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Maple Start-Up Shuts Down

Salad box with lots of compartments and sauces

Promising food delivery start-up Maple will be shutting down services in New York, their only current base.

The service will now merge with Deliveroo in London, focusing on this market, despite over $25 million raised in start-up funds.

A Unique Proposition

Maple had initially gained interest due to the fact that they had a different proposition from other food delivery services. Rather than simply delivering food from restaurants or takeaways, they owned the whole process of the food preparation. They sourced the supply chain, prepared the food, and then delivered it too.

Chicken burger in a bun with cheese and onions

But this apparently wasn’t enough to get people interested. With the market quickly reaching saturation, it seems that there just wasn’t room for Maple in New York City.

Now Maple will be teaming up with Deliveroo, the delivery company based in the UK.

“Given the overlap in our goals and the significant scale of Deliveroo’s operations, working together makes sense,” Maple co-founders Caleb Merkl 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.”

It seems that Deliveroo will be using the Maple technology to improve their own platform, with all the executive food positions at Maple also moving across to join the Deliveroo team. Maple’s work will, therefore, live on through Deliveroo – if rather unconvincingly, at least thus far.

Changes Lying Ahead

So, what changes, if any, will this make for Deliveroo? Founder and CEO of Deliveroo, Will Shu, explained that Deliveroo will be using the 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. 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.”

That’s about all we have so far in terms of details, from both sides of the story. Time will tell whether this is a story about Maple folding and delivering a pre-developed management team to Deliveroo, or more of a true team-up.

It is telling, however, that the founders’ farewell note focused on their software. They said, “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).” It’s clear that they are trying to push this software as a big reason behind any success that they did have.

Trouble For Start-Ups

Maple is not the only food delivery start-up which has seen hard times lately. Munchery has been another brand name to suffer: they have managed to burn through most of the money that they raised for launch, have endured food wastage issues, and have begun laying off staff members to save funds.

SpoonRocket is another start-up which has had to shut down its operations in the US as of 2016. Sprig has had to evolve its strategy to start selling meals from inside their kitchen, and to continue offering deliveries through Caviar instead. It’s a rocky time for food delivery, and we may well be seeing that the markets are about as full as they are going to get.

The story is somewhat similar in the UK, with only a handful of brands really competing for the market – including Deliveroo and Just Eat.