Delivery company goPuff was already having a banner year.
The company, founded by Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev in 2013 when they were Drexel University students, took a $750 million investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund in August 2019.
Last summer, they moved into a new 30,000-square-foot headquarters at 3rd and Spring Garden streets, thanks in part to a state-backed grant. And in December, they were nominated and won our 2019 Technical.ly Award for Growth Company of the Year.
And then a global pandemic hit.
For many companies across industries, this meant uncertainty about their business model, their headcount and what the future of the company would look like. But as Philadelphia operates under a stay-at-home order with only essential businesses allowed to stay open, goPuff’s had to grow.
Comms head Liz Romaine told Technical.ly in an email that the company is seeking “thousands” of new driver partners and field employees (including for some temp-to-hire positions) for its more than 170 locations around the U.S. to meet increased demand and “safely deliver essentials to customers who need them most.”
The process for tech hires has looked largely the same, she said, although the company switched to virtual interviewing and onboarding for those positions. Folks in HQ have been working remotely since March 16, she added.
As a company with a business model centered on delivery services, how to prepare for such a big uptick in services? The current first priority is the health and wellness of driver partners, employees and customers, Romaine said.
“We also recognize that delivery is playing an integral role in this public health crisis, and we take this responsibility seriously,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to be there for our customers — whether they need cleaning supplies in the morning, OTC medicine in the afternoon or something to eat and drink at night.”
The public health concerns have meant implementing some new protocols like supplying drivers with cleaning supplies, protective equipment and hand sanitizer, along with a no-contact delivery option. It’s also expedited the opening of six new locations, Romaine said, and temporarily expanded delivery zones to be able to serve more customers.
One of the company’s Philly warehouses in Callowhill has seen so much uptick in delivery that neighbors observed (and have complained about) a multi-employee pickup operation including a waiting line for drivers to collect orders:
.@gopuff's Callowhill warehouse is busier than ever as they deal with increased delivery demand right now. My friend @MichaelaLee_ lives on the block and sent me this video of the line of cars waiting to pick up orders. pic.twitter.com/jvgi2Qrxqd
— Paige Gross ✨ (@By_paigegross) April 6, 2020
The company also launched the Health Care Support Initiative, a program offering $1 million in free delivery orders to healthcare workers across the U.S.
“As a thanks for our hospital workers’ extraordinary commitment in this unprecedented moment, we are offering any employee of a participating hospital a free goPuff order, as well as free delivery,” Romaine said.
Several Philly hospitals, including Jefferson Hospital and University of Pennsylvania Hospital workers are included in this program, Romaine said. Credits valued at $25 each (with the standard $1.95 delivery fee waived) will be available to employees of hospital partners across the country. Hospital workers looking to have their hospital or health care center added to the initiative can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And some good news for Philadelphians: goPuff has partnered with two local staples, Federal Donuts and La Colombe, which shut their stores down during the pandemic, to deliver treats and coffee. Folks can order a six-pack of “fancy donuts” or La Colombe’s ready-to-drink products and coffee beans.
Keep your eye out for more local partnerships, Romaine said.
friendly reminder that we deliver toilet paper
— Gopuff (@gopuff) March 28, 2020