Julie Tucker
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Creative entrepreneurs: Deliveroo’s CEO delivers too!

The online food delivery company, Deliveroo, has expanded rapidly since its launch in London in 2013. Now operating in 200 cities across the world, the global brand has more than 30,000 couriers, who transport meals directly from restaurants to customers.

With an estimated value of $2 billion and a further 13,000 staff operating behind the scenes, Deliveroo serves customers across the UK and much of Europe and has also expanded to Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

It offers a unique service in delivering restaurant-cooked food, rather than simply takeaway meals, directly to customers’ own homes. Diners can check the status of their order on their mobile phone, so they know exactly when it will arrive.

The premise is certainly proving to be a recipe for success – Deliveroo’s revenue has grown by more than 650% year on year and the company says restaurants who partner with them have also enjoyed a revenue increase of up to 30%, creating new jobs in the sector.

Company’s origins
Deliveroo was the brainchild of American businessman William “Will” Shu. Born in Connecticut in December 1979, he received a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in 2001 and went on to attend Wharton Business School, where he received a Master of Business Administration degree.

Initially working in the New York office of investment bank and financial services company, Morgan Stanley, Shu relocated to London in 2013. On arriving at the capital, he said he found a city full of great restaurants, but was very surprised that most of them didn’t offer home deliveries.

He found there were even fewer options for meals when he was working at night. Subsequently, he decided to make it his personal mission to bring food from the top local restaurants directly to customers’ doors.

This led him to launch Deliveroo, enabling people to order food through its app or website and then have it delivered directly from the restaurant by a courier. The company has the simple slogan, “The food you love delivered to your door.”

Restaurants are charged a commission fee for Deliveroo’s services and customers are charged a fee per order. Deliveroo went on to launch Deliveroo Plus in November 2017, enabling UK customers to join a subscription service offering unlimited free delivery.

Company growth
Shu enlisted the help of his friend, software engineer Greg Orlowski, to start Deliveroo. Determined to be a hands-on boss, Shu worked as the company’s first delivery driver – a job he continued every day for eight months. He said it gave him an opportunity to understand the customers’ experiences.

After operating in London for more than two years, Deliveroo grew steadily, mainly through word of mouth. In 2015, the company expanded to Berlin, Paris and Dublin. By November 2017, it was up and running in more than 150 cities across 12 countries.

Orlowski had been working as Deliveroo’s chief technology officer and had become a company director, but in February 2016, he left the company to spend more time in Chicago with his family, following the birth of his daughter.

Shu has never lost sight of his roots and famously continues to work as a Deliveroo delivery driver, taking on shifts to transport food around London on a regular basis. This gives him up-to-date, hands-on experience of his employees’ day-to-day duties and an opportunity to meet customers in person.

Hands-on management
Shu’s management style of keeping his finger on the pulse, hitting the road even though he’s company CEO, shows his commitment to keeping his employees happy, as well as customers.

Studies show that employees like a boss who is active in his management role. A hands-on manager is typically viewed more favourably by staff than one who manages from afar from the comfort of their office. Leading employees by example typically creates increased success for managers.

Working closely with employees also enables a manager to become more aware of training needs and operational procedures. This in turn motivates employees and can spur greater productivity, as they feel valued as individuals.

A hands-on manager will also enjoy more regular contact with customers, which can help to foster good relationships and gain valuable feedback.

Employee safety
Shu also attaches great importance to keeping his army of delivery couriers safe. The majority of them ride mopeds and in response to increased fears of attacks on moped riders, Deliveroo introduced an app feature, so their drivers can raise any security concerns instantly.

Deliveroo is also running a pilot scheme for helmet cameras to allow the company to gather evidence in the event of any attacks or road traffic accidents, passing on information to the police. In addition, 50 new staff have been taken on across the UK to focus on rider safety.

In December 2017, the company announced its riders would have access to the first UK insurance scheme specifically geared up to on-demand food delivery riders. The riders can enjoy the benefits of accident and sickness insurance cover, while the couriers who deliver by bicycle are offered a pioneering public liability insurance – also the first of its kind in the sector.

Social conscience
Deliveroo has also proved itself to be an ethical and socially responsible company. In February 2019, Deliveroo announced it was banning shark fin dishes. It has removed around 600 such dishes from its platform globally and is committed to never featuring them again in the future.

The ban has been implemented in the wake of growing concerns about the declining shark population. It has been reported that some shark populations have decreased by more than 90% due to over-fishing, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The ban affects more than 180 restaurants advertising on Deliveroo who have been selling shark fin dishes.

Deliveroo has officially signed up to the WWF’s “No Shark Fin” campaign and has committed to taking “shark fin and any related shark products” off its menus.

Deliveroo’s director of policy, Emma Simmonds, described it as an “important step” towards promoting “sustainable food production”. She added, all of the restaurants working with Deliveroo must help in the fight to protect endangered species.

Company’s mission
Deliveroo aims to transform the way customers eat and says the key to its success is having an excellent selection of popular restaurants to choose from, whether people are dining at breakfast, lunch or dinner time. The company is continually innovating and expanding, to fulfil its aim of bringing great food directly to customers in less than 30 minutes.

Deliveroo is driven by British-born technology, including the “Frank” algorithm, which is based on predictive technology that deciphers the most effective way of distributing the orders, based on the location of the riders, customers and restaurants.

The technology also helps the employees to predict how long it will take to prepare the meal. This helps to streamline the overall delivery experience and the company has already reduced delivery times by 20%, so more deliveries per hour can be completed.

New restaurants
Shu is passionate about food and aims to bring people more choice. He also helps restaurants to expand to new areas, identifying the cuisines that customers want locally. If the particular cuisine isn’t available, Deliveroo invests in restaurants specialising in those foods and helps them to set up in the relevant areas.

Restaurants are also given data insights to help them decide which cuisines will be most popular in specific areas, thus giving customers a wider choice and enabling the restaurants to grow faster.

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Get your business off to a flying start by giving us a call on 0800 953 0585 or book a tour at one of our Headspace regional locations to find out more.


Image credit: ©Clare Jackson / Alamy Stock Photo

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