by Melanie Bochmann
How technology is making food ordering feel kind of magic
- Christian, is working in tech your profession or calling?
Definitely my calling. I started coding at the age of eight on an Apple IIc. Ever since I was passionate about technology and finding solutions for interesting tech challenges. In college, I moved more into business but always had tech on my mind. I ran my own 3D virtual world gaming company before I moved to Rocket Internet and eventually joined Delivery Hero as CTO in June 2016.
- What is special about working at Delivery Hero?
Prior to Delivery Hero, I helped building a number of large-scale e-commerce systems for companies like Zalando, Lazada and HelloFresh. When I joined Delivery Hero, I initially thought food delivery was like just another e-commerce system but soon learned about a remarkable difference: Our customers are hungry and they tend to be hungry all at the same time. Also, we are not talking about next day or same day delivery – we are talking about delivering in 15 to 30 minutes. We cannot let our hungry customer down under any circumstances. Hence, we need to build real-time systems that are optimized for this kind of instant delivery.
- What is your team focusing on?
The tech team is responsible for building an incredible range of tools and tech solutions which connect customers, restaurants, and riders. Almost all areas of our business – from customer care and restaurant operations to billing, sales and finance, as well as marketing and logistics, can benefit from our smart tech solutions to reduce manual effort and improve speed. We are always striving for new ways to improve how customers order and receive their food. Maybe the future of our business will be based on voice interfaces, robot delivery, cloud kitchens, virtual reality, new delivery services or machine learning. We are trying to find out by experimenting and learning fast.
- Delivery Hero is a network of almost 30 brands globally. What is it like working in such a global but local environment from a people perspective?
We sometimes call ourselves the ‘United Nations of food delivery.’ We’re spread all over the world, but like all successful teams, we’re united by shared values and one vision which is to create an amazing takeaway experience. Each of our companies is a food delivery startup that decided to join our network. We are working together across the world, exchanging ideas and also promoting the exchange of talent between teams and countries. We really are a global team.
- What does that international setup mean for your team from a tech perspective?
It means we put a lot of effort into localization and meeting the needs and characteristics of each market. For example, you would not believe how complicated address systems are around the world. Take Saudi Arabia where there is no such thing as a house number; or Bogota where you describe your location based on distance from the next street crossing; or Turkey where people like to use license plate numbers to provide their location. Our systems help matching customer location and restaurant delivery polygons in all of these cases in an optimal way. Of course, we also need to consider cultural specifics too. In Singapore we must not transport halal and non-halal food in the same box. In Saudi Arabia we close restaurants automatically five times a day during prayer time. We also have a special Monsoon feature in Asia that enables us to close down regions quickly during a flood with a custom message. The challenge for our tech team is to bring all these local needs to our platforms.
- Delivery Hero is the largest food network globally. Which role does technology play in that success story?
Technology is the core of our success and the backbone of our business. Tech allows us to be efficient in marketing, excellent in customer support, and flawless in operations. Technology also deeply integrates us with our restaurant partners, runs our delivery fleets, and helps our customers finding the food they love. With technology, we are able to understand the data we gather and use it to constantly optimize the experience on our mobile apps and websites. We deliver up to one million orders per day which is only possible because we spent the last years enhancing our product and technology to a level where it just feels like magic.
- How will you make sure – from a tech perspective – that Delivery Hero will continue its path of success in the upcoming years?
Right now, Delivery Hero is in a stage between startup and corporate; that means we’re still moving fast but already have the strength of a global company. We always say: ‘We’re only just getting started’. We want to build amazing systems and we want to become the place to work in tech – not only just in Berlin, but in Europe and the world. Hence, we will further invest into tech to keep up our pace and change the whole industry. We will add new business models, new devices, test new ways of delivery and dive deeper into every detail of online food delivery. Of course, that’s only possible with systems that are able to evolve and with talented people who are comfortable with our high pace.
- Talking about talents – what actually makes Delivery Hero special as a tech employer?
Firstly, Delivery Hero is a place where you can really have a huge impact. Food is such a core part of everybody’s life – and we are all working together to have an impact on people’s lives by serving them with the best food, providing the best experience, and by making it affordable, fast and enjoyable. We have built a team of people who get their motivation from making that impact. Secondly, we’re not afraid to change. We are highly data-driven – and when data tell us to change direction, we will change direction. Finally, here at Delivery Hero, we have an environment that is truly international. We have around 50 different nationalities in our tech team at our headquarters alone. We support people to have an international career and exchange knowledge in our tech centers around the world – from Bogota to Seoul, from Istanbul to Montevideo. There is a tremendous amount of innovation going on in parallel in these places – and there’s such a lot to learn from each other. We believe our experience and knowledge is very valuable, that’s why we also recently launched our tech blog to publish tech insights, news, and updates.
- What does ordering food mean to you in your personal life?
I order food few times a week – and I still think it’s kind of magic. A few taps on my phone and thirty minutes later I have freshly cooked food at my door. For me, ordering food is not about saving time or money; it’s all about bringing the restaurant experience home. I can sit on my terrace, watch the sunset with my wife and kids and enjoy that perfect burger delivered by Foodora – that’s an amazing takeaway experience for me.
- Let’s take a look into the future: How do you think we will order food in the next ten or twenty years?
I believe that we are just at the very beginning of what online food delivery could look like. Every day, more people decide to order food online. A whole new lifestyle will be created like what happened with e-commerce. Just like a lot of people stopped shopping in physical stores, they will stop cooking at home and switch to the much more convenient way of ordering their food online. And I’m confident that our Delivery Hero team will shape that future of online food delivery, especially by leveraging machine learning to take things to the next level; in terms of routing drivers, personalizing search, or predicting demands. We want the app to become more and more like a great waiter who knows about taste and preferences of the customer. My vision is ‘zero-click food ordering’ – that means the app will be so smart that it knows when you will be hungry before you know yourself. The app will just order the perfect dish for you without any need for action. Then, we will have reached the ultimate convenience level.