In the dark ages, if a restaurant didn’t deliver and you found yourself inextricably enmeshed with your couch cushions, you were out of luck.
(Okay, maybe “the dark ages” is harsh. “Pre-2000” is much more accurate.)
Luckily for the somewhat lazy — or legitimately bedridden, or perhaps undergoing a New Year’s Eve party recovery regimen — Madison has consistently been a go-to early market for food delivery startups.
“We specifically look for markets where food delivery is insanely popular, but the speed and consistency of delivery is subpar,” said Justin Goldman, co-founder and CEO at Zoomer, a San Francisco-based food delivery company that launched in Madison about six months ago. “Based on our market research, Madison fit this to a tee.”
Zoomer was founded in 2014 and is currently in 18 cities.
EnvoyNow, a college campus-focused delivery company that launched at University of Southern California in 2014, tapped Madison as its second site, bringing the service to UW-Madison just months after its first California delivery driver hit the pavement.
The choice to expand early on in Madison has paid off, according to EnvoyNow’s local leadership team.
“We are the number one campus right now in terms of orders,” said Max Schauff, a member of the team.
EnvoyNow is currently operational on seven campuses nationwide.
Schauff said the Madison offshoot is fielding about 300 orders per week, and employs about 30 delivery drivers. EnvoyNow has plans to expand to more than 40 college towns in the spring of 2016.
“It’s a really exciting time for the company,” said Jack Pawlik, a local EnvoyNow growth marketing manager.
Mr. Delivery, another growing delivery startup, chose Madison as its third city for expansion after launching in Bloomington, Indiana, in 2008.
“Everybody is trying to figure out what they call ‘the last mile,’ from a destination to the customer’s doorstep,” said Jason Moldoff, COO of the company.
Moldoff said the startup world’s food delivery boom is undeniable.
“I have never experienced anything like this,” he said. “I think millennials have changed things in regard to convenience.”
Matt Howard, co-founder and CEO of EatStreet, a Madison-based online ordering company, agrees.
“Food delivery has received a lot of attention over the past few years,” Howard said, pointing to delivery giant GrubHub’s $192 million initial public offering in 2014, and Just Eat’s $2.4 billion deal the same year, as proof.
EatStreet closed a $15 million financing round in 2015, and is currently operational in more than 15,000 restaurants and 250 cities nationwide. The company bills itself as the largest independent online and mobile food ordering service in the country.
And Madison may see many more early stage delivery startups in the years to come, the insiders say.
Howard and Moldoff were quick to point out that there’s plenty of room to grow in the food delivery space, citing statistics that more than 80 percent of food ordering is still done offline.
“There is a long way to go before the market is saturated,” Howard said.