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Innovator Profile: Pipedream Labs Envisions Quick Commerce via Underground Delivery Networks


The Coresight Research team will attend and participate in this year’s Groceryshop conference, which will be held on September 19–22, 2022, in Las Vegas, US. Groceryshop 2022 will explore the changing grocery landscape and help businesses navigate the rapid rise in e-commerce, the latest business models and technologies, and the shifting consumer behaviors that are impacting the industry.

On September 19, 2022, Deborah Weinswig, CEO and Founder of Coresight Research, will emcee and feature on the judging panel of Groceryshop 2022’s “Shark Reef” startup pitch competition, which will see 12 early-stage innovators compete to win the Judges’ Choice and Audience Choice awards. In the lead-up to the event, we are profiling the participating innovators. 

This report forms part of our Innovator Profile series, which focuses on emerging technologies that are disrupting traditional retail and fueling innovation across the retail value chain. We present Pipedream Labs, developer of an underground delivery network geared toward rapid delivery of instant needs goods using robots. Coresight Research collaborated with Pipedream Labs to offer insights into its capabilities and offerings.

Areas of Innovation

Coresight Research categorizes the 12 participating innovators into three areas of innovation in retail: fulfillment and sustainability; product marketing and merchandising; and AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning) and automation. Pipedream Labs falls under “fulfillment and sustainability.”

Fulfillment (including the last mile) is often one of the most complex and costly processes in the supply chain, while sustainability is increasingly gaining attention from stakeholders. Technology innovators focused on these areas can assist brands and retailers in improving efficiency, transparency and sustainability in the supply chain, as well as supporting them in saving costs.

Company Name: Pipedream Labs 




Austin, Texas, US 

Funding Stage 

Seed stage 

Total funding raised: $2.1 million 

Company Description

Founded in 2020, Pipedream Labs aims to revolutionize last-mile delivery by developing underground delivery networks designed to rapidly transport instant needs products. The company aims establish underground tunnel networks where items can be rapidly moved within a local geographic area via electrically powered robotic pods.

Pipedream Labs will use drivers to deliver items from retailers such as grocery and convenience stores to “portals” where the items will enter their underground delivery system. Items will then be transported underground via electric pods—capable of up to 75mph—across the city where another driver will collect the item and deliver it to its destination. By using entirely electric-powered robots, Pipedream Labs will greatly reduce delivery CO2 emissions and offer a more environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional delivery methods.

The company hopes to revolutionize the retail delivery industry and lead the shift to an underground, robotics-based model aimed at quick and efficient delivery of instant needs and essential goods. 

Source: Pipedream Labs website


What Problem Is the Company Solving?

As the quick commerce market expands, meeting consumer expectations of rapid delivery of instant-needs items is a challenge for retailers, particularly in the last mile. Last-mile delivery tends to be one of the most complex and expensive parts of the delivery process, due to factors including traffic congestion in cities and long distances in rural areas. According to a Coresight Research survey of 150 US-based executives conducted in June 2021, last-mile delivery accounts for at least 40% of supply chain costs for nearly half of all mall-based retailers. As more shoppers have everyday items delivered, and consumers increasingly expect sustainable practices from companies, retailers must consider the impact of their deliveries on the environment, traffic congestion and road safety. 

Pipedream Labs envisions the future of retail delivery to be carried out through autonomous, electrically powered robotic pods that travel at fast speeds underground. Deliveries can thus be competed quicker, with lower carbon emissions, less road congestion and lower risk of automobile accidents than traditional delivery methods. Once its infrastructure is established, the company expects its model to greatly reduce the overall cost of last-mile deliveries. 

Market Opportunity 

As shoppers demand quicker delivery of instant needs items, and order these items more frequently, retailers and businesses may look to time- and cost-efficient alternative delivery systems. A Coresight Research survey conducted in August 2022 found that 9.3% of US respondents had used rapid (one hour or less) delivery in the past three months, up from 7.6% in February 2022, representing a 22% increase in uptake of this fulfillment method over the last six months. This highlights a shift in consumer behavior toward wanting items delivered almost instantly. 

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, retailers should look to partner with companies that help them carry out their operations in a greener and more sustainable way. In our August 2022 Consumer Tracker Extra survey, we found that for both discretionary and non-discretionary purchases, sustainability at least somewhat impacts where almost four in 10 shoppers purchase from—and fewer than one in five respondents reported that sustainability has no impact where they buy products. 

What We Think

As consumers demand quicker delivery of instant needs items more frequently, retailers should look to integrate themselves into a sustainable delivery ecosystem capable of rapidly transporting instant needs items. 

We believe that the trend toward greater uptake of instant and same-day delivery will continue, and retailers should partner with last-mile delivery companies that emphasize sustainability and scalability of retail deliveries to benefit from these trends.