By Brenlee Coates
It isn’t that Alejandro De Paz had an experience with a boss that was anywhere near those depicted in the Horrible Bosses movies – it’s just that he wants to be his own.
De Paz worked as a crewman in construction while attending university. “They were nice bosses, but at the same time, I don’t want to work for anyone else,” says De Paz.
He dreamt of owning his own restaurant, so he decided to start small and began using his weekends in the warmer months to man a hot dog stand.
Between the two jobs, he raised enough capital to open up a restaurant, but he started to worry about the risk involved. “I realized that it was competitive and the margins were small,” he says. Instead, like a savvy entrepreneur-to-be, he started looking for a need to fulfill in the community.
A need to satisfy
“I found when I was working in construction, I didn’t have time to buy groceries,” says De Paz.
He also drew on inspiration from the challenges his family went through when they first immigrated to Winnipeg and didn’t have a car. “It’s hard to go to the store, especially without a car, and then there’s six of us, so that’s a lot of groceries,” he explains.
Realizing he was on to something, he began exploring other markets that could benefit from outsourcing their grocery shopping. He found that parents with young kids, persons with disabilities, transit commuters, busy professionals, and elderly people all have a tough time getting to the store.
“It’s been getting a lot of response,” he says. “It’s mostly elderly so far… (but) there’s a lot of markets I can try.
“I found people bus there (to the grocery store) and they cab it back because of the bags. It’s not as comfortable as just getting it delivered to your door” – and likely, the costs would compare.
InstaGroceries, as it’s called, is an e-commerce website, where customers can select the products they want to buy, add them to a cart, and schedule a delivery in a minimum of two hours from the order time, or schedule a specific drop-off time.
So far, InstaGroceries has all of Real Canadian Superstore’s and Sobeys Canada’s products available, with more on the way. De Paz wants to allow consumers the freedom to choose their preferred store. “People say they’ve seen (this) before because some grocery stores deliver. But I think what I’m doing is very different because I go to your store,” says De Paz.
The cost of the shopping and delivery service is dependent on the number of items you purchase. There is a base cost of $11.98 and then for the first 12 items, an added charge of $0.45 per item. The cost added per item goes down as you climb up in number of items, and the base fee drops to $9.98 after 25 items.
An estimate of your total cost is tallied online when you place an order, though you pay when you receive your delivery. Price discounts and any discrepancies are applied at the point of sale at the grocery store.
Right now, De Paz is doing the deliveries himself, though he hopes to expand his business to include more delivery drivers.
De Paz began his business venture through the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg Self-Employment Training Program. The program offers people who meet the criteria courses and support in producing a viable business plan. Then, they continue to receive business coaching while operating the approved business and receiving Employment Insurance Benefits or a Living Allowance (up to a maximum of 39 weeks).
Though he plans on continuing his political science studies in the future, one thing’s for sure: De Paz’s happier being his own boss.