With holiday parties and family meals looming, it's easy to see the appeal of Instacart: you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep in an hour or two, for a delivery charge of as little as $3.99.
And here's the twist: similar to errand services like Task Rabbit or transportation networks like Lyft, just about anyone who can find their way around the produce section can sign up to earn money as a grocery courier for Instacart. The company says that its "personal shoppers" earn an average of $20 an hour, but they're paid based on the number of orders they handle, and the size of those orders. It raises the interesting possibility of pocketing some extra dough by shopping for a few neighbors whenever you visit the store.
"My fridge was always empty," says Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta, right. "I just never had time to go to the grocery store during the day." Mehta previously worked to improve order fulfillment at Amazon, and as an engineer at Qualcomm and RIM. Instacart started in San Francisco, and expanded to Chicago in September; Boston is Instacart's third market. "Our goal is to offer an Amazon-like experience without building any the infrastructure, using crowdsourcing," Mehta says.