Uber Eats' rival born in a dorm room makes Dutchman a billionaire


German food delivery firm Takeaway.com stands toe to toe against international players Uber Eats and Deliveroo, making its founder a billionaire. — Reuters

German food delivery firm Takeaway.com stands toe to toe against international players Uber Eats and Deliveroo, making its founder a billionaire. — Reuters

Delivering pizza, wