Booster Fuels filling up thousands of gas tanks a day on demand | Crain's Dallas

Booster Fuels filling up thousands of gas tanks a day on demand

  • The Booster Fuels trucks fill gas tanks at business parking lots on demand.

    The Booster Fuels trucks fill gas tanks at business parking lots on demand.

  • Booster Fuels customers use an app to order gasoline delivered to their vehicle.

    Booster Fuels customers use an app to order gasoline delivered to their vehicle.

  • Booster Fuels trucks fill gas tanks on demand.

    Booster Fuels trucks fill gas tanks on demand.

Booster Fuels already fills thousands of gas tanks daily in office parks and campuses throughout North Texas and the San Francisco area, and just added some heavy hitters to its client list.  

Overall, the company reported tenfold growth in 2016, going from a few hundred fill-ups per day to several thousand. And the the company that got its start in Fort Worth plans to duplicate that tenfold growth in 2017. 

The on-demand fuel service now delivers 30 Fortune 500 companies, including the Pepsi/Frito Lay corporate offices in Plano and the Cisco Systems corporate office in Richardson. 

Booster Fuels started with a simple idea: Deliver gasoline to people’s vehicles on demand while they work. A few clicks on the Booster Fuels app, and your gas tank will be full by the end of the day. The purple fuel trucks are basically like Uber for gasoline—and the convenience factor could make convenience stores seem inconvenient.

“Everybody loves being able to push a button and get something,” said co-founder and CEO Frank Mycroft. “We are faster, better and provide more value than the alternative. We’ve done everything we can to improve our efficiency.”

The company is five to six times bigger now than a year ago, he said.

Mycroft started in 2014 and sold billionaire developer Ross Perot Jr. on the idea, getting his investment and blessing to deliver gasoline to office tenants at the AllianceTexas development in north Fort Worth. 

The service is offered as a perk to office buildings and campuses so the trucks can deliver fuel to a large number of vehicles at a time. Customers are billed for the gasoline through the app. As a bonus, the Booster Fuels drivers will add air to the tires and clean the windshield.

Booster Fuels recently added a new feature to the app that allows customers to check gasoline prices in the area so they can compare that to the Booster Fuels price.

“People have a certain pride about getting a great value on gas that you don’t often see with other products,” Mycroft said. “Most people, once they try us, they’re hooked and they stay with us.”

By eliminating a trip to the gas station and making sure tires are properly inflated, Mycroft estimates that each Booster Fuels truck can save 200 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in a single day.

Booster Fuels is part of the fast-growing on-demand economy that uses smartphones and geolocation to deliver services, spanning everything from food deliveries to rideshares.

“I think there’s never been a better time to be a consumer,” Mycroft said.

But for entrepreneurs who enter the space, it can be a tough road.

“It’s an increasingly crowded space, especially in some of the mature markets, such as food delivery,” Mycroft said. “If you’re going to have a good on-demand product, you have to better, faster and cheaper. Let’s see if we can actually make the whole supply chain better using technology. Those are the ones that you really see get elevated and find ways to grow.”

Fellow Dallas entrepreneur Brenda Stoner found her niche by giving off-duty police and firemen who drive pickup trucks the opportunity to deliver on-demand for customers. Her company, called PICKUP, gives consumers access to same-day delivery for items purchased at a brick and mortar store—like a TV or washer and dryer—that might typically take one to two weeks. That actually helps big box stores compete with e-commerce.

“Today’s emerging digital consumer expects convenience and flexibility in all aspects of their lives,” Stoner said. “The expectation is creating disruptive opportunities for services surrounding all purchase transactions."

Mycroft’s goal for 2017 is to bring Booster Fuels to more office parks, especially in the Plano and Richardson area. There’s still a lot of room to grow both in North Texas and San Francisco, but Booster Fuels could expand to new markets this year, too, Mycroft said.

Fortune 50 companies that have the perk in North Texas are always asking if Booster Fuels could offer the service in other states because it’s such a benefit, Mycroft said.

For now, though, the company wants to take a measured approach to geographic growth, Mycroft said.

Booster Fuels received $9 million in Series A funding in January 2016, led by Maveron. Other funders included the Madrona Venture Group, Version One Ventures and RRE Ventures. The company has received a total of $12.5 million in three years. 

As with any new disruptive technology, there will be resistance. Some California cities say special permits are needed, while others outright banned the refueling trucks for safety reasons. It's similar to the way many cities reacted to Uber, at the request of cab drivers. 

Booster Fuels had to stop delivering in Santa Clara, Calif., early last year but has since resumed operations. The company wants to work with cities, Mycroft said. 

"Booster now proudly holds a half-dozen permits to serve many of the city's major campuses, where we provide hundreds of deliveries daily," he said. 

Booster Fuels also has more competition in the Silicon Valley area with other startups delivering fuel on demand. Mycroft said they're on constantly innovating, automating features on the trucks and training employees. 

January 2, 2017 - 1:15pm