Glovo is one of Spain’s most successful startups. Founded in Barcelona in 2015, the startup offers the world’s first on-demand delivery service, allowing customers to order anything through its app with a click, and have it delivered to their home within an hour.
Through the app, orders are automatically sent to couriers called “Glovers” who are nearby using geolocation. The Glovers pick-up and deliver any product, from groceries to gifts, make up, electronics, books, or flowers. Over the past three years Glovo has grown rapidly, and its service is now available in 20 countries. The startup has raised over €150 million to date; we’ve been covering its growth from the beginning, from its €5 million round in 2016 to its €25 million round in 2017, to its most recent €115 Series C round raised in July. Glovo now has over 800 employees, and has made over 10 million deliveries by over 21,000 couriers in 75 cities across the globe.
Inspired by apps like Uber and Airbnb, the startup’s co-founder Oscar Pierre came up with the idea while studying in the US. Only 26, Oscar was featured on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in 2017.
Below Oscar shares the challenges he faced while starting Glovo, the factors in its success, and his advice for other entrepreneurs.
What is your entrepreneurial background, and where did the idea come from for starting Glovo?
I started my studies at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. After two years, I moved to Georgia Tech, in the United States, to explore better opportunities. After graduating, I began my professional career as aerodynamics engineer at Airbus in Toulouse. After six months I decided to look for new challenges and dedicated myself to creating a new business. Glovo began in early 2015. Previously, while studying, I had already founded Zikkomo.com, a solidarity platform with 30 children sponsored in Malawi. I also founded LoveItLocal.es in 2014, a market destined to boost local craft businesses.
I was inspired by the American business model and apps like Airbnb and Uber, and I realized that there was no way to get any local product at home on demand. Then I came back to Barcelona with the idea of launching my own app based on the on-demand market, and I met Sacha Michaud who joined Glovo as a co-founder.
“Success has come by executing very quickly, understanding local markets and being able to adapt very quickly to the different needs”
You have scaled quickly in the three years since you founded Glovo, expanding to several countries and raising over €150 million. What do you consider to be the biggest factors in your success, and what were the biggest challenges you faced while scaling up?
Success has come by executing very quickly, understanding local markets and being able to adapt very quickly to the different needs, today we are operating on four continents and every market is very different. We are a “cities” company and we have to understand our customers, partners, and Glovers needs in every city if we want to be successful. Our biggest challenges have been around fundraising – every round has had amazing challenges, convincing investors that a Spanish startup can compete on a world stage. This has also meant that we haven’t been able to hire tech staff as soon or as quickly as we would have liked, and so we had to be far more efficient and effective in developing our platform.
“focus on doing less things but really well”
What have you learned from these challenges, and what would you do differently if you were to start from scratch today?
Build a larger tech team earlier.
What advice would you give to other startups that are looking to raise funding?
Surround yourself with a high-level team and focus on doing less things but really well, understand the problem you are trying to solve and stay focused on that, especially early-on when you are trying to create traction.
What are the most popular items that customers order through the Glovo app?
In terms of food, burgers, pizza and sushi. On the other hand, healthy food orders are increasing around noon. We also have a category to get groceries, of which the most ordered items are are drinks, dairy and fresh food.
Recently there has been a lot of press concerning delivery apps and complaints from their couriers about working conditions. How is this affecting your business, and what actions is Glovo taking to improve its relationship with its couriers and address their concerns?
We believe that the couriers who demonstrate do not represent the majority of the couriers that collaborate with the platform, since our internal satisfaction surveys show that 8 out of 10 couriers are satisfied with the platform. In addition, many of the requests that are being made for other platforms are already implemented in Glovo (for instance meteorology, insurance, excellence tests). We hold meetings weekly with couriers, and they are sent satisfaction surveys as well as partners to know their status. Couriers are a fundamental part of our business model, and we will always be open to listening to ideas and suggestions to improve the platform and the service we offer.
Spain lags behind the UK, France, and Germany in terms of producing successful scale-ups. What do you see as the challenges facing the Spanish startup ecosystem, and how has the ecosystem changed in recent years?
Funding and investment have and still is lower than competing countries, therefore expert human talent has been hard to attract, but this is changing today as cities like Barcelona and Madrid are becoming tech hubs. The Spanish government also needs to embrace the new digital economy much better, and not hold back new business models to maintain the status quo of traditional companies.
What are your plans for the future, and where do you hope to see Glovo in the next 3-4 years?
I see us as the centre of your city on-demand needs, where you think of Glovo for everything you want right now, from products, services to a discovery of your city, like a Google for your city.