A Chat with Levi Aron from Deliveroo

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Deliveroo is one of the fastest growing hyperlocal marketplaces in the world. Gen George from tamme caught up with Levi Aron, their Australian Country Manager; to talk about both his and Deliveroo’s journey, spending time with customers, managing both sides of the marketplace, and growth.

Watch the video here or look below to read the transcript:

Gen George: G
Levi Aron: L

G: [We’re kicking off] our Facebook lives again. I used to be the founder of OneShift which got acquired last year and now doing tamme with my business partner, Jessica Glenn, and also Skilld. The first one for the season, if you want to call it. We’re kicking off with Levi, the Country Manager of Deliveroo. Now, Levi is going to introduce himself and talk a bit about kind of his startup journey, Deliveroo’s and kind of where things are going and I’m going to start sharing so over to you. 

L: Hey guys, yeah, so I’m the Country Manager of Deliveroo. We’ve been in Australia for just under two years and it’s been phenomenal since we’ve launched here. We launched in Melbourne and Sydney and since then have been growing across all different cities and now operate in nine cities around the country. So, prior to Deliveroo, I worked in startups and tech and also in the restaurant and food tech space and that was something I found was quite exciting. Looking at, you know, foodie nation, the way that we, you know, behave around food. The way that we download our apps and really have a great synergy and affinity towards technology and putting those two things together as Deliveroo became bigger and bigger over in Europe and was something that, you know, I looked at and was very excited about bringing to Australia. So, we’ve done that and it’s been fun ever since doing that. Sitting here today with Gen today going through sort of I guess what our story has been, as well as my own background is something that I hope you guys will find entertaining. 

G: Awesome. Sorry, I barely shared half of them already! So can you tell us a bit about your sort of day one as a leader with Deliveroo to what you’re doing now and how has that evolved and changed?

L: Yeah, it’s been like a massive, massive ride. So day one for us was October 7th 2015. We started in Sydney and Melbourne with about eight people in each city. It was literally like the first day of school. Everyone came in and had their laptop, they had their little notepad, they had their phones, they had all all the different equipment they needed to get started. We all got to know each other, we all worked around a little table and started, really, the battleground of getting out onto the road and talking to people about this concept called Deliveroo. We do food delivery! Walking into fine dining restaurants and telling them that we want to do food delivery. Take their food and deliver it to someone’s home or office. It was very hard. People were saying “You’ve got the wrong thing” and if you want food delivery, go do like Johnny’s Kebabs or Dave’s Pizza and that’s what you want to do. But we’re a fine dining restaurant, don’t come to us. So it was really challenging, I guess, the status quo of the way people perceive delivery. And going out with a very small team was fantastic because the camaraderie and really leaning on each other, whether it was in Melbourne or Sydney or cross city. It was something we were able to do. 

L: As we’ve scaled and it’s become a lot bigger across the country as a success in the repeat sort of business and customers that they ordered once, and ordered twice, and ordered three times and it kept on happening. And the stickiness of the product and the tech took off. That was fantastic, but as we grew, I guess our challenges grew. It was really scaling and scaling across the country. What does that, what does that mean? Both from a business side and rolling out riders all over the country. But also from a cultural side, you know, spending time with our team as our team grew and hiring new people each day as we are a very fast-growing business. 

G: That’s awesome! So I thought we could have a competition and order some food and have a race. I’ve got mine all set up on my computer. So, game on! So, guys, what we’re going to be doing is both ordering food on Deliveroo and seeing whose order wins. If you have any thoughts on what we should be ordering, whack them in the comments below. Otherwise, I think it’s donuts or ice cream!

L: Is that what you want? Donuts or ice cream? I’m thinking something… 

G: What do you reckon?

L: Hmm

G: Or have you had lunch? Is probably a better question.

L: I’m going for a little like Si Ball or something nice and fresh.

G: Yeah, fair enough! Actually, that’s a good idea. Salad Bar actually do some good juices.

L: That’s so funny, that’s what I’m on now. 

G: On, you’re on there? [laughs]

L: Ok, you go have Salad Bar, I’m going to go with something else. 

G: Are you sure?

L: Cool

G: I love that you guys can do the multi coloured app and you can change the app colour. 

L: Yes

G: Yeah, so, what was the decisioning process behind that?

