I quit delivering for apps like DoorDash to build my own 200-driver business. It’s rewarding but tough.

  • Moumita Urias-Roy used to work for delivery services like Amazon Flex and Grubhub. 
  • But in 2019, she and her husband started their own delivery business in Austin, Texas.
  • They pay drivers more than larger apps but say it’s been challenging to compete with those companies.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Moumita Urias-Roy, a former delivery worker in Austin. In 2019, Urias-Roy and her husband started URATX, a delivery service based in Austin that uses independent contractors for large food deliveries, such as catering orders.

Business Insider has verified Urias-Roy’s identity. The story has been edited for length and clarity.

My very first gig worker platform was actually Postmates back in 2016. I had moved to Austin from Canada, and I couldn’t find work that interested me or that I was qualified for.

On my very first order, I messed it up so badly that the customer never even got it. It still haunts me to this day.

I then tried working for Amazon Flex, DoorDash and other apps over time. The money used to be really, really good because not many people were doing this. My husband had a full-time job, and I was working a fraction of that and making more than him, which annoyed him a lot. Eventually, we both went into gig work full-time. Every platform you can imagine, we’ve been on it.

One of our favorite stores to deliver for was HEB. The problem these stores had was that they were getting a lot of business orders, but drivers weren’t equipped to handle it. They were big: I delivered up to 20 24-pack cases of water. One company only ordered snacks, water, and sodas for their break rooms.

Well, I went and got equipment like my own carts and bags. The stores absolutely adored us because they could send us out with $3,000 worth of merchandise and know it actually got to their client.

We also got into delivering catering orders. Once, I delivered $1,700 worth of pizza during SXSW through a small food ordering service in Austin. They had just started working with a new company that provided delivery drivers, but someone at the ordering service said those drivers weren’t really equipped to deliver big orders. We kept in touch, and eventually, they offered me a “vendorship.” That basically allowed me to start a delivery business instead of working as a contractor for the big apps or local delivery services.

In a span of two weeks, I set up the company. I pulled three to four other drivers that we knew from doing gig work. If a company that wasn’t doing a good job delivering $3,000 orders fell through on handling them, they could call us as backup to actually get them delivered. And then, a few months in, we got exclusivity to run all the VIP orders from that point forward. To this day, I still have that partnership.

We topped out last year size-wise with 200 drivers. It’s lower now though because we recently lost our biggest partnership with a major catering delivery company. We were told that we were “too small,” and they ended up going with the big national delivery providers. Today, we’re in Texas and Arizona.

Most of our drivers are part-time and work for other delivery apps. My base pay for every driver, every order, is $22.50. I don’t care if it’s one item or 10, it’s $22.50 per order. On average, our drivers make $25 to $30 per order. We mostly do orders that are pre-scheduled at least a day in advance.

Drivers don’t get that Russian roulette with us that you see elsewhere, where you have to hope there’s a good tip at the end of the order.

And so the best thing about it is that I don’t have drivers confronting restaurants about tips, I don’t have drivers confronting clients begging for tips. They’re professional, respectful, and they have pride in what they do. They can treat every customer the same. Even today, despite all our struggles, we’re still doing that.

I have drivers who are still here after five years. Our churn is extremely low, and I’m thankful for that.

But bigger companies have more resources than A restaurant asked me: “Can you do free catering deliveries for us as a trial?” I replied: “I’m not DoorDash. I don’t want to use investor money to give you free services to decide. But guess what? If you use us, you have my phone number, you can call me and talk to me about it, and if there’s a problem, I’ll make it right.”

I make sure the buck stops with me. There’s no shareholders, there’s no board of directors, there’s no CEO to fire. It’s just me and my husband. That’s the thing you get with small businesses that you’re not going to get with other entities and corporations: You’re not going to have that accountability at the end of the day.

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