Whenever Rayan Rahman would travel to India, he’d take requests from friends and family for products they wanted from the U.S. “The price difference is huge and things aren’t always available there,” Rahman, a senior management student, explained.
Because of his personal experience with high shipping costs, Rahman decided to create Airposted, his own peer-to-peer shipping service. The goal is to help buyers get access to products that aren’t available where they live or receive products at a lower price and help travelers earn extra money while traveling.
“There’s nothing like this, so it’s worth a shot,” he said, crediting the Mason Innovation Lab with initial funding for the company. The Mason Innovation Lab, which is part of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, provides a physical space, community, and support for Mason entrepreneurs.
Airposted allows buyers to post the goods they’re looking for and chat with travelers coming to their country. After a bidding process, the buyer will pay Airposted the cost of the product and the negotiated traveler’s fee, and the traveler will purchase and deliver the product to the buyer. Once the trade is complete, Airposted releases the money to the traveler.
The site officially launched in September 2016 and has received half a million hits with users from more than 20 countries.
Raisa Rahman, a marketing student and Rahman’s cousin, serves as co-founder and chief product officer. She describes her role as being the intersection between the design team and the developers. Raisa is responsible for creating the design for how the product looks, branding, and working with developers to track bugs.
“The sharing economy seems to be doing so well for things like ride sharing and home sharing, so we figured why not go into the shipping industry because it really needs some innovation,” she said.
Rayan Rahman describes the site as a “very new concept,” and has marketed the site mostly through Facebook and Instagram. “It didn’t go viral, but we started to get traction,” he said. To date, 200 transactions have been completed on Airposted.
The company has focused its efforts on India, other parts of Asia and Europe. Rayan Rahman said there’s never a shortage of buyers, “but the problem from Airposted’s end was getting the travelers here.”
Recently he visited the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange to discuss Airposted and the role Mason has played. After graduation, he plans to start looking for and raising venture capital in Silicon Valley for the company. Airposted has roughly 25,000 users, but “we want to really grow faster than this,” he said.
“We’ll see what happens from there. My whole idea was to have small stores in airports for Airposted.” That’s the future I think.”