L: So, really, I mean our company in general stands behind diversity, so that’s something that we’ve been quite proud of over the last year or two as we’ve taken a step forward here. And through our own employees and through our own sort of customers that we speak to, but more importantly, as a company, probably speaking to our employees. You know, speaking about diversity in the workplace, thinking about what that means in all different types of levels it’s something that, internally, the company supports and then, therefore, we push that out. And we recently rebranded again to Deloveroo. So if you recently downloaded the app and you have a look, it’s actually called Deloveroo now. And that’ll be for the next while. And then, you know, even when you’re tracking your little rider coming towards you and he is all coloured up and coming to you. And we’ve received some really great feedback from people out there in support of that. And I know that in Australia it’s a very controversial topic. And a lot of different people have different opinions. We don’t really want to get stuck into, you know, that sort of conversation, it’s more about sort of celebrating who we are and, you know, like food, we believe, you know, love should be shared and so that’s something that we wanted to do with Deloveroo now. So, yeah, that’s what we’re doing!

G: That’s fantastic. And, I mean, personally, I agree with it, but obviously there are people who have a different opinion on the situation. How do you guys as a company and as a leader, how do you manage that conversation? By staying out of it, by the sounds of it? Or how do you do you manage that?

L: So we have pretty much an open door policy with a lot of things that we do. So with this topic, nobody came out internally within the company to discuss this and then within our employees around Australia, we basically said to them, “Look, this is what our company believes in and if you have any questions about it, definitely reach out, have a chat with us. We have an open door policy, so you can go have a conversation about that. It’s something that we don’t look at, you know, pushing on emails every single day to our database or something like that.

G: Forcing your opinions on people…

L: No, we don’t want to force our opinions. I mean, our core business and what we focus on is food we do that really well so that’s what we need to focus on. But at the same time, we need to recognise the environment and what’s going on around us so that’s why we put our hand up. 

G: No, that’s awesome. I think it’s great initiative. Buthave you figured out what you’re going to order yet?

L: Yes, I am ordering something, which is a little bit of a surprise. 

G: Oh, really?

L: I will go for this

G: So I’m ordering a green light smoothie from Salad Bar and it’s going to include spinach leaves, coconut water, celery, banana, apple, ice and I’m getting it in a regular. It actually just me– it doesn’t meet the minimum order of 17 dollars but it’s going to get me across, I can add something else in actually.

L: So while you’re doing that, I’ve gone for a little bit of Messina. I don’t think you can go wrong there. 

G: You can’t go wrong there!

L: So, let’s see how this one goes…

G: Oh, mango smoothie. Alright, I’m going to get a mango smoothie as well. I’m sure I can sell that off for free.

L: Ok, tell me when you’re ready

G: Alright, we’re going to check out. Add four dollars to proceed.

L: Good to go?

G: Good to go. Three…y’all go, we’re going [laughter]

L: Are you done?

G: Ah, what’s my expiry, wait. I wouldn’t trust me ordering things online either. Oh no, I think I’m already behind with my internet access.

L: So, you’ve ordered?

G: I’m officially ordered. Awesome. I don’t know what my timer is so we’ll see. Game on. So, while our awesome things are turning up–hi, Kerry, for joining. So, as a leader I think there’s something, you know, a lot of startups have to figure out their own style, what works with their team, and things like that. So how do you–what are the hardest lessons you’ve learned as a leader and what have you changed to, you know, hopefully continue to grow and be a better leader?

L: I think the biggest challenge that we’ve had, and the biggest challenge I’ve had, is scaling our business across. Starting from 8 to 16 people to 80 to 100 people in our businesses across Australia. And that’s huge change in under a year and a half and realising that as we grow really fast and being fast growing and jumping out there and doing what we need to do, that’s fantastic from a business perspective, but from a people’s perspective, we need to look inwards and see it’s great that they’re opening up in new cities and opening up in new areas and bringing thousands of restaurants and writers onto the platform, but what are we doing about our people and how do we be transparent? And remembering, I guess, that we’re part of global business and so, you know, being one of 12 countries has really awesome sides to it. But the other side is also knowing how to, sort of, transcend that information down to everyone on the ground so the things happening in London and in France and Singapore, in different countries that are really relevant to what’s happening in our country. 

So, being able to let everyone know on a regular basis, you know, how we’re tracking as a company. So one of the things we’ve done is internally we release our P&L to employees and so they’re able to see where we are as a business and really have that faith in A where the business is going but B, also, very importantly to know that often when you’re hitting the pavement and you’re doing your work every single day, you don’t necessarily see the bigger picture of what you’re doing and how that really affects you know the lay of the land in Australia or globally. And so by sharing that with our staff, they’re able to see, you know, that when they find a restaurant and they talk to that restaurant and get them on board and for marketing exercises, it works out really well, how it actually hits the bottom line and what difference that makes and by doing that, I guess we’re empowering, you know, our staff and our people to really understand the impact they’re making we know that lots of the time, people are talking about, you know, “How do I measure the impact I make in a business?”. And it’s very hard to do that without having transparency.

