On-demand food delivery app Deliveroo is looking to expand the number of data scientists working at its London headquarters from 150 to 300 as it scales for international growth.
Speaking at Web Summit in Lisbon today (9 November), CEO and co-founder William Shu explained he is searching for individuals with skills in building algorithms as he looks to expand beyond 100 cities and 16,000 restaurants globally.
“One thing about Deliveroo is every time I wake up the market is much bigger than it was before. For the first three years we were solely in London expanding from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, and today we’re in 12 countries and 140 cities.”
The scaling up of Deliveroo’s data capabilities does not, however, signal a move towards automation, drones and robots, said Shu who confirmed the company is not currently working on this technology.
This position is at odds with food delivery competitor Just Eat, whose CEO David Buttress told Web Summit audiences yesterday (8 November) that he would be amazed if a “double-digit amount of its orders” were not delivered by robot over the next couple of years.
The Deliveroo CEO did, however, encourage businesses to start considering the issue before it is too late. “This is not an Uber question or a Deliveroo question, it is a question for society in general. As the world advances and more basic tasks pass to robots, what happens to jobs?” he asked.
“I think that’s a question that’s incredibly hard to answer. There are a lot of different situations – utopian and dystopian – and it is part of our responsibility to determine what the future of work looks like.”
Despite protests in August by dozens of its London couriers against the introduction of a payment-per-delivery structure to replace the payment-per-hour model, Shu insisted that there are many benefits for Deliveroo’s 20,000 drivers in today’s gig economy.
“People want to be able to work when whenever they want. Say if they are an actor or they have another job they can work when they want. So that is super, super important to them.
“And they also do it for the physical exercise, as 80% of our bikers ride bicycles. So for a lot of people their work replaces the gym, which is something I never thought would happen. And lastly they want to earn high fees,” he added.
Bringing down the cost of food
Despite claims that Deliveroo is an expensive service, Shu emphasised his company’s mission is to drive down the cost of the food. This is the reason in April the business introduced RooBox, an off-site kitchen space in London to help restaurants cater to underserved areas of the city. Shu argued that these spaces will give restaurants access to kitchens in cheaper locations, which will reduce overall costs and help with customer retention.
With a background in finance and asset management, Shu explained that his entrepreneurial drive came from a desire to improve the food delivery experience in London compared to New York.
“The number one thing I would say to a new entrepreneur is to do something that really interests you. Don’t just start a business because you think it’s cool to start a business. I’ve seen so many guys obsessed with spreadsheets and markets. But in the end you have to be irrational and have a problem you want to solve.”