BUCKTOWN —After hearing about mail woes in Bucktown and Wicker Park, a team of business students decided to find a solution that would prevent packages from getting ripped off.
Five part-time students of Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management came up with DropSpot, which pairs people looking to pick up their packages with local businesses willing to receive them and keep them safe until pickup.
The idea, part of a New Venture Discovery class, has been in the works for about two months and is in testing phase with a couple of customers and a few partnering businesses in Wicker Park and Bucktown, the team's test market.
Emily Morris chats with DNAinfo Radio about the Kellogg Business School students' project:
One of the students, Adam Bryan, 30, said his sister alerted him to all of the problems her Bucktown neighbors were having.
Mail horror stories include one resident who said he had a package apparently hurled through his window in Ukrainian Village, a West Town neighbor who said her mail has been delivered as late as 9:30 p.m. and others who anxiously made trips to the Wicker Park Carrier Annex in an attempt to find late packages without much luck.
"We went on the Bucktown Facebook page and saw that there were dozens and dozens of people talking about this very issue," team member Zach Carusona, 27, said, referring to a Facebook group for neighbors.
Then, Carusona said, they went door-to-door in Bucktown and found that a number of local businesses were receptive to the idea of receiving neighbors' packages for them as a way to increase foot traffic.
They've so far partnered with Go Grocer at 2060 W. North Ave.; Bucktown Market at 1758 W. Wabansia Ave.; and North Avenue Animal Hospital at 1901 W. North Ave., among others.
It's also a fix Carusona noticed people were informally using themselves, like having a package delivered to the dry cleaners next door rather than to their own apartments.
Though there are a few similar solutions being used internationally as well as such options as Amazon Lockers, this effort is unique in that it specifically focuses on Chicago's local businesses, Carusona and Bryan said.
For customers, it means they can pick up their packages near their homes and on their own time, the groups said. With most local businesses around to receive mail from at least 9 a.m.-5 p.m., neighbors don't have to worry about packages been dropped off on their doorstep while they're away.
"It takes a lot of the guesswork and ambiguity out of receiving packages," said Bryan, a Loop resident.
For businesses, the deal connects them with more possible customers and brings neighbors into the store, Bryan said.
The group hopes to eventually have a mobile app and a website that would alert customers when their packages are ready for pickup.
The pricing plan is still in development, Bryan said, but the startup would likely charge $1-$4 for a customer looking to pick up a package. DropSpot isn't yet ready for widespread use, but those interested in checking it out can email DropSpotChicago@gmail.com.
The team, made up of Bryan and Carusona along with Tyler Veit, Jacob Katz and Andy Meyer, will soon pitch the idea to potential investors, Bryan said.
Then the group is looking to potentially expand to other neighborhoods, like Lincoln Park or Lakeview, said Carusona, who lives in Lakeview.
"We are working on it as quickly as possible," he said.