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Teardown | Gorillas - Quick-Commerce Grocery Delivery
Among the fastest growing German startups, Gorillas is a a quick-commerce grocery delivery service which has scaled to a $3.1B valuation in less than 2 years.
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Founded in 2020, Gorillas is an online grocery delivery service that promises to make deliveries of grocery and other everyday items within 10 minutes. The company achieves this via its wide network of dark-stores and an equally large network of riders which it hires on a permanent basis instead of a contractual one. Gorillas is one of the quickest German startups to have reached unicorn status.
Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Gorillas currently operates in 8 countries including Germany, France, the Netherlands, UK, and others. It has raised $1.3B in funding and was last valued at $3.1B. Notable investors for the company include DST Global, Tencent, Coatue, Greenoaks Capital, Atlantic Food Labs, Dragoneer Investment Group, and many more.
Business Overview and Products
Gorillas is an online grocery service that operates a network of dark stores for stocking thousands of goods and delivering in under 10 minutes. The company’s aim is to enable consumers to shop for groceries on an adhoc basis instead of weekly bulk buying, which is the case when shopping from traditional retailers.
As an on-demand food and grocery delivery service, customers can choose from a wide assortment of products such as groceries and alcohol on the Gorillas’ platform. Orders can be placed via Gorillas’ app or online registration to its website. The company charges a simple delivery fee for delivering the products at a customer's doorstep.
How It Works
The company has a website as well as Android and iOS apps that enable customers to register and subsequently place orders. Upon registering, the customer must supply location and payment details after which the product database becomes accessible and the location informs the customer of how long delivery will take.
Gorillas offers a wide range of products such as fruits and vegetables, beverages, organic products, cleaning supplies, baby and pet products, etc. Customers simply add their selection to their shopping cart and make a payment to complete the order. Once an order is placed, the company makes good on its promise to deliver in under 10 minutes through the numerous urban dark-stores it operates. These dark-stores are Gorillas' own network of warehouses where all product stock is stored and packaged for delivery. Specialized warehouse personnel are responsible for collecting orders, packaging, and handing them over to delivery riders.
Gorillas sources and stores inventory in its own warehouse and is thus in a position to charge a profit on the products it stocks. This is beneficial for the company as Gorillas can track its inventory very well and keep real-time information on product availability. When businesses partner with retail stores, they often do not receive timely information about product unavailability leading to unfulfilled orders. Moreover, orders can be fulfilled much faster.
The company does not simply hire delivery riders on a contract basis, but instead permanently hires them to ensure there is never a shortage of riders or issues with delivery. They are supplied with branded uniforms to stand out as well as electric bikes to complete their deliveries on time.
Business Model and Pricing
There are 2 ways in which Gorillas makes money: the profit on its product sales and delivery fees. The company earns a profit on product sales due to its efforts to source the product and store it in company-owned warehouses. This allows it to set its own product prices, and therefore any difference in the sales price and the costs of acquiring and storing the product becomes the profit that Gorilla earns. Secondly, an average delivery fee of $2 is charged for all deliveries. No service fees are charged by the company.
By October 2021, Gorillas was operating in 55+ cities including its international footprint in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, New York, Milan and Munich. It was operating 180+ warehouses over the span of its 9 international markets. The company reported that its couriers had delivered 4.5M+ orders in the last 6 months.
In March 2021, Gorillas reached unicorn status. Within a year of operations, it had reached a revenue run rate of $300M+, with continued double-digit growth in monthly revenue. The company aimed to grow its revenue to $2.6B by the end of the year 2021. By August 2021, the company had a workforce of 10,000+ employees.
Kağan Sümer: Co-founder and CEO. He has previously founded other startups such as Rocket Internet Venture, Kuru. he has also worked as a consultant at Bain.
Jörg Kattner: Co-founder. He has previously worked as Head of Operations and later Chief Operating Officer at HelloFresh.
Ronny Shibley: Co-founder and CTO. He previously co-founded noknok and Shelvz. He also co-founded and served as CEO at Eddress. He was CTO and co-founder at Codefish.
Ugur Samut: Co-founder and Chairman of the Board. Previously he co-founded Medigo GmbH and has served as board member of Meditopia and BEAT81.
History and Evolution
Gorillas was founded in May 2020 by a team of serial entrepreneurs. Originally named GetGoodies, founders Sümer and Kattner ran a test phase where Sümer bought and stored supermarket items from nearby stores at his flat. The test app was only available in his immediate neighborhood, and every time an order came through he personally delivered it. After a successful phase, the business was launched in Prenzlauer Berg in the heart of Berlin.
In its infancy the business made a name for itself through distinct outfits for riders, super-fast deliveries, and late-night availability, winning out against the local kiosks. When it secured its first institutional funding in August 2020, the company expanded its delivery and warehouse footprint across Germany. Its first series A round then enabled the company to expand to every major German city and take its first step into the foreign market through Amsterdam.
In October 2020, several unhappy workers, mostly including riders, came together to protest against some bad labor practices at the company. The workers banded together and claimed they were not given enough protection during harsh weather and were mistreated when orders were delayed. Gradually they formed the Gorillas’ workers collective, which would help protect labor rights.
Soon after another funding round in March 2021 Gorillas entered the unicorn club, surpassing $1B in valuation. The company managed to reach the unicorn club within the first 10 months of operations and then increased its valuation threefold to $3.1B in the next 6 months.
*The website has remained unchanged since its inception.
Co-founder Jorg Kattner left the company after a year of operations and was replaced by Felix Chrobog. Expectations were that Felix would help the company scale its delivery services faster, however, Felix also left the company in less than a year of being with the company. It is reported that Gorillas’ aggressive growth strategy pushed by Kağan Sümer had become the reason for Jorg’s departure.
Gorillas has received criticism several times for its expansion coming at the expense of compromised customer service, treatment of employees, and warehouse workers. This has led to drivers and warehouse workers of the company getting together for unionization efforts. These strikes are backed by the Gorillas Workers’ Collective.
Gorillas tried a merger attempt with one of its strongest competitors based in Germany, known as Flink. However initial discussions did not pan out due to disagreement over equity splits, leadership structures, etc.
The latest funding round which yielded $1B in funds was backed by one of Germany’s biggest food delivery startups, Delivery Hero, which invested $235 million in Gorillas in return for around 8% of the company.
In 2018, it was predicted the German online grocery market would grow from $1.3B at a compound annual rate of 23.2% to $3.8B by 2023.
In 2020 since the pandemic began, Europe has been a hotbed of activity for startups in the grocery delivery market. There are several leading players in the European market, including Berlin’s Flink, Istanbul’s Getir, Barcelona’s Glovo, and London’s Zapp, with many more looking to join.
In 2022, it has been recently predicted that the value of grocery sales in Europe would rise drastically. From 2021 to 2026, the e-commerce grocery sales will grow from €93.1B to €193.4B. A further breakdown revealed that online retail and discounters with limited products will be the sectors that will grow the most in the grocery retail industry.
Suggested Next Reads
Gorillas: The new WeWork? (Sifted, August ‘21)
Europe Went Bananas for Gorillas. Then Its Workers Rose Up (Wired, November ‘21)
Gorillas business model: How does Gorillas work & make money (Jungleworks, February ‘22)