G: Oh, definitely, and do you find that the staff you need are attracted to that in the interview process? Do you find that talent by creating an open door policy?
L: So, I think it’s been a moving, moving picture all the way. So, all these things that we’re doing and a lot of things that we’ve done as a business and last probably couple months that have really, you know, changed the way that we do this.  And I guess like any fast-growing startup, you know, you need to prove your concept. You need to get out there, get the product right. Only in the last six months, we’ve been adding like the really important other parts of our business or whether that be, you know, head of people or you know on a global level or thinking about, you know, how how legal needs to work in our business and other sort of sides to our business. So as we’ve grown, I think it’s been learning for everyone and I guess that’s one of the reasons I jump out of bed every day, so every day is going to be different, every day is going to be a challenge. Everyone’s got a different story so it’s really understanding that and making sure that we’re listening. So I guess that’s the biggest part.

G: That’s a really good point. I mean I think people have this perception that you know Deliveroo is this huge global company. How do you think that that’s, versus the decisions you have to make, I mean only having Head of People in the last six months, how do you manage that expectation from customers and people externally versus what you’re doing internally.

L: So, I think it’s really taking out the time to listen to what’s going on when I say listen, I mean listening to I guess our three main pillars, which are restaurants, riders and customers. I do that personally and I still jump out on a bike every couple of weeks and I go ride around for an hour or two and do deliveries and the reason why I do that is not just because I probably don’t get to the gym enough, but also because it’s great because I can see the app see how the app is working and technology updates that we’re continuously doing on a weekly basis. So I can see how that’s performing.
But in addition to that I’m able to also go around and have a look and see how you know the restaurants are perceiving the riders and the conversations they’re having. At the end of the day the riders has been driving, you know, a huge amount of added revenue onto the restaurants by physically riding around and dropping food off. So, do the restaurants engage with riders, do they talk? And how does it feel to be a rider is really important and understanding technology, like I said before. 

But also delivering to customers and knowing what that is to deliver to a customer, climbing up those stairs, knocking on that door, not knowing what’s going to be behind that door, whether it’s a hungry family, or a really grumpy business person, or whatever it may be. And sometimes that might be me, but it’s really, you know, understanding that whole journey and the reason why that’s so important is because we when we come back to the table, come back to the board table, have our meetings, we talk about “How did we do last night with our deliveries?” and we might say that you know 96% of our deliveries were on time, it was fantastic and those four percent that, you know, due to weather or other conditions were a little bit late and we just sort of accept that go “Okay, well, next time we should be a little bit better.” But when you yourself have done that delivery and you know you’ve delivered to someone and that delivery was late because of unforeseen circumstance, you come and say “Well, hang on, that 4%, it’s just not good enough.” I cannot have an experience where someone’s going to deliver and they’re delivering through to someone who’s really disappointed with that late delivery and so that 4% becomes actually a focus point, where before I think it’s very easy to get stuck in zeros and ones and numbers and basically saying, “Yeah, it’s okay. Overall, we’re doing well.” So it brings I guess the humanity back to what we do and it is hospitality and whilst we are, you know, machine learning and algorithms and all that sort of thing, we still need to have that interaction.

G: That’s fantastic. And so with your marketplace, I mean you have lots of different elements, you know, customers, the riders, the career drivers and the restaurants. How do you bring all those elements together to make sure, I mean, double-sided marketplaces is the biggest challenge there is, how to make sure you have enough people in the right place at the right time?

