How DX Ventures supports disruptive change in the industry
10 questions with Duncan McIntyre, Managing Director of DX Ventures.
Recently we launched DX Ventures, a Delivery Hero-backed venture capital fund with a mission to support the next generation of global entrepreneurs. Today we have the chance to talk to Duncan McIntyre, Managing Director of DX Ventures. He is leading the DX Ventures team to invest in disruptive early-stage companies and guide them on their path to lasting success.
Duncan joined Delivery Hero in 2014, initially working in the strategy and international markets team and later leading Global Strategy where he was responsible for M&A and investments, corporate finance, investor relations, and led the efforts to list Delivery Hero on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2017. Prior to Delivery Hero, Duncan was active in the start-up industry including building the Australian operations of a fintech and big data technology company. He started his career at Macquarie Bank in 2005, working on many cross-border transactions based in Sydney, Cape Town, and Frankfurt.
Duncan, you’ve been with Delivery Hero for six years. What are the most disruptive changes you have seen the company and industry go through during that time?
In many ways the industry and Delivery Hero have vastly changed from 6 years ago. Today consumers expect their food to be delivered much quicker, to track their order on their mobile phones and to be able to choose the latest hip restaurants or convenience items like fresh fruit or even pet food. We are convinced about the benefits of own delivery capabilities for many reasons and transitioning more and more into this direction has also helped us to meet this customer demand. We have built out our offering to include a wide range of convenience items. These changes have brought many different and unique challenges.
Delivery Hero has been in hypergrowth for many years. In your role you have actively contributed to that – how so?
Before moving into DX Ventures, I was leading the strategy function at Delivery Hero. This involved investing in or acquiring companies to expand our geographic coverage to our current footprint of around 50 different countries. A big part of our success has come down to finding opportunities and allocating capital to markets with great potential, such as countries in the Middle East that have incredible food ordering behaviour, or countries in South East Asia with large populations and very low online penetration, or new business areas like quick commerce. This has placed us in the very fortunate position to have grown substantially since I joined and to still be growing very fast today.
Talking about scale: why is growth so important, and how long can this growth realistically continue?
Growth is important in network and platform businesses, like Delivery Hero. Greater scale allows us to increasingly benefit from network effects and create a very strong flywheel. More restaurants means a better selection of food for customers, which brings more orders for those restaurants and drives restaurant additions to the platform. Increased orders means a larger rider network, which allows us to have more efficient operations so that we can have faster and more reliable delivery.
We continuously look for ways to expand our existing platform that allow us to leverage our existing customer base and rider fleet, for example quick commerce and Dmarts. We feel like we are still at the start and have a very long runway of growth ahead.
Let’s talk about the new venture capital fund DX Ventures: What can you provide to founders you invest in and what value do you think it will add to the Delivery Hero group?
DX Ventures is focused on supporting our portfolio companies with access to our global network, know-how and our core platform of customers, riders, restaurants and partners to support their growth and vision. These portfolio companies can also provide valuable products to our customers and partners that will generate a lot of value over time.
Our global scope and local operations in the many countries we operate in is something that sets us apart from traditional VC funds that often have a narrow geographic focus.Duncan McIntyre
Can you give us an example of this?
One of our portfolio companies produces biodegradable packaging solutions. We can provide them with access to a significant number of new restaurant customers and aggregate order volume across our global footprint. In turn, our restaurants can potentially receive high quality packaging at wholesale prices that can reduce their costs and facilitate an easier purchasing experience in the long term. Customers also benefit as the product keeps the food warmer with the added benefit that this is done in a sustainable way.
There are an incredible number of possibilities like this, from adding products in our Dmart stores to deliver to our customers, to providing financing to our partners.
What excites you the most about investing in new start-ups?
Working with great management teams and learning about new businesses and industries. We are lucky to work with deeply passionate people every day that are focused on accomplishing their mission and creating amazing products and services.
Disruption often occurs when incumbents in traditional industries stop innovating and complacency sets in.Duncan McIntyre
One of the unique characteristics of DX Ventures is its global scope and experience. Are there certain geographies that are particularly active in the field of innovation?
Our global scope and local operations in the many countries we operate in is something that sets us apart from traditional VC funds that often have a narrow geographic focus. We can speak with our country leadership teams and leverage their local networks to understand business opportunities in more detail and support our portfolio companies to expand. This is a big advantage for us.
What makes a business model disruptive, and can you name some examples?
Disruption often occurs when incumbents in traditional industries stop innovating and complacency sets in. That allows innovative technology-driven companies to offer customers new solutions that better meet their needs. We see this happening today in all sorts of industries, whether it’s fintech players disrupting traditional banking, or grocery delivery companies offering customers an alternative to going to the supermarket.
Some of Delivery Hero’s venture capital has also gone to competing companies like Rappi and Glovo. Isn’t that counterintuitive?
When we look at markets like food delivery and quick commerce they are at such an early stage that each new entrant adds new services to customers and ultimately grows the market more rapidly. Even today the vast majority of orders take place offline and customers are only ordering food delivery or convenience items a few times per month. So it’s natural that we would want to invest in great founders that are participating in such a significant and rapidly changing ecosystem.
A VC fund always needs to think one step ahead and foresee how economies and societies might change. What are some trends that you expect to change our lives?
One big trend we are seeing is the increasing adoption of alternative and sustainable food choices. As companies start to embrace this trend and more options become available we are seeing rapid growth. Two companies we have invested in the past, Impossible Foods and Just, are leading in the plant-based food space. They offer consumers an alternative to animal protein. In the future we can expect our food to be cheaper, have less diseases and harmful contaminants and be less wasteful on our resources, leading to a more sustainable and secure food chain – and hopefully a better taste as well!