Mayor Kenney dropped by goPuff's renovated Callowhill offices - Technical.ly Philly

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Jul. 11, 2017 12:52 pm

Mayor Kenney dropped by goPuff’s renovated Callowhill offices

The mayor stopped by the delivery startup's new HQ to cut the ribbon on a “great success story for Philadelphia.”

goPuff founders Yakir Gola (left) and Rafael Ilishayev cut the ribbon on their renovated offices with the help of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.

(Photo via @PhillyMayor)

A renovated old church a couple of blocks south of Spring Garden houses the 30,000-square-foot HQ of goPuff, the brainchild of Drexel grads Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola.

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.”

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.

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(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.

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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.

At goPuff's offices. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

At goPuff’s offices. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

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.”

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Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Technical.ly Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to Technical.ly and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

  • Noneya1

    “Probably a beverage. That’s how we pay for schools.” Please, that’s how he’s going to cover failed pension funds. Pre-K kids might get a packet of Tang in the mail. Gaurenteed that Kenny FatFat the Taxocrat’s preferred beverage isn’t soft.

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