On-demand · Startups

On-Demand Food Delivery: What sets you apart from the rest?


September 15th, 2015

The On-Demand market is growing rapidly, especially in the On-Demand food delivery sector. What is it specifically about a company (marketing, ops, tech) that can truly set one apart from the rest? (ie. Chewse, Blue Apron, Munchery, Spoonrocket) 

David Crooke Serial entrepreneur and CTO

September 15th, 2015

I'd say ops, specifically delivery time .... here in Austin we have two long standing companies Dine on Demand and Eat Out in, and delivery time is typically an hour. Good usability on the website always matters.

Ben Brooks Head of Product at VolunteerSpot, Inc.

September 15th, 2015

There are a number of players in the on-demand food delivery market, so would be helpful to understand which model you're focused on or is the question related to which business model do we think is best?

You have Doordash and Postmates who will deliver food from any restaurant, regardless of whether they have a "relationship" with the restaurant.

On the other hand you have GrubHub, Eat24, Caviar and others who only deliver from restaurants they have a relationship with

Then there is UberEATS, which partners with a handful of restaurants and offers one or two dishes from each. I believe they basically load up their drivers with the meals and drive around waiting for orders vs. receiving orders and picking them up from the restaurant/kitchen

Chewse is office focused meal planning and delivery.

Blue Apron delivers ingredients and recipes, so the user is still preparing the food.

Munchery delivers food from a limited menu that they create and cook themselves.

I believe Spoonrocket is similar.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

September 15th, 2015

While there needs to be basic ops competency, in the long-run it's going to be about the food/food experience. If this is going become a thing (meaning, it makes a serious dent in how mainstream consumers source their food), $30-$40 for dinner for two isn't going to work.

None of these companies will be doing their own delivery in two years and a lot of the latent competition will come to market. Not only Amazon Fresh et al (to compete with the Blue Apron model), but restaurants *have* to get into the game once there's (a) scale and (b) someone builds an efficient overlay for them.

One of the most exciting areas [at least for me... I've started working on the idea a couple times and always get pulled on to something else] is to incorporate consumer control/creativity in the process. There is true joy in cooking - especially the creative expression and getting recognition for that. But of course most people aren't very good at cooking and the purchase, prep and cleanup make it a non-starter for most. But combine efficiency and low cost with creativity and that's worth building a core competence in.

Hoofar Pourzand PhillyTalent.com

September 16th, 2015

Your scalability and specialization at the same time. You have to have "focus" in some sense and at the same time be able to scale that up. Food delivery is relatively a low margin business for the most of the business models that were mentioned in the past posts. With high fixed labour costs in every cycle of the service this overhead would stress most starters out of their initial conviction. I'll be happy to give you more ideas if you have a more clear model to discuss. (My response here is not a hypothetical one- I actually do on demand delivery with a team of 16 delivery staff in food services but we have also studied most of the current competitors' business models).

David Still Founder of Start-ups, Entrepreneur, Financier and Advisor

September 15th, 2015

Branding, positioning and customer care - and live up to EVERY promise ever made to a customer. Customer is King and Queen. Make every customer pleasantly surprised every time they get a delivery so they say "wow" - every time (QVC model). Every satisfied customer will ultimately communicate good things about you to 64 other potential new customers and vice versa for bad experiences- per studies. Also, personally as CEO drive with the delivery truck and meet different customers a few times a month. Tasty Baking successfully did this for decades. Check out how Nordstrom's does it. Good luck.

Andy Horvitz

September 16th, 2015

Michael:  That's why I parsed the differentiators into both customer and business viewpoints.  You're right about the customer sentiment, but since the OP was inquiring as to differentiation among the businesses, those that succeed will be the ones who scale efficiently.  

Yes, product comes first - which is both food quality, value, and fast delivery (efficiency).  But one can't overlook $.30/meal at the scale the businesses operate.

Gilbert Stouvenot Retired President/Chef/ at Fine Food-to-Go, Inc.

September 15th, 2015

There is a better way that would get the Wow each time!

Thirty years ago, I invented the first insulated, reusable and returnable food carrier to serve ready to eat dinners at home.  It was the real thing, just sit down and enjoy. It was designed to replace Mom’s cooking because she had bolted out of the kitchen. It was the right idea, but way ahead of time.  A real Cook, will not allow his /her food to have something done to it before it is eaten.  That’s what I have been trying to accomplish with my CaterBox® food carrier.  Today, with my kitchen, strategically located so my customers can drive by and do the pickup, we offer the ultimate convenience in obtaining hot food completely ready and safe to eat at home. Just sit down and enjoy! And because there are no delivery and no dining room expenses, it is the most affordable. The food is preorder and prepaid on the website so I know ahead what to buy and how much. It is reserved for members of the Real Joy of Not Cooking Club and we are not trying to please everybody, everywhere at all time because we are specialist so we can make more money…  (Adrian Slywotzky “The Profit Zone”)

I am an old French Chef not yet retired and my objective has always been to improve the lifestyle of my customers by providing three of the most precious commodities in modern society: Convenience, Nutrition and Time.

My proprietary concept is a triple “P”. Profit for the consumer, providing healthy nutritious food, profit for the environment and profit for the investor.

At this time my kitchen is closed trying to raise capital to re-open and launch a licensing chain. 

Andy Horvitz

September 16th, 2015

Ben nailed the differentiation among those businesses. With Blue Apron and the like, you need to order days in advance, so I'd argue it doesn't belong in the same category of "on demand" solutions.

From the customer's standpoint, the meaningful differentiation is around quality, value, and service (speed!).

On the business side, while marketing and customer acquisition are vital to the success of the venture, the top performers will separate themselves from the pack with highly scalable and efficient production and delivery operations.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

September 16th, 2015

I largely disagree that efficient production and delivery are the keys to differentiation. Yes, obviously you need some competency there or you can't do do anything, but squeezing out an extra $0.30/meal doesn't mean anything if your food is boring or worse. And much of the food being delivered is pretty sad relative to restaurant food... and rest assured that's what consumers will compare it to.

I can't remember the last time I heard someone say "OMG, have you been to Alfredo's? Throw any lambdas at them. They're awesome."

Ben Brooks Head of Product at VolunteerSpot, Inc.

September 16th, 2015

Also, Michael some of the players in this broad space will deliver anything from any restaurant, so the idea that the food being delivered doesn't compare to what restaurants offer doesn't apply to everyone. 

As Hoofar alluded to we need to focus on one model before we can effectively discuss what we think the key differentiator is in that space. 

Sadie - What is your focus? 

Personally, I'm most interested in companies like Doordash, Postmates, etc. who are focused on delivering anything. UberEATS is interesting in that they partner w/restaurants and offer a limited number of on-demand options. 

I think the key for consumers will be customer service, which encapsulates quite a bit but making it easy to order, delivering the food in good shape (temp, not smashed, etc.), communicating via the app or directly w/driver and having a generally positive experience is critical. 

If I can order the same pizza from Joe's Pizza Shack from Doordash or Postmates whoever delivers faster and makes the experience more fun and/or easy probably wins. 

The other half is the relationships with the restaurants and making sure they are willing and happy partners. That appears to be a challenge Doordash and Postmates are still trying to figure out as if they are truly going to delivery anything it is impossible to establish relationships w/every restaurant up front, but how do you react when an angry, confused restaurant calls you up and asks why you're using their logo, an old menu and sending in people to pick up food for other people and nobody is tipping their waitstaff?