Chain of Thought

A Pitch for Extreme Logistics TV

In my last blog I was dismissive of a new shipping service some college kids are trying to get off the ground. I complained that I couldn't even get onto their website, and surmised they must be having trouble selling their concept.

I owe these kids an apology. www.SendwithMe.com is a working website--it just took a few minutes for it to come up on my screen. I still think the concept is a bit weird, though. They want to build off the perception that the efficiency-poor U.S. Postal Service is on its last legs and that FedEx drivers regularly and literally toss parcels over the recipient's fence. (YouTube got a lot of hits showing that particular service offering).

Well, even if these kids' idea of providing an online tool to match up parcel shippers with airline passengers willing to deliver those parcels through the last mile to a recipient seems absurd from a practical perspective, I'm starting to think they may have a future being impractical. Forget realism. Think reality TV.

A&E is introducing a brand new reality show this week called "Shipping Wars," which follows six independent shippers who've discovered that fortunes could be made transporting items traditional carriers won't touch. Here's how A&E's press release describes their series:

“Each episode of "Shipping Wars" dives into the cutthroat world of these heavy-duty movers as they battle for the chance to transport the unshippable. The competition begins with uShip, the world's largest online auction house for independent truckers. Every day, thousands of shipments are put up for auction. The battle is fierce as the movers have only minutes to bid, and the lowest bidder gets the load.”

The show's wow factor lies in these carriers struggling with crazy oversized loads and bulky packages—as long as the price is right. “The high-stakes race is on as they set out to deliver the loads in time, and any setback can cost big bucks,” A&E exclaims.

Sounds a little like the same kind of service the SendWithMe kids are offering, but with a lot more drama. So I apologize to student entrepreneur Raaheela Ahmed, the startup's CEO, for mocking her idea. She just didn't take her concept far enough. She should have sold it to a cable network first.

Maybe if Shipping Wars takes off, the SendWithMe folks can capitalize on it by pitching the idea of a parcel version with a wacky bunch of passengers trying to get suspicious looking packages through airport security while withstanding the withering glares of business travelers delayed by TSA's airport shutdowns. Giant cuckoo clocks tick just like bombs, after all.

I think SendWithMe has MustSeeTV written all over it. Then again, last year in this space I tried pitching “Forklifter,” the story of an itinerant lift truck operator who gets called to different industry sites to solve supply chain crises. The hook: this expert is really an OSHA spy, seeking out willful safety scofflaws.

I was kidding around at the time, but in light of Shipping Wars, I think the SendWithMe kids and I could have hits on our hands. How about a package deal, A&E?

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