A BITE OF THE START-UP CHERRY In three years, the food delivery app Deliveroo has grown from a two-man startup to a global empire in 12 countries and 65 cities with a staff of 5,000 BY RYAN YOUNG
t was a grumbling belly that inspired Will Shu, then an investment banker with Morgan Stanley, to come up with the notion of Deliveroo. The food delivery app connects hungry customers wanting a decent takeaway meal to a global network of drivers, who then pick up food from their favourite restaurant and bring it to their door. The company’s co-founder Shu came up with the idea after he was transferred from New York to London in 2004 and quickly became disenchanted with the range and unreliability of food he could order to his office. From that seed grew a business which now serves thousands of hungry customers in 65 cities on three continents, with orders increasing tenfold since January last year. The service has just launched in Dubai and is poised to spread across the Middle East. “In my former life I worked very long and tough days and I got introduced to the wonderful world of food deliveries,” says the 36-year-old entrepreneur. “In New York you can get anything you want delivered, any time. In London, I immediately noticed there were really no good food delivery options. I was hungry.” Existing delivery services such as Just Eat did not match up to his experience in New York, he says. “There was no great food quality, the delivery time was all over the place – it could take 40 minutes or two hours – and I was left with a very bad customer experience.”
MAY / JUNE 2016
It sparked the idea for Deliveroo, which operates as a gobetween. Rather than relying on restaurants' often patchy in-house delivery service like so many other apps, Deliveroo employs a global network of more than 5,000 delivery drivers to pick up the food and deliver it to your door. This both speeds up and standardises delivery times—and means for the first time, customers can order from restaurants which do not offer a delivery service. It took some time for the sapling of an idea to bear fruit. Shu spent three years at Morgan Stanley in New York before moving to London, then transferred to a hedge fund two years later. It was not until 2010 that he abruptly walked away from life in the City. “I had a disconnect from my work,” says Shu. “It was just about money and nothing else, which I did not find very satisfying.” Looking for a new direction, the Connecticut native enrolled in a two-year business masters degree at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His return to the US gave him the chance to reconnect with his childhood friend Greg Orlowski, a software developer who brought Deliveroo to life on screen. The pair launched the business in London in February 2013 targeting individual neighbourhoods first. For the first few weeks, Shu was the only delivery driver, a role he kept up for
Published on May 1, 2016
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