The mail delivery service space is an interesting sector when it comes to tech disruption. Amazon has been testing services and toying with the idea of dropping the packages off right inside your home under the protection of video monitoring services, (a likely reason for its recent acquisition of Ring). We’ve also seen lockers from both Amazon and other larger service providers designed to service major buildings and complexes but what about single-family homes? In an interview with Black Enterprise, Kela Ivonye, CEO and co-founder of MailHaven talks about his company’s solution—a smart mailbox that tracks and protects packages on home doorsteps.
Tell me about your background.
I’m a spatial analyst/scientist and entrepreneur with a focus on hyperlocal logistics and the built environment. I got my bachelor’s in Geographic Information Science and have had my work published at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. I dropped out of a graduate program at the University of Louisville in spatial analysis for planning and started my first company, a hyperlocal food delivery startup. I’m an immigrant from Nigeria, and both my parents were entrepreneurs.
For the people who have never heard of it, explain MailHaven.
MailHaven is building infrastructure for the future of delivery with the automated home reception of packages. Our first two products, MailHaven package tracking, and the Haven help homeowners avoid missed deliveries and stolen packages, providing convenience and accountability at the last mile of delivery.
Our tracking app seamlessly connects to a user’s assigned email to automatically track their packages, alerting them when to be available for a delivery while providing an impeccable user experience. It can be used standalone or combined with the Haven.
The Haven is a smart mailbox for packages. It is 3G connected, solar powered with an embedded barcode scanner. When a customer places an order online, the MailHaven app receives the tracking information via email or by adding a tracking number. The information is then sent to the Haven and it starts expecting the package. Couriers scan the package on the Haven’s embedded barcode scanner to unlock and deposit packages. The homeowner can then open it up with their app when they return.
The Haven differs from other solutions because it’s standalone and can be installed anywhere on the customer’s property, no need for connected power or WI-FI. It is designed with customizable faceplates that can be personalized to fit the customer’s home and landscape aesthetics with the convenience of being right at home.
Our impact is not only financial for online shoppers, couriers, and retailers but has environmental ramifications of eliminating re-delivery-based emissions. We can see new efficiencies being created for couriers now and delivery air/land drones in the future, as well as supporting new trends in peer-to-peer hyperlocal trade.
We are not necessarily a hardware company but rather we build software that will tie together all the players in the hyperlocal logistics ecosystem, retailers and the hardware for package reception.
Does the Ring acquisition from Amazon tie into this concept?
With the acquisition of Ring, a tool that will help Amazon launch it’s somewhat controversial in-home delivery, retailers, couriers, and investors have reached out to us because we have a secure, noninvasive and simple solution. We no longer have to make long pitches; people get it immediately and are more enthusiastic about partnering with us. I believe there is no one size fits all solution and there is room for both solutions, however, companies have to first gain the homeowners trust, and outside the home is where you start from.
What do you expect your rollout to be over the next year?
We have started the rollout of the first fully functional prototype units and will be piloting them in Louisville in conjunction with UPS and will launch another pilot in the Bay Area in conjunction with a logistics company. We anticipate a nationwide rollout very soon.