Glovo cofounder on becoming an essential service during coronavirus

  • Spanish delivery company Glovo has seen a boom in its services during the coronavirus pandemic and wants to use the momentum to continue into more social good projects. 
  • The startup has a unicorn valuation having raised more than $500 million since 2015 but wants to become self-funded going forward. 
  • “Things like delivering groceries, getting medication to the elderly and those who weren’t able to go out has shown we have become essential to society,” Sacha Michaud, Glovo’s cofounder, told Business Insider in an interview. “It’s a wake-up call as a founder, we should be doing this all the time, not just in crisis.”
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Spanish delivery company Glovo has seen a boom in its services during the coronavirus pandemic and wants to use the momentum to continue into more social good projects. 

The startup has a unicorn valuation having raised more than $500 million since 2015 but wants to become self-funded going forward. Glovo naturally took a hit during the Covid-19 lockdown which hit key markets in Italy and Spain in recent months but has seen activity return to pre-coronavirus levels in recent weeks, according to Sacha Michaud, Glovo’s cofounder. 

Grocery deliveries and distributing essential medicines to people during the crisis has helped entrench an ethos of social good within the company and something to consider going forward. 

“Things like delivering groceries, getting medication to the elderly and those who weren’t able to go out has shown we have become essential to society,” Michaud told Business Insider in an interview. “It’s a wake-up call as a founder, we should be doing this all the time, not just in crisis.”

The company is one of many food-delivery services operating globally, but one that has consciously chosen to target markets off the radar of industry giants like the UK’s Deliveroo and Uber Eats, focusing on areas such as Kenya, Ukraine, and Peru. The food-delivery market itself is worth an estimated $35 billion globally — and predicted to hit $365 billion in a decade.

The Spanish delivery startup recently raised $167 million in a fundraising round led by Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, sovereign-wealth fund. Glovo has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that Southern Europe’s VC scene is smaller than that of London, Paris, and of course the US and China, making funding rounds supposedly harder to come by. 

“We have always done more with less and we will have to do even more with less,” Michaud added. “We made a conscious decision end of last year saying it would be great to depend on ourselves as soon as possible.
We think market is more focused profitability and we want to use our latest round to get to profitability.”

While, naturally, Glovo didn’t see the pandemic coming, the company has managed to shift its services towards helping essential workers and providing protection for its estimated 50,000 riders. Other providers like Deliveroo and Uber Eats now offer grocery delivery within their services with the former partnering with supermarkets in the UK including Morrisons and Aldi while Uber Eats has also fast tracked similar initiatives worldwide.

The firm employs 1,500 people globally and recently entered the Polish market, acquiring Pizza Portal in a $40 million deal. Data from UBS in 2018 indicates that Glovo is beating several bigger rivals in terms of app downloads in Spain and Italy, and that it’s share is growing.

Glovo has placed 5% of its Spain-based team on temporary leave during the crisis, as well as other non-essential roles for the moment. The company estimates that some 70% of its partners were forced to close overnight in February and March when lockdowns were introduced in Southern Europe. 

While the company has currently enacted a hiring freeze in some roles, particularly marketing, Michaud wants the startup to double down on key markets and continue to work with NGOs and charities going forward, beyond coronavirus. 

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