L: Yes, I think it’s boiling down to the algorithms that we have. So, algorithms that we have are both predictive and historical so we’re able to look at a restaurant, for example, that maybe on a Friday night, the prep time that it takes them to make the food might take them 20 minutes or 25 minutes. But on a Tuesday night, it might take them 15 minutes. And by doing so we’re able to take that historical data, put in weather conditions and other conditions and really work out how long should take for the rider to get there and the most important thing for us is to give our customers transparent timing.
So, when you use the app or the website, you’re able to check the time and see they’re 10 minutes away, or 20 minutes away, 15 minutes away… I’d rather tell you something is going to be 40 minutes away and be accurate than tell you 20 minutes away and it takes 40 minutes. And so, using our algorithms continuously and, you know, the machine learnings that we have and the systems that we use, we’re able to work out how many riders are required in different areas and we’re able to communicate with our riders and I think that’s probably a really important part of what we do–that communication with our riders and letting them know, you know, this is how you can earn really well, this is where the peaks are, this is what’s going on. And so, they can then decide, do I want to, you know, jump out of bed or get away from the TV and go do two or three deliveries and then jump back and watch my football team win or whatever it may be.  So people have that flexibility to do that, so it’s taking, I guess, the good old demand-supply and using that on steroids in our environment and chucking some bad weather and a few other sort of variables. 

G: Not all the time!

L: Not all the time, but it depends on which city you’re in. And we did start across in London, where it rains a lot more than it does here in Sydney. 

G: I was going to say, Melbourne would suck. 

L: Yeah, exactly, so when it rains, we could have a 25% spike versus the city that it doesn’t rain in so knowing how to calibrate to that, I guess, is where the technology jumps in.

G: Definitely, and so with I mean all this amazing technology infrastructure we have now obviously is phenomenal to be able to support this kind of company. Day one though,
coming into Australia, how did you make this all work globally?

L: So day one, it was really–Globally,  it started four years ago and that was our founder Will Shu. He spent literally, before he started the business, about nine months on the road as a rider, as a bike rider. And he did that because he wanted to really understand what it is to deliver, sort of similar to what we do now. Because he needed to understand where the pain points are in delivery. You know, it’s been around for 10, 20, 30 years, what can we do differently that’s going to make the customer experience and so what we think about is obsessing over the customer journey. So if you flip back to when we started here in Australia, yes, the hardest thing was getting people to start and join Deliveroo. Nowadays, you put a call out for Deliveroo and we get hundreds of applicants, which is fantastic, but back then it was back to people saying, “Hey, there’s a company called Deliveroo”

G: Crazy concept!

L: Yeah, get food from A to B I mean, at a very light level, that’s what people were thinking. But once you look into it, it’s actually a whole different world going on. They’re really understanding what is happening in the restaurant, what is one cuisine versus another cuisine, bringing great brands that you recognise instead of having a Russian Roulette sort of platform where you don’t know what you’re ordering. So I think that’s where we’ve challenges the status quo, both in terms of our selections and then on service, in terms of how we work with our riders, how our writers deliver, whether it be on a vehicle, it might be on an e-bike, it might be a bicycle, it might be on a moped like nonstick it might be on the vice and I get a five people might be on moped, it might be on a motorbike–all different types of transport generally. So, I think taking all of that into consideration, you’ve got a great selection, you’ve got awesome service and price–making sure we have a really good level of different prices, you know whether you’re looking for high-end, or mid-end. Depending what you want, there’s something for everyone’s palate.

G: That’s awesome. And what about–what’s the best tactic you’ve learnt as trying to get from day one, the quickest growth kind of thing?

L: So growth hacks are really interesting. So, I think…

G: Everybody gets hungry every day, right? [laughter]

L: Right, everybody gets hungry. I mean, I know you mean internally with our development team–it’s quite a large team based in London. I mean, they went into lockdown last year for a good month or two, just to shave off like a minute or two off delivery time. And it doesn’t sound like a lot but it is to hungry or “hangry” customers who’ve been sitting there waiting for food or something’s quite important. So that’s more on the tech side but on the growth sort of hack side, when we first started, it was really literally getting out on the streets, flyering and speaking to people. I think that’s something, when you think about startups, we all have great ideas and I think everyone is talking about this idea, whether it’s local or overseas and we get so caught up in our own ideas that we don’t often get out and speak to the customers or go out in the street and talk to people, I think that’s something that even today is important to do–to go out and understand that language that we can talk to–that narrative, just the general conversation, and as I said before, listening to what customers have to say, riders have to say, restaurants have to say and taking that back.

So, for us, the growth hack was, we used to work from like 9:00 to 5:00 in the office and at five o’clock, it was pens down, everyone put on their delivery jackets and get out there to go flyering on the main streets, whether it be Surrey Hills or Darlinghurst or CBD or Melbourne or anywhere and really start flyering and talking to people. And, obviously, that’s not scalable long term, but when we first started I think it was…

G: For start ups, right?

