Maple, the prepared food delivery startup that had raised over $25 million, tried to differentiate itself from other startups by owning the whole process of the food cycle from sourcing the food, to preparing it and then delivering it. As the headline suggests, it didn’t work out for Maple. That’s why Maple is ceasing operations in New York (the only city it served) and teaming up with UK-based food delivery company Deliveroo.
“Given the overlap in our goals and the significant scale of Deliveroo’s operations, working together makes sense,” Maple co-founders Caleb Merkl (pictured above) and Akshay Navle wrote on the company blog. “As a result, some members of the Maple team will join Deliveroo operations in London, and our technology will be used to help accelerate growth and efficiency across the platform.”
When I reached out to Merkl for comment, a PR rep replied that Deliveroo will be integrating Maple’s technology into its platform. The spokesperson also said that Merkl, Navle and Maple CTO Dan Cowgill “are all definitely joining at this stage.”
Maple’s work will continue to live on through Deliveroo, Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu told TechCrunch via email. More specifically, Deliveroo will use Maple’s tech to “help accelerate the growth of Deliveroo Editions, a brand new platform that helps restaurants to launch, test and take their menus nationwide without the need for a high street premise,” Shu said. “In our mission to build the very best food delivery service in the world, this is another big step as we deliver more top quality food to more customers around the world.”
Turmoil and change is nothing new for the on-demand food delivery space. Munchery, for example, has had a rough time lately — between the layoffs, burning through most of the money it has raised and food waste. Last year, SpoonRocket shut down its operations in the U.S. Meanwhile, Sprig’s strategy has evolved to sell meals from inside its kitchen, as well as offer deliveries via Square-owned Caviar.
Here’s the full letter from the founders:
We’re writing to let you know that as of today Maple will be ceasing operations in New York. We’re sorry to bring you this news, and want to take some time to explain why we have come to this decision.
We set out two years ago with a big idea about a new approach to food delivery and the lofty ambition of turning an industry on its head. Since then, we’ve accomplished many things we’re incredibly proud of.
We built a brand that struck a chord with our customers and developed hundreds of menu items, allowing us to serve millions of meals to supportive and loyal customers such as yourself. We built some truly exceptional software, allowing us not only to collect, bundle and route orders with unprecedented throughput, but to drive efficiency at every step of our process—from ingredient sourcing, all the way through delivery completion (resulting in over a million miles logged by our delivery team members). Serving thousands of meals daily across Manhattan is no small operational feat, and our team orchestrated this dance with a grace that is rare in the face of such unrelenting expectations. Above all, when we consider what we’re most proud of, we think of our team—the exceptional group of people, from those in HQ to culinary, delivery and customer experience—who made Maple great, every day.
That all said, and as with most maturing businesses, the Maple of today still has many challenges to overcome. Over the past several months we’ve been spending most of our time thinking about the future of our business—what comes next for Maple? The more time we spent trying to answer this question, the more evident it became that of all the paths we had contemplated, the most compelling next step in Maple’s story involved a shift from our current approach. While an incredibly difficult decision for us given the effect on our core operations, it became clear that we needed to close the Maple operation here in New York and look for a partner with scale—one that would allow us to leverage all that we had built across a broader platform.
Having landed on this strategy, we reconnected with a group that we knew shared our vision of delivering great food to as many people as possible—a UK-based food delivery company called Deliveroo. Deliveroo has developed from a local London affair started four years ago to a business operating across 12 countries and 140 cities globally. Given the overlap in our goals and the significant scale of Deliveroo’s operations, working together makes sense. As a result, some members of the Maple team will join Deliveroo operations in London, and our technology will be used to help accelerate growth and efficiency across the platform.
We wanted to close by thanking all of you one last time for ordering—for telling your friends to order, for rating us, and for telling us how we were doing so diligently and so often. We showed up every day for all of you and we hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did.
Caleb & Akshay