Have App, Will Deliver: NYC Picnic Boom Has One Techie Dreaming Big

Editor’s Note: No city is more important to America’s economy than New York, and none has been hit harder by the coronavirus. “NYC Reopens” examines life in the capital of capitalism as the city takes its first halting steps toward a new normal.

With summer in full swing, picnicking has quickly become a popular substitute for dining out among New Yorkers trying to avoid the coronavirus.

And one enterprising young techie is trying to capitalize on the boom.

Meet Sam Collins, a 25-year-old software developer who’s created his own Doordash — but for picnics. The native New Yorker says he hit on the idea while hanging out with a friend at a park in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, and realized he couldn’t get food delivered to the particular spot on the grass where he was sitting.

Collins got his website, PicnicPost, up and running within a few days, bought a bike and a cooler, and began delivering meals from Upper West Side restaurants to picnickers in Central Park in mid-May.

To get the word out, he handed out hundreds of flyers in the park and also paid for an Instagram ad campaign.

“The restaurant of the summer of 2020 is right here — the park,” Collins explained as he made deliveries this past weekend.

Have App, Will Deliver: NYC Picnic Boom Has One Techie Dreaming Big

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Of course, Collins is the first to admit he’s not quite raking in the dough or fielding calls for venture capital just yet. His startup is mostly a one-man show. On a really good day, he brings in about 10 orders, he says, which nets him roughly $70 to $80. For now, he’s living with his parents in the East Village and studying for the LSAT.

PicnicPost currently offers delivery from 17 restaurants in Manhattan, including Just Salad, Angaar Classic Indian Cuisine and Rosa Mexicano. Customers use his website to order, and then share their location data from their phones so Collins can find them. The minimum delivery charge is $5 with an added 20% on top of the price of the order, he said.

Have App, Will Deliver: NYC Picnic Boom Has One Techie Dreaming Big

On Sunday, Tiluna Nocito was journaling in Central Park and ordered sushi through PicnicPost, which she found on Instagram.

“It’s just harder in general to travel around,” the 24-year-old artist said. “This allows people to conveniently get food instead of traveling to several different places.”

Before the coronavirus hit, Collins was busy working on an app that would help travelers in Italy map out itineraries. With that on hold, he’s had the time to focus on PicnicPost and build up his business experience. He also picks up freelance development work to make ends meet.

Have App, Will Deliver: NYC Picnic Boom Has One Techie Dreaming Big

One of the perks of riding around making deliveries, he says, is meeting new people after being cooped up for months.

“It’s not so much about how much money I make, it’s more about the experience of starting a business,” Collins said. “Especially after being quarantined for so long, I had such a desire to see people and talk to people, that’s been so refreshing.”

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