By Courtney Griffin
5:05 PM CDT, September 26, 2013
Even over the phone, Jimmy Odom bursts with energy. His tone is enthusiastic, even borderline fanatical, as he tells stories about himself, his work and his family at a decibel level that is somewhere in between "animated speaking" and "spirited yelling."
The guy's got a lot of drive. And as the 31-year-old founder and CEO of one of Chicago's most buzzed-about startups, all of that energy certainly is justified.
"I've always been an entrepreneur," said Odom, who spent time working at Apple stores before launching WeDeliver, a Chicago-based startup that provides on-demand delivery services for a number of Chicago businesses. Odom, a South Side native, said his time at Apple taught him about leadership, but his entrepreneurial instincts weren't put to the test until he had the idea for a one-of-a-kind delivery service that partnered with businesses of his choosing. The initial reaction to his plan: not exactly encouraging.
"Going back to October , everyone thought this was a terrible idea," the Homewood resident and father of three said. "I always told my kids to just try, always try. And I would have been a hypocrite if I didn't at least try myself."
So as any strong-willed entrepreneur-at-heart would do, Odom carried on anyway, leaving his job at Apple and finding quick success. After officially launching in late July, WeDeliver has become one of the fastest-growing startups in Chicago, with businesses such as Dilly Lilly, Magnolia Bakery and Glazed and Infused signing up for the invitation-only service.
"We want to make deliveries much more personal," said Odom, who is dedicated to eliminating those annoying "sorry we missed you" stickers from same-day delivery services through live-tracking and giving customers the ability to correspond with those making the deliveries. "It's all about transparency and accountability."
Odom said those winning qualities don't come from the help of online mapping services--an interesting realization for a former Apple employee and startup CEO.
"Google and Apple Maps can give you the best turn-by-turn directions, but we want to find the best people to work with," he said. WeDeliver's tracking service provides merchants and customers with the ability to not only see the exact location of their order, but also correspond with drivers in order to ensure a delivery time that works for all parties.
"These are all real people involved, so let's let them talk to one another," Odom said.
Jasmine Rahbari, assistant general manager at doughnut shop Glazed and Infused, said business has changed considerably after partnering with WeDeliver.
"We feel very confident in doing as many orders as we can get every day," said Rahbari, 24, whose business teamed up with WeDeliver in August. "They have enough drivers for us to do deliveries as much as we like."
As a business-to-business service, Odom says WeDeliver's name purposefully emphasizes the inclusiveness associated with the word "we," representing the company's dedication to cohesiveness and customer experience.
"We actually help businesses run their companies, and we're servicing a local community," said Odom, who hopes to partner with a total of 250 businesses by the end of the year.
He already has received four awards for his innovative startup, including the top prizes at Chicago Startup Weekend and the TechWeek Launch awards, as well as a mention in "The Tech 50" list, ranking the top 50 people in technology and featured in Crain's Chicago Business—that's quite a few accolades for a company that officially launched less than three months ago.
"Those wins were a way for Chicago to say they support us, and they agree with what we're doing," Odom said. "That's what it all means to us.
For information, visit www.wedeliver.us.
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