Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann said today at TechCrunch Disrupt London that his company will launch in London sometime in the second quarter of next year.
Postmates is dealing in a crowded on-demand market, with other startups like DoorDash and Sprig coming into delivery of food and other goods. Growing internationally is going to be an important moment for those startups as it signals growth into a much larger company, with Postmates already worth nearly $500 million.
There are still challenges to expanding to other cities in Europe. Berlin wouldn’t necessarily work with the current model, nor Paris, Lehmann said. And the only way the company would expand into Asian countries would likely be through a partnership, Lehmann said.
“Asia is so difficult, Uber has huge problems there, Google doesn’t fully understand it,” he said. “There are tremendous challenges, I don’t think we can tackle Asia by ourselves, so I think a partnership makes the most sense.”
Postmates’ business is defensible at scale, he said. “If you look at FedEx that’s the answer, that’s where you can have defensibility. And with that comes the defensibility on the technology side. The tricky part is you can over-engineer at the beginning. But without scale, what you can actually achieve without technology is almost not interesting.”
Postmates has certainly been busy. The company launched a delivery program with Starbucks earlier this month. Postmates raised $80 million in June this year. It acquired Sosh, an activity concierge service. And it continues to expand to new cities.
Postmates is not necessarily unfamiliar with London. Lehmann and his co-founders came to the United States through AngelPad with a company called Curated.by, but eventually started Postmates. Part of the reason it went after food delivery was because that helped the company build its logistics business, Lehmann said.
“The food delivery comes first. The reason that comes first is, it’s okay to talk about this now. For the longest time food delivery has been a way for us to get the entire logistics business of the company going,” Lehmann said. “It was the category we needed to get the flywheel going.”
The company will also find itself likely competing with Deliveroo as it continues to expand internationally, Lehmann said. There’s also the looming potential presence of Uber, which has a food delivery product and is already present in London with its driver product. But two companies now share six investors. Still, it led to a bit of a funny moment between Lehmann and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
“He greeted me and said see you in the trenches,” Lehmann said. “I thought it was funny he was saying it to a German.”