I’d like to take a minute and break from the usual kind of entry to tell you about a new product that my friend Dan Karlin (Anuva Wines, BA Cast) has recently launched. His new venture, the Mule Pool, is an interesting way to bring expats and travelers products which they either can’t get abroad or have to pay way too much for overseas. For example: take your standard Macbook laptop which in the U.S. might cost you U$2,000 (just a rough figure). In Argentina, that same exact laptop could possibly cost you around U$2,500 or more.
The Mule Pool aims to help you shop without borders, or essentially match you up with someone who is traveling and make them like a personal deliveryman or woman. The products can be whatever you want (keeping it legal, of course), from a certain chocolate bar that you can’t get overseas to a movie or video game. The process can be broken down into six basic steps:
- Buyer posts what he would like to buy. Don’t forget details (what color? how much memory?) and include however much you want for the Mule’s commission in the “I will offer…” box!
- Mules review all open requests. Based on where they are going and when, and how much money is being offered, the Mule chooses which items they would like to accept. Mules ask the Buyer any questions or clarifications they might have at this point.
- Buyer puts money into escrow. The Mule Pool, Ltd, holds on to the money until we’re sure that the product was delivered.
- Mule makes purchase, and travels to destination. The Mule pays for the product himself, as necessary.
- Mule and Buyer meet at a Mule Pool Party to make exchange if they are both in Buenos Aires (Tuesday Nights, 9pm to 11pm @ The Office Bar, Arevalo 3031, Corner of Arce), or, they meet up on their own to do an exchange. Each is given a confirmation code; one of you must enter the other’s confirmation code into the system. Only give the other your confirmation code once you’ve gotten the delivery and you’re sure it works!
- Mule Gets Paid! Once the transaction is confirmed, the funds are released by The Mule Pool, Ltd and the Mule is paid.
This project is just getting set up but holds huge potential to close the gaps between travelers and locals. In the same sense that the Internet made it easier for expats to stay in touch with back home, this new venture can keep you up to speed with the latest technology without breaking the bank, or just stave off homesickness if you’re longing for a taste of familiarity.
Here’s what the guys from the team have to say:
“The Mule Pool was founded when Morgan and Dan left the USA for Argentina and realized they missed their favorite consumer products: Gulden’s Mustard, the iPad, Bacardi 151 and, of course, Victoria Secret for their girlfriends. Not to mention, the constant “Can you bring me back 8 iPads?” from all their friends every time either one traveled back to the USA made them think that if they asked for a commission on being mules, they could fund their next trips!
Thus The Mule Pool, Ltd was born in Portland, with the singular mission of creating the eBay for Schlepping. After spending six months building a system for buyers and mules to meet, and to safely manage escrow transactions between them, on Feb 1st 2011, we began beta testing and will launch officially soon.
Love us or hate us? Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org . And we are now expanding and looking to hire people to work for us in countries around the world, including Brazil, South Africa, and Russia. Interested? Drop us a note!”