L: We had to do things that don’t scale. I mean, all of us would hit the phones every single day before we had a customer service team. We’d take the calls every day and we’d go out with our deliveries and our riders because nobody really knew about Deliveroo back then. But these days it’s still keeping in touch with that whilst we scale to be able to jump on and get on the phone with customers or go do a delivery or speak to restaurants face to face so you actually feel their their pain or what they might be going through. 

I think that when you look at Deliveroo in general, those are probably our biggest focus points and unique selling point. Looking at the way that we work with restaurants, our account management, the technology and the amount of developers that we have focused on our three apps–our restaurant app, rider app, and consumer app, the app that we all use. So that’s continuously updating, so it’s super exciting.
G: Yeah, that’s awesome.I mean, obviously with so many different elements plus being a global business with lots of different time zones, how do you, as a leader manage your own stress levels? I guess making sure you’re at the best mental capacity to make the best decisions all the time?

L: I think I don’t know if I make the best decisions all the time–I try to–but I think the trick to that is to surround yourself with really smart people. So I’ve been fortunate enough to do that within our business here in Australia. You know, we have such respect for all people that work within our business and certainly different people bring things that you’d never think about to the table and you cannot expect to cover all the ideas. Surrounding yourself with the right people is number one. I guess, you know, being part of a global company is really exciting. You know, we’re in 12 countries or eleven plus Australia. So looking at those 12 countries, we are able to get quick learning. So if something worked in France, that’s fantastic, let’s roll that out in Australia. But more what we get excited about is the things in Australia that take off and then you may find out that they rolled out it out in Belgium or in Singapore and other places. So you get to have that ability of doing that.

G: Yeah

L: I guess the hard part is is that Australia being nine hours behind London in the winter and eleven hours behind in the summer. When it’s 6 p.m. our time and we’re sort of getting through towards the end of our day, London and Europe are turning on, so we jump on the video calls with all the other GMs or even the staff across our business. We jump on the calls with the sales team or the marketing team or the corporate team or all the different types of teams that we have out there so that we can share those learnings. So it is challenging on that on that side. We balance it up by having a lot of fun in the office. So we can start later in the morning. There’s table tennis or free food on Fridays, or different types of things that we do and we’re always eating so there’s always some food or drink coming through the door.

G: [laughter] Is that the Deliveroo ten kilos when you first start?

L: Yeah, so I’m still working on that and that’s half the reason why I do ride every couple weeks–to sort of work that down. But in terms of really focusing on what we do but also having fun. I mean it’s one of the things that is super important to us, but at the same time, you know, it is challenging working with this timezones.  

G: So mental health as a leader, with so many time zones and working with so many different elements, what do you do to kind of keep this…

L: Yeah, so I think mental health is quite, obviously, personal. So everyone’s got their own for ways of dealing with having space or doing different things. But in our company we do meditation twice a week and we have yoga once a week, so we do that in each of our offices. I think that helps people to stop and realize that it’s okay to stop. It’s okay to just take some time out. On a personal level, me just sort of jumping out there and and going riding and doing that it’s great for me, but also, I do like to walk to work when I can and do other sort of stuff to sort of think about other things apart from being in front of a screen 24/7–because I probably am in front of a screen or if not, connected to one in my hand. So I think switching off is really, you know, something that I’m pretty focused on. On the weekends, trying to switch off as much as possible but the, you know, during the week I’m pretty wired…

G: Yeah, so what do you do to keep learning as a leader as well?

L: So, we just released across the Australia and globally this opportunity for our staff to learn. So there are new courses that we have out there. We initially put four courses out internally but we partnered up with another agency who can do courses for our staff. So our staff, including myself, can jump on there. You don’t necessarily have to choose a course that is you know related directly to work. You might want to learn about leadership or knitting, you might want to learn about public speaking, even if you’re someone who has nothing to do with public speaking…

G: I’m on route! [laughter]

L: Oh, you’re on route? Let’s have a look-see.

G: I’m doing status update, maybe I can show you. Oh, sorry, I’ll get you a screen first.

L: So here we are, on the way, coming towards… Let’s see what happens.

G: I’m on the desktop version… so, no idea, but 2.30 to 2.40 for an
estimated delivery. Have you got an estimation?

L: Yeah, it says… so what does that make it? 2.35?

G: Oh, it might be bloody close! Just saying. So then with hiring people, obviously having the right people on the team makes a huge difference to a businesses’ success. How do you attract the right people without having a brand before where you guys are now?

