A group of British start-up companies are trying to disrupt the food takeaway business, by making it easier for restaurants to deliver, that wouldn't normally consider it.
We’re changing what people think about takeaway.
I’ve got a six-month-old baby asleep upstairs.
We’ve got to be at Nando’s in two minutes.
For over a decade now we’ve been able to order takeaway food with the click of the mouse button. It’s a popular and lucrative business, but recently some new kids have arrived on the block offering a new twist to the formula and doing rather well. They want to bring you food from places that wouldn’t normally not takeaway, whether it’s Nando’s or your favourite Little Italian.
The biggest of these companies in the UK is Deliveroo. To get a 360 view of how this kind of companies works, I took my camera along to hang out with one of their top drivers during the lunchtime rush, not forgetting to stick a camera on his helmet. And I also met up with the boss who came up with the idea.
In our platform, restaurants all they have to do is cook the food and we take it and bring it to people, which means we can work with A) a higher class of restaurant and B) the delivery times are much faster.
The rider I’m shadowing is certainly pretty fast as he pedals down his patch in London Islington. I’m struggling to keep up even though we are both on electric bikes. When the electric bike kicks in, it does help. Luckily our first assignment isn’t too far away. I’m curious to see what kind of customer uses this service.
With Deliveroo you have the ease of a takeaway and I know there’s good restaurants on there. I’ve got a six-month-old baby asleep upstairs in his cot, so I couldn’t leave the house.
I used to work in New York after university and I worked there for three years and I was in investment banking where I had to order food late all the time, but the options were very good. When I moved to London in 2004 I found there to be a lack of quality, you know, takeaway. Yet London actually has amazing restaurants.
So you’ve got an order in, it’s Nando’s in Islington…
Nando is quite a popular one.
We’ve got to speed in Nando’s in two minutes.
The helmet camera lets me see what’s going on inside the restaurant. Somewhere there’s a tablet computer coordinating the booking with the courier’s smart phone. Restaurants pay a commission to Deliveroo for the service.
You got the stuff?
Our customer actually only lives a two-minute walk-away from Nando’s and it’s a glorious day.
That’s sly customer?
Apparently she was working at her desk at home and didn’t want to break her concentration. Meanwhile, our activity has called the attention of a neighbour who quite likes the Deliveroo idea.
My friend who is… is house-bound so it’d be good for him, you know.
Who’s actually using the service?
It’s really… depends on the neighbourhood you’re in. In Mayfair it’s a lot of hedge-funds, people like that. In Shoreridge it’s a lot of single people. You pay the exact same prices as you would in the restaurant plus a ₤2.50 delivery fee.
Our final job involves a visit to the kind of restaurants that Deliveroo really wants to attract, a local Italian that doesn’t normally deliver food.
It’s time for our longest journey yet, ten minutes towards Hackney. It’s a bit of a maze, but we find the flat eventually. It’s another person, Raffal tells me who’s discovered the joys of working from home. Raffal is a man of few words but I feel we’ve bonded during our short time working together. He’s just one of over 700 delivery drivers hard at home in London. Will their pedal power change the way we think about takeaway food?