Ian Dowden launched his own bike courier service just a few years ago, and is shifting his business focus to adapt to a changing market. In addition to the delivery of legal document, architectural plans and other sensitive paperwork, his company, C.S. Courier, now delivers lunch to downtown workers and picks up recycling from downtown residents.
We recently spoke with Dowden to find out more about his new business ideas and what the future holds for bike courier services across the country.
The Metropreneur: What sort of traditional market still exists for bike courier services and how is that industry changing due to the Internet?
Ian Dowden: The market for bike courier services in major urban areas will continue to grow. Especially since more and more people are moving back to the downtown areas in cities across the country and rediscovering the advantages of living downtown.
The rise of the Internet is a good and bad thing. You just have to work with it. Sure, some areas of business have gone down since you can now just email many types of documents, but there will always be the need for certain things to be physically delivered. The peace of mind you get when you know human hands are touching the delivery is priceless.
The Metropreneur: Your website lists services also provided in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. What sort of arrangements do you have in those other cities?
ID: We basically work with independent courier companies in those cities. We get the order at one central point of contact and forward it onto them. We get a small percentage of the order while the local courier company makes most of the money. It’s a win-win because it gives them business while giving us a little profit. It’s a great way for the independent courier companies to work together.
The Metropreneur: So tell us a bit about why you’ve started the delivery services and recycling services.
ID: My partner and I had been talking about the recycling service for awhile. It was her idea and something she really believed in, so we decided to give it a shot. It’s been done across the country and we wanted Columbus to have that option as well. What’s better than having your recyclables picked up in a green manner instead of with a huge and noisy diesel truck?
As for the food delivery service, it just makes sense. It’s fast, it’s green, and it makes customers happy.
The Metropreneur: What percentage of your company’s income is derived from traditional services versus these newer delivery services?
ID: The larger percentage is still legal work at the various court houses Downtown and in between law firms. We also do a lot of work for architecture and design firms. Our goal is to have the newer delivery services and what we already offer balance out at about 50/50. We don’t want to have all our eggs in one basket.
The Metropreneur: Your mention your delivery and recycling services as being a “green” alternative. Why is that offering that type of service important to you?
ID: It’s important to me and our customers because being ‘green’ just makes life simpler, helps save money and keeps everyone a little more healthy.
The Metropreneur: Does public infrastructure and bikeway investments affect your business’ bottom line?
ID: Without a doubt. When we have more people riding bikes, it makes our jobs a little safer since drivers are used to seeing more bikers out there. It’s been nice seeing changes for the better.
The Metropreneur: What does the future hold for CS Courier?
ID: World domination! We’ve got some projects we are working on with some local retailers and restaurants, which will be rolled out soon. Keep checking out our website and twitter for updates!
Interested in having food delivered to your door? To find out how the service works for customers, read the ColumbusUnderground.com article here.
To learn more about C.S. Courier, visit CSCourier.com.
All photography by Adam Lowe Photography.