L: Yeah, so I think attracting the right people is tough, like in terms of culture just manifesting, having great culture. Being in the food space, one of the things we find is that we’re working with a lot of corporates and we go out there and talk about ordering Deliveroo. We find that, you know, with big corporates out there, the first thing that goes into the office is the kitchen, because office space comes at a premium. One of the things that we talk about when we talk to offices is it’s not necessarily that slide, or table tennis, or some sort of activity, but just eating food with each other really makes that difference–talking to each other, getting away from the screens.

I think when you talk about culture and the average age in our company in Australia is 27 years old, 28 years old, so for most people, it’s their first, second or third job. Really passionate people who want to get out there and do things. So we look at different people’s energy and the way some people are more sociable than other people, so we need to look at that quite carefully. It’s all about having common goals in terms of what we want to do. We’re a fast-growing company and many people come to us and they tell us. You I ask them, “Why do you want to join Deliveroo?” and often the answer is “Because, I’ve been working in corporate all my life and it’s too structured for me. I’m really looking at Deliveroo as fast-growing and I want that freedom to go out there and do different things and not have that sort of structure.”

It’s funny because two weeks later you talk to them in the office and they go, “I don’t understand, there’s no structure in here. How can I do anything?” “Well, we told you there’s no structure and we’re trying to learn how to different things ourselves, though I believe we’re getting a lot better.” But it is really about understanding as an individual who we are, we look at our values and our values are about being straightforward and being respectful. So you can be straightforward and call something out that you don’t agree with but be respectful about it. We’re all there for a common goal and we are very passionate people in our company and sometimes the KPIs are competing with each other. But, at the same time, recognise that and learn how to be respectful. You know, having fun as well is a big part of it as well. If you’re not into having fun then you won’t really fit into Deliveroo. 

But really, our top value is give a shit–really, really care. You know, it sounds like all airy-fairy but every day, we’re dealing with technology, we’re working with riders and it’s a very passionate space and people care about the food. It’s very timely–you need to care, don’t be complacent alright, like think about everything that’s around in the environment. Look at better ways of leveraging to make you jump out of bed and make you get more energetic. So I think we go through that sort of process as we speak to people and really see what drives them. I hope that we make the right decisions and so far I would say that I think we have. 

G: So, you’ve got a question from Jess Glenn, my buddy at Tamme. “Have you seen an uptake in productivity since introducing the unlimited courses? What’s the most left-field course that someone on the team has done?” And I’m assuming besides knitting.

L: Yeah, there’s been a really big upsurge and we’ve been talking about this now in the company for about six months. And when you’re dealing with a big company that has over 1,500 employees globally, it’s a big thing to roll out. Getting the right sort of partner involved and the courses that are available was a big deal to do. But now that we’ve done that, I think we’ve had about 200 people enroll in courses already. So that’s really exciting and that’s globally. Here in Australia, I think it’s sitting at about 15 or so and we’ve launched this about three weeks ago. People are also not joining too quickly because there are hundreds of courses to choose from, so rather than push people just to do a course– and some courses are a month and some courses are eight months, so you need to choose which one is right for you. We’ve had people getting into– all of our technology is based out of London, so don’t have any developers here in Australia, but in London has a massive team over there.  But we’ve got people who put their hands up, who want to learn how to do Python, which is coding in and learn how to understand more data analytics. 

So that’s the sort of stuff you might expect from a tech company but in Australia, we’re part of marketing and sales and operations and not all those, the types of different roles, are going for the same sort of courses that you’d expect them to. Having said that, a lot of people are looking at leadership, so they want to do courses on how to be a good leader. And these are people who may not be a leader or manager, these are people who have a high aspirations and they want to know how to join the dots, how to get to the next level. So that’s something that going really, really well and each week I get an update of how many people applied and what the courses are. How about we stay in contact and I’ll show you some of the really interesting ones that come out.

G: Yeah, awesome. So, I mean, this kind of value added stuff and the services staff get are fantastic, but there are a lot of day one startups or first couple of year startups that watch this sort of stuff. From your learnings, what would you do now if you were starting again? What would be manageable and what could you afford at that stage?

L: Yes, I think also looking at what we do and understanding the size of our business–I think it also draws back to focusing on one thing. So really, really focusing often and I’ve been involved in other startups before and you often get this urge when you have a start-up, where you’ve got one or two people within your business and you think how do we scale really quickly? How do we start off here in Sydney and grow that massively and be across Australia and globally or look at the business itself?

I think this is my driver call me. Hold on. 

