It's an average night in October 2019. Eight UCLA students are squeezed into an apartment. Most are in a band together, head-banging to the beat of guitars and keyboards. On the other side of the room, three Duffl workers received orders from an email inbox.
Despite the chaos of yelling across rock music to "add Takis to an order" before racing off on an electric scooter to deliver them, Duffl broke 100 orders that night.
“It makes you think 'what the f--- is going on?' But then partially the other side of you is like 'wow, we're actually onto something insane,'” said Robert Dong, marketing manager of Duffl and part of the team that started the company.
Hiring only student workers
Duffl is a delivery service, based out of their own convenience store, which is run by students for students. The company is currently on seven college campuses, including ASU and UA.
The company came to ASU in March and is located on Terrace Road, southeast of the Greek Leadership Village and accepts orders every day from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“Even on my third day on the job, it felt like I was working with some of my closest friends,” said Elaina Kreatsoulas, store manager of Duffl's ASU convenience store and a sophomore sports business major.
To decrease conflict in the workplace, Duffl hires people based on culture and how well they can work with others in order to keep a “friend group vibe culture,” Kreatsoulas said.
Duffl calls their delivery drivers "Racers." Andrew Butler, a sophomore business major, refers to himself as “The Sexiest Racer” at Duffl. Racer names are customizable on the Duffl delivery app.
“All the other jobs I've had, I've always been in an expendable position," Butler said.
However, Butler emphasizes that all Duffl store employees, even delivery drivers' opinions, are valued in what products to carry in store.
“Everybody gets a say, which I think is eye-opening for me because I've never had a job like that, where they asked for my personal opinion,” Butler said.
Prioritizing the driver-customer relationship
Duffl wasn’t intentionally started as a student-based delivery service. However, friendships that started the company “became a side effect that turned into one of the cornerstones of Duffl culture,” Dong said.
Unlike other delivery services, you may get the same driver delivering your order multiple times a week. Duffl prioritizes friendship within both the employee and customer base.
Orders also all come with a personalized message on the bag from the Racer. One particular order of Plan B came with the message, “So what happened to Plan A? Our condoms are cheaper," Tempe Barstool shared in an Instagram post.
ASU Duffl also includes no delivery fees.
“We tell our customers that ordering from us is essentially the same price that you'll get from a grocery store. So there's no reason to not try us out. And that's our goal to help out college students,” Dong said.
Duffl is also cashless, meaning items can only be purchased through the Duffl app.
Although college students are Duffl’s main demographic, anyone can order as long as they are in about a 2-mile radius of Duffl’s store location.
Duffl is also committed to building the world's first net carbon-neutral delivery service.
Most orders are delivered via electric scooter, with the exception of one electric bicycle the ASU location uses.
On the Duffl App, as a customer, Kreatsoulas has saved 51.23 hours shopping and prevented 48 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.
As "The Sexiest Racer," Butler has coincidentally saved 69.09 hours of shopping and prevented 65kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Starting a business
“If you're young and interested in business, it's so cheesy, but just do it," Dong said. "Literally, just do it."
Dong said he sees people who have so many ideas to do something big but "by taking action, it inspires more motivation to do more."
“Hanging out with my friends just doing what seemed fun and serving my friends and other people that I didn't know as well turned out to be so much more,” Dong said.
Edited by Jasmine Kabiri, Wyatt Myskow and Grace Copperthite.
Sherry Fan is a journalism student hoping to educate audiences on underrepresented communities. She has previously worked producer roles for the film company, Summery Productions.