“I eat, breathe and live Lazy Delivery.”
Manuel Zelaya is one of three co-founders of the delivery service that will launch in Tallahassee this month, marking the business’s fourth expansion in just over a year.
Zelaya said he and his cofounders chose to expand to Tallahassee because Lazy Delivery received more mentions on Twitter there than any other city, besides Miami, that was not already in their coverage area. The trio intends to keep Gainesville in the center of that coverage area.
Lazy Delivery will deliver anything that fits inside a “normal–sized car” from any store with a physical location in their coverage area. This could include groceries but also unexpected items like flowers from local florists or supplies from Home Depot.
Zelaya, an engineering student at the University of Central Florida who originally studied English and women’s studies at the University of Florida, is an unlikely candidate to be a young business owner. The same could be said for all three of the co-founders.
Co-founded by Manuel Zelaya, 25, his brother Daniel Zelaya, 24, and longtime friend Marc Charbel, 24, Lazy Delivery officially launched in January 2014 in Gainesville, where Manuel Zelaya and Charbel attended school.
“When we originally launched in Gainesville it was more of a test idea,” Charbel said. “We just scrapped little things together to make sure it worked. It was just enough to do it.”
Lazy Delivery has expanded rapidly since then. They’ve already broadened their operations from Gainesville to Jacksonville and Orlando.
This much expansion in just over a year led to a lot of internal restructuring. Charbel and Manuel Zelaya moved to their respective cities to head operations and hire interns. They have been testing the idea of creating districts within the cities with a delivery dispatcher leading each district. This differs from their standard model now, which has one dispatcher cover the entire area of a city.
Charbel, chief financial officer and Jacksonville regional director of Lazy Delivery, recently graduated from UF with his masters in biomedical engineering and has returned to get a Ph.D.
“I’m still doing both, and it’s definitely not an easy task,” Charbel said. “But it’s no reason to give up. Some people tell you that you have to live off Ramen noodles, but at the end of the day it’s up to the person what they want to take on and what they want to accomplish.”
Each co-founder said the idea for Lazy Delivery came from different aspects of college life. They said they wanted a safer and more reliable way for students without automobile access to be able to get groceries – and for people to get dessert when they’re feeling too lazy to drive to the store.
Daniel Zelaya, like his brother Manuel and Charbel, is also an unexpected candidate for his position as chief technical officer and Gainesville regional director of Lazy Delivery. Daniel Zelaya graduated from Yale University with a history degree.
“I never thought I’d be running a business at the age of 23, 24, 25,” Daniel Zelaya said. “This particular opportunity came out of nowhere, but I jumped on it.”
All three co–founders agreed that founding a business allows them to use skills from all areas of study in one occupation.
“I didn’t really have a set career plan going, so I don’t know what I’d be doing if not this,” Daniel Zelaya said. “Maybe writing or photography? But here’s the thing, I definitely use those skills on a daily basis.”
Daniel Zelaya said he makes a lot of the graphics, takes many of the photos and writes the press releases for the company.
Manuel Zelaya said he believes Lazy Delivery is giving local stores that don’t have a strong online presence the opportunity to compete with stores like Amazon or Best Buy.
“We see ourselves as that – the last line of defense of the brick and mortar,” Manuel Zelaya said.
The system allows people to log in online and type in anything they can think of to be delivered from any store.
Some people have had difficulties with the service even though they love the idea.
“Living in D.C. before, I used a grocery delivery service,” said Jessica Mahone, a Ph.D graduate from UF. “So I was hopeful it would work here, but I think the big issue is Lazy Delivery doesn’t have a way for you to select specific things.”
Mahone said that when she ordered from Lazy Delivery in December, her order was never delivered. She pointed out that her card wasn’t charged either but said it was inconvenient.
Daniel Zelaya has gathered a group of interns to make the business run more smoothly. The co-founders hope to continue expanding their business, possibly to Miami or the south Georgia area.
All three co–founders have made room for Lazy Delivery in their lives and have moved away from the projected paths their studies were leading them down.
“I don’t look at areas of study as correlating to professions,” Manuel Zelaya said. “I think I can take a lot of the pieces I’ve learned and apply it to a lot of different professions. I think people who look at the world like that limit their options.”