L: So I wonder what Gen’s going to eat. I didn’t really see her menu. She’s getting mango smoothies, one large, and a light green drink from Salad Bar. So I went with Messina, I think that’s going to the trick. She’s probably going to have mine, but she’ll be back in a second. But, yes, so there has been uptake, not just in productivity but also in terms of just this excitement around learning around sharing and understanding…

G: You’ve won!

L: I’ve won? Thank you, come on. Here we go. You’re on camera. So what do you have, mine or yours?

G: I think it’s yours. Oh no!

L: Say hi to the camera! Awesome. So I have a little bit of Messina happening here. I think yours is on the way. So we can share this with you. I’ll have a little look and I can be polite and wait until Gen’s food turns up.

G: So Jess’ question is, “What does the onboarding process look like for Deliveroo?”

L: So if we’re talking about employees, so onboarding is really understanding, you know, what we’re doing in our business. So, I think what we often forget is that we assume everyone knows what we do business. You know, we deliver food from one restaurant to a customer. But what we do through onboarding is week one, you need to ride a bike and do some deliveries yourself so you can actually understand that experience and appreciate what we do. Week two, you need to be jumping on the customer service line, so either you’re talking to restaurants that are calling up or speaking to riders who might be having issues, maybe something went wrong with their GPS and they can’t find where they’re going. Or speaking to customers about where their food is. 

So, it’s really important that you do you work as a rider and get on the phone. Internally, we try and match you up, so if you come in as an Account Manager, you’ll be working with restaurants. We try and pair you up with someone in operations, who is working the rider’s and all the metrics that we look at. We try and share that around. It has become a lot more challenging as as we’ve grown and opened up offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. But as we do that, we do have times where we bring people from different cities to the head office, which is based in Melbourne, and they’re able to sort of jump into the different areas so that’s the first part. Obviously ordering food is a big part of it as well. We order food for the office every week and if you’re a new employee, you probably get to order food for the whole office and see if you make friends or don’t make friends. So that’s always fun, but yeah.

G: This is from Carris, “What has surprised you about Deliveroo customers so far, besides their love of food?”

L: Yeah, so what surprises me about Deliveroo customers in general is that… Oh, your food’s coming now. Food’s coming left, right and centre here, it’s all happening. But what surprised me with the customers specifically is that the majority of our customers haven’t really come from a background of ordering food. Their lifestyle didn’t necessarily dictate to them you know, the need to use a delivery service every single day of the week. 

G: You’re the winner! But I’m lucky last.

L: Oh, here we go! Awesome, thank you very much. Have a good day! See you. 

G: Yes [laughter]

L: So now we both have our food. But yeah, the majority of our customers in the last year, since we launched in Australia, had never ordered delivery before or maybe once a year. And now they’re coming back weekly, or more than weekly, every second day, or every day. And so, that surprises me. I thought, coming onto the market with a really strong product and really great offering or selection of restaurants and great service, that we would get many different people from existing platforms, who would jump across and come to Deliveroo. That has happened but the majority of our customers are from word-of-mouth and seeing our great riders, that you’ve seen today, riding around on the streets, piquing their interest and going, “Hey, what’s going on over there, who is that?” Word-of-mouth is the most powerful thing and that’s how we grew in UK, through word of mouth, and then also here in Australia, word of mouth is really what drives us. So in terms of that customer experience, the 80 percent of our customers hadn’t ordered delivery before. But by last year, it hasn’t stopped coming. It’s very, very sticky. 

G: If anyone wants some free ice cream, if you bring up some spoons to the Level 2 Boardroom, it’s here. We have bribes! Otherwise, mango smoothie.

L: Cheers!

G: Cheers! We lost, no! So do you always win on the racing delivery?

L: No, so we often put it up there for tests and I say I don’t win, but someone else in the office wins. But yeah, we love doing that. We always look at where we’re going, obviously we build out areas that we deliver in so you know, kitchen to customer is about six minutes. if you’re looking at your ordering time, it might say 25 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on the type of food you’re ordering. All of the food is fresh, it’s just made straight away, so we want to understand the prep times. But being that we work on our areas so that they’re only going to be a few kilometers radius from you when you order. It’s really important to our partners that we do that. They care about their product, they care about the way that it travels without spilling or that the ice cream hasn’t melted.
G: You know, it’s really surprising that nothing’s gone anywhere. 

