If you weren’t convinced the on-demand delivery space was piping hot right now, wrap your head around this. TechCrunch has learned that Stuart, an on-demand, same-hour delivery startup that is currently pre-launch and operating in stealth, has raised €22 million in funding, largely off the back of an idea and based on the track record of its three founders.
They are Dominique Leca (who founded Sparrow, the email client acquired by Google), Clement Benoit (who previously founded and until recently was CEO of restaurant delivery service Resto-In), and Benjamin Chemla (co-founder and previously CEO of Citycake.fr, which Resto-In acquired in late 2014).
It is my understanding that GeoPost, the delivery subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, has led the Series A round and that Stuart’s founders remain majority shareholders. Interestingly, GeoPost recently announced (PDF) that it has acquired an 80 percent stake in Resto-In and remains extremely bullish on the on-demand delivery and food e-commerce sectors.
Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain but technically a France-registered company, Stuart had previously raised €1.5 million in seed funding from a list of successful entrepreneurs including J.D. Blanc (Allociné), J.A. Granjon (Vente-privee.com) and O. Mathiot (PriceMinister).
Meanwhile, little is known publicly about Stuart except that, according to the startup’s own blurb, it wants to speed up “the way local goods are transported in a city by allowing anyone to deliver anything at any time”.
The startup also describes itself as an “on-demand urban logistics app & platform” and I understand that this equates to a same-hour delivery service, with the company offering an app and API that lets any shop or e-commerce site offer its customer’s same-hour local delivery.
The ‘last mile’ delivery service is primarily B2B but as the app will be available from the various app stores it will be possible for anyone to purchase same-hour delivery on-demand.
In that sense there appears to be some cross-over with the likes of Shyp and Postmates in the U.S., or numerous similar offerings across Europe.
With that said, Stuart aims to compete on price and, according to one source, completely disrupt local delivery with much better technology that it’s been refining over the last 6 months. A full beta test of its app and API in Paris has already seen 1,000 deliveries a day in less than a month.
A key part of that technology is not only its ability to manage fleets of delivery drivers (motorbikes, bicycles, cars and trucks) to ensure that jobs are dispatched in the most efficient way but also in how Stuart aims to handle increases in demand.
Rather than going down the surge-pricing route, Uber-style, the startup’s algorithm will where necessary ‘pool’ deliveries to keep the cost down. I guess a good analogy might be ridesharing, where each participant has a slightly different pick up and drop off point.
Crucially, however, this is done without compromising same-hour delivery. That’s the trick that Stuart hopes it can pull off and what it thinks will give it the edge. I understand that pricing will start at €2.99 per delivery.
Lastly, Stuart is said to be recruiting like “crazy”. Along with Paris and Barcelona it’s planning to launch in Brussels, London and Berlin. I’ve seen multiple job ads for London in recent months.