(Photo via @PhillyMayor)
On the first floor of the Philly-bred delivery startup’s home base: 15,000 square feet of warehouse space crammed with snacks, drinks, rolling papers and hookah supplies. On the second floor, the 7,000-square-foot office with bare columns and freshly installed skylights where the company’s marketing, business and dev teams moved at the end of January.
And now that most rough edges have been smoothed over, the company had Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney drop by on Tuesday morning to get a quick tour of the space and cut a symbolic ribbon, like other tech startups around Philly have done. So why goPuff?
“It’s a young expanding company in Philly that’s in many cities around the country with an interesting concept that I would have never thought of,” Kenney said. “It’s a great success story for Philadelphia.”
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) July 11, 2017
When asked what freebie he’d pick from the company’s snack-filled warehouse, Kenney stayed unsurprisingly on message: “Probably a beverage. That’s how we pay for schools.”
Kenney said a meeting with the founding duo was focused on coordination with the City over parking and other issues. “We’re making sure they understand that there’s a friendly face in Commerce and the City that will address their problems,” Kenney said.
(A Reddit post from last August shows some locals aren’t too pleased with the warehouse as a neighbor.)
Cofounder Gola said the founding duo spoke to Kenney about getting another loading zone and coordinating employee parking around the area.
goPuff’s growth spurt of late was turbocharged last year via an $8.28 million Series A from Menlo Park, Calif.-based investment firm Anthos Capital, a follow-up to a previous investment. The delivery service is currently available in 19 markets, with plans to expand to four more across Illinois and Indiana by August.
The cut-throat delivery space, which has gobbled up startups both local and national, is looking even more savage these days what with Amazon’s massive, seemingly unstoppable growth. Ilishayev looks unfazed and quickly offers a strategy to keep goPuff alive in the long run.
“By focusing on our customer and our brand: we’re not in the business of chasing volume,” Ilishayev said. “We’re the fastest on-demand service in the country because we have that one single pickup point.” Ilishayev points to diapers as an example: yes, they’re available on the platform but aren’t advertised on the app because the item isn’t a millennial staple (yet).
Part of that strategy, cofounder Gola adds, is hopping aboard trends quickly: the startup sold 3,000 fidget spinners on the first day the product was available. “It’s about surprising users: you’ll go on the app and see a new category,” he said. (Like sex toys, for example.)
Ilishayev also spoke about the process of getting into the beer delivery business. “It’s been long and painful, but we’re proud to say that two and half years later we have liquor licenses in 10 markets and have not been cited once.”