WHS Graduate Earns a Trial Run with Target for Startup


Courtesy of Runnera

Runnera Co-Founders (from left to right) Niel Patel, Sam Lerdahl, Josh Chang, and Bharat Pulgam. Runnera expects to gain exposure through a trial with Target and the University of Minnesota.

Sam Lavely, Sports Editor

  Bharat Pulgam graduated from Wayzata High School in 2017. Since then, Pulgam has already created two operating companies, including an app called “Runerra” which recently received a trial run from both Target and Caribou. During high school, he started a headphone business called Mxrs with fellow Wayzata students, but he has now put that behind him.
  Pulgam said Mxrs is on track to sell, saying “we’re looking to close up Mxrs by early next year.”
  “Runerra is a community marketplace that allows you to see all of your friends running errands,” said Pulgam.
  Pulgam and his partner, Sam Lerdahl, came up with the idea while Lerdahl was sitting in his dorm and Pulgam was running errands. “I knew Bharat was on his way and I wanted some junk food… I did what anyone else would do and texted him to grab some stuff,” said Pulgam.
  Runerra is an app that makes this entire interaction a little easier. When someone within a community goes out to run errands, they can start what the company calls a “run.” Once this happens, everyone else in that community gets a notification saying that someone is out and willing to pick things up.
  Runerra is a one-stop shop to place your order and pay for what you have requested. Runners (those running errands) are able to set their own run fee, receiving payment in full for what they have purchased for the other person and being paid for their service.
  According to Pulgam, it is about a 30 minute process.
Pulgam explained what these ‘trial runs’ entail. “Target pays for the run fee and they are going to sponsor 750 runs over the next two months at the University of Minnesota.”

Runnera’s app layout

  Runerra is hoping to make sure that sponsored runs work effectively and efficiently.   “We’re offering restaurants and retail-sponsored runs to make sure they work and are effective,” said Pulgam.
  By having companies sponsor these runs, Runerra hopes to create a positive connection through both the use of their app, as well as improve sales at the stores that are sponsoring their runs.
  “We have an API Stripe, which creates an account for users and we are able to see how money flows through that,” said Pulgam. The use of this stripe will allow both Target and Runerra to review the effectiveness of their partnership for the future.
  A trial run with a large company such as Target is a big step forward for the currently small company. Pulgam said that they’re working within the University of Minnesota campus, they hope to expand.
  “Once we are able to, we are looking to expand to hospitals and corporate campuses,” said Pulgam.
  Securing a partnership with a company like Target certainly could propel Runerra to this aspired growth, as they are also working on deals with Caribou and other retailers.
  Pulagam said, “I decided to take a break from everything I was working on at the time and focus my energy on Runerra. I dropped out of school to do it and want to focus my time on something I believe I can do well. “