It looks like the same-hour ‘shop on your behalf’ delivery space in London is heating up. In January, French startup Tok Tok Tok raised $2 million for European expansion, with the UK Capital City pegged next. And U.S.-based Postmates, which just raised a $16 million series B round, has hinted that London is on its radar. Meanwhile, amidst all of this VC activity, UK upstart Jinn has quietly expanded to central London after trialing its service in Newcastle, in the North East of England, while taking part in accelerator Ignite100.
Jinn differs from those soon-to-be competitors in a number of ways. Firstly and perhaps shrewdly, it’s initially marketing the service to students, something that co-founder Mario Navarro tells me has proven so far to be a good fit (it seems that students are too lazy to get their own late-night munchies these days). It’s also an easily definable market, he says, and one with built-in word-of-mouth virility.
Secondly, instead of having a catalog of products like Postmates and Tok Tok Tok does, the Jinn iOS and Android app allows you to simply write what you want and where you want it, “making the ordering process as fast and hassle-free as possible,” says Navarro. Products ordered through the app can be from restaurants or any local store, with the aim to be delivered in under an hour. So far, in its Newcastle trial, students have ordered anything from an iPhone charging cable to a pirate’s flag, though, unsurprisingly, fast-food has proved most popular, especially since favourites like McDonald’s don’t deliver.
Jinn deliveries are handled by freelance couriers, with the app assigning each order according to proximity. The startup then takes a commission from the £5.95 delivery fee plus 10% of the purchase. “What’s different about Jinn is that they’ve cracked courier recruitment, scaling and other issues by being very clever about who they’re targeting,” Ignite100‘s Paul Smith tells me.
The startup, whose three founders are originally from Spain, is also post-pivot, having originally applied to Ingite100 with an idea related to helping people get around the city more easily only to spot a bigger opportunity in the transportation of products. Couriers are great at delivering stuff, but don’t normally shop on your behalf. They then set about building a very quick and dirty MVP consisting of a Facebook page that allowed users to order anything they wanted via private message. It wasn’t long before students began using the service.
And while it’s still clearly early days for Jinn, the burgeoning startup appears to have already got the attention of Postmates’ co-founder Bastian Lehman who tweeted “￼Stop doing what other people have done already. Get out there and create your own”. He later added: “We will be in London before the Summer.” All the while Jinn is going about the business of actually delivering late night food (and other goods) to the UK Capital City’s malnourished and time-scarce(?) students.