat them like a warehouse,” he said.

And also, Volpi said, e-commerce is exploding so fast that there’s room for multiple more convenient ways to get people and the stuff they’ve bought in the same place.

“I don’t believe that for the foreseeable future people are going to use this exclusively,” Volpi said. “But this particular approach is very aligned with a lot of consumer behavior today and relatively positive for the retailer.”

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