DoorDash & The Myth of Profitable Food Delivery

food delivery is a simple business. While the market today is dominated by DoorDash, Uber Eats, Delivery Hero, and a few others, back in 2014, food delivery and the gig economy were just emerging in Silicon Valley. Back then, the barriers to entry were so low that anyone could open up their own food delivery business in a matter of weeks with just a few thousand dollars and a website.

food delivery seemed such an obvious million dollar business that as a starry-eyed 20 year old at the time, I left college to start a food delivery company, joining many others in the gold rush. The market in 2014 was wide open for the taking. DoorDash had not yet become a household name, UberEats was just spinning up, and GrubHub was used for looking up restaurant menus online.

Six years after my startup, it’s been interesting to see the continued hype of food delivery companies around the world even though everyone knows that the unit economics just don’t work. When you have to rely on tips to pay a livable wage to drivers, it’s obvious that there is something fundamentally broken with the business model.

In this episode, we’re going to look at the four biggest food delivery companies around the world from DoorDash, UberEats, Delivery Hero, and Just Eat. What are the strategies that these companies believe will lead them to profitability? Are these just fantasies spun for investors and which companies have made the most progress?

0:00 Delivered to Your Door
3:00 Chicken or the Egg
4:40 Once Bitten, Twice Shy
7:46 Hard Truths Cut Both Ways
9:03 DoorDash, Dashers, & Unit Economics
14:19 Unorthodox Measures of Profit
19:17 Frequency, not Margins
23:14 Same Tide, Same Boats


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