Keep Moving: How This Gas-Delivery Startup Fuels Communities
Rather than pull into to a gas station when their fuel tanks are approaching empty, Yoshi, customers can schedule fill-ups in their driveways, office parking lots or most anywhere else. But here’s the catch: There must be at least two other fill-ups booked within one mile for the sake of efficiency. That way, Yoshi drivers don’t have to make long trips to connect the dots between far-flung customers.
Achieving a concentration of customers in a given place can be a challenge for Yoshi. Launched in May 2015, the company offers auto care services to members in Nashville, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Atlanta and Austin, Texas. Its co-founders started the service after identifying the inefficiencies and safety risks of stopping at gas stations, from cutting across traffic to risking robbery and credit card theft.
To attract more customers in a given area, Yoshi has to partner with other businesses, which is something co-founder Bryan Frist says he and his team understood from the beginning. Yoshi appeals to companies for a number of reasons. Some HR departments incorporate Yoshi fill-ups into their benefits offerings. Some like the fact that Yoshi keeps late-shift employees safer by eliminating the need to stop and pump their own gas on the way home.
But Yoshi has learned to be open to other types of partnerships. One category is vehicle fleets, which Frist says he didn’t foresee being a fit for Yoshi’s commuter-focused services. Another is nonprofits. Last September, amid a gasoline shortage due to a leaky pipeline, Nashville-based Alive Hospice called on Yoshi to help its employees and volunteers provide uninterrupted care to 430 patients across 12 counties in the area.
Yoshi delivered. The company has since partnered with other nonprofits, and, like it did for Alive Hospice, waives membership fees for nonprofit employees and only charges them for the gas itself.
“We were able to divert all of our trucks to their location on Monday morning and get all of their nurses on their way,” Frist says. “I believe the Alive Hospice team was happy with the speed at which we made things happen, too. So happy that many of them signed up for and started using our services after our initial visit and remain members today.”
By the end of this year, co-founder Bryan Frist says Yoshi plans to be in five to 10 additional states. Entrepreneur spoke with Frist about why looking for opportunities to address pain points for other organizations helps Yoshi figure out where to head next.
This conversation has been edited.
What have you learned about growth while doing good?
Whether it’s filling up a pizza delivery guy's car before his shift starts or working with a major fleet so their drivers can hit the road with full tanks, we interact with every demographic and archetype in each market. No customer is too small or too big for us.
If we’re going between point A and point B, and there’s a nonprofit along the way that’s asked us if we can help fill them up, we might as well stop by and fill them up. As density increases, providing our services becomes easier. Nonprofits, too, need to transport goods, people and employees around the country. If we can help them do that in an efficient and streamlined way, it’s a win-win. It also sends a good message, as we grow the company, that we value these things. We see ourselves as deeply integrated into the fabric of the communities in which we operate.
What have you learned about culture while doing good?
By doing good, we then attract high-quality applicants who see their job as more than just pumping gas. We see those high-quality drivers then having fantastic interactions with our members who then go on to refer their friends, family and co-workers to our services. It continues right on down the line. Good begets good.
What advice do you have for other businesses looking to do good?
We’re still figuring stuff out, too. But we have the mentality of, ‘just do it.’ We tell our support staff, if any incoming message comes in from a charity, to elevate it immediately.
If you’ve got a successful business, it’s going to be successful whether or not a small percentage of what you do is altruistic or charity work. The only part that will suffer if you don’t do it is probably the culture, if you’re only worried about the bottom line.