01 Feb 2016 University Visual Communication Alumnus and Current Instructor Gets Financial Boost from Ross Perot Jr.
Raul Varela (MFA ’10) is a founding partner of PICKUP and serves as the chief brand officer. PICKUP, an Addison-based on-demand delivery service, has attracted several million dollars from an investment fund co-created by Ross Perot Jr. as well as state and national news coverage in The Dallas Morning News and USA Today.
Founded in 2015 as a service for consumers and for retailers trying to compete with Amazon.com’s fast delivery options, PICKUP transports anything that can fit in the bed of a pick-up truck. The service operates from a smartphone app, and nearby drivers are dispatched to make the pickup. Off-duty firefighters and military veterans, called “good guys,” are contracted by the company and use their own trucks for planned and spur-of-the-moment hauling.
The company started with three longtime business partners including CEO Brenda Stoner, Army veteran and operations officer Aaron Favara, as well as Joshua Sams who serves as the chief technology officer. Varela is heavily involved in all aspects of the day to day business with his partners including setting strategy, hiring, legal and operations.
As a designer, Varela’s biggest and most obvious role is the branding and messaging of the company. His eight person design firm, High Bandwidth, provides all design, web, copy and print services. He manages all vendor relationships and has five designers, one writer and one programmer working on PICKUP.
Varela’s design team also works with the developers and software engineers to continually manage all the assets that need to be developed for the technology. That includes the consumer app, front facing website and driver logistic systems. Varela has been in the business of design for over 20 years and got involved with PICKUP after he transformed his business from a graphic design only business to more of an accelerator/incubator model that invests in burgeoning startups. PICKUP came along as a great idea, and he jumped on the opportunity to become part of it and create something meaningful.
Varela teaches Creative Innovation and Promotional Marketing in the MFA program at Texas A&M University-Commerce in downtown Dallas. There he is able to take the experience that he gains professionally and help his students apply that knowledge in the classroom. Varela credits the knowledge he has gained and the success he has achieved to the MFA program at A&M-Commerce of which he is an alumnus.