L: Exactly. We care about the product because we know our restaurants do, as do the customers. So we’re able to really have that in a very short amount of time and it’s something that you know we look at–why customers order and reorder because they can look at the app they can trust the app. They look at it and go, “25 minutes, great.” They can jump in the shower, finish their shower and the food is there. I travel a lot, so I usually order when I land in a city. So by the time I get home or to the office, right when I’m getting out of the taxi, the food is there. 

G: Yeah, that’s awesome. And has there ever been any interesting stories of deliveries?

L: Yeah, so there may be some that I probably can’t see on camera but otherwise what’s really interesting is that–this hasn’t happened to me–but you can actually write notes when you’re ordering food and when you order food. So you could write third floor or second door on the right. So we’ve had quite a few interesting notes in the morning saying, “ Hey, can you please pick up some Panadol on the way, I’ll give you $10 tip.” We don’t endorse these things but the messages come through and people write funny things to the riders to try and you know incentivise and help them get out of trouble, so that’s always fun.

G: Have you had anyone locked in the broom or something accidentally and call Deliveroo?

L: We’ve had a rider locked in an elevator. So he got in the elevator and it started going up but because he didn’t have a pass, he couldn’t get out. So he was going up and down and up and down.And because it was a late night, there wasn’t anyone on deck. But eventually we worked it out by calling the customer, but yeah there’s lots of different fun and stories that happen and I guess that’s what you get when you go out there and ride. With the riders, you have to hear their stories first hand, what’s going on, whether it’s a flat tyre and a drama or when they knock on a door and it’s a house party. The customers are like, “Hey, come in and have some food with us!” and the rider might say, “Yeah, I can, but not for long.” I guess that’s the flexibility of being a rider. Can stop for five minutes and have a party and then get back on the bike, so yeah, there’s lots of fun and good things to have.

G: That’s awesome. So for day one startups, what are three things you think they should know or do before starting or while they’re just starting.
L: Yeah, so going back to what I said before is focus on what you do really well. Focus on your core. You know we just do food delivery, we do food and drinks and we’re not going to step out of that. We’re not going to start delivering pharmaceuticals and other sort of small packages or or utilise the rider fleet in different ways. It’s about focusing on food and you know in any other startup I’d say the same thing. Focus on your core, get that right. You’ll always have a temptation to get out there and like maybe add this feature on at that feature on. “Maybe instead of just being here in Surrey Hills, or wherever it may be, maybe we we can try opening up in three different states and once and get that big spread.” But yet, you don’t really have any customers on board or you haven’t learned. So I would think, focus on what you do, stay small and really excel and do well out of that, get returning customers. As you see that, start to build your business. Butt also, I think pricing and cost is really important . I speak to many different startups who start off with, you know, the free model. They want to get it out there, get people using it, start looking at data and all that type of stuff and they do that for three, six, nine months. And then it comes to that hard point. They’re like “ Okay, this is great. We have hundreds, if not thousands of users. I think we can monetise so I’m gonna start charging per delivery or whatever it may be or subscription or whatever you might do.” So it’s really big sleepless nights about what you might charge. And then often people go in too low, they charge a dollar a month or whatever it is. The hardest thing to do is to increase prices, but also people perceive value. I mean, if you’re giving us and building a premium product that you’ve thrown your life into, charge accordingly. Don’t rip people off but charge accordingly and set that price right. If you think you overshot the mark a little bit you always do two-for-one deals or buy now for three months but always maintain your your price because at the end of the day, if you get if you do stop charging, and you lock yourself into a really low amount, you’ll never be able to be profitable and all that work that you did–it will be as cheap today and tomorrow someone will beat you because they’ll be cheaper. If that’s your unique selling point, your cheapness, then you’re probably not going to last very long
G: That’s awesome. And lucky last question, it’s one I always ask. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

L: A superpower. Probably, I don’t know if it’s a superpower, but being able travel in time and go back and probably correct some of the things that I probably should have done a little bit better.

So I think everyone’s got something we could do better. I probably wouldn’t want to go too much further in time. I think not knowing what’s ahead of you is part of what we are as human beings and it is that challenge of not knowing what’s ahead of you. Knowing all the answers– there’s no fun in that. I think we need to make mistakes, we need to fail so we can understand what it is to succeed and the challenges that are there. Without that, I think we take for granted and we lose that edge–we’re always fighting against what tomorrow will bring. So yeah, that would be to go back in the past and then come back to the present.

G: That’s awesome. Thank you so much for coming on, I really appreciate it. I can say cheers for winning, by the way.

L: Cheers. And thanks Gen for being awesome! I’m going to enjoy my Messina and have some fun!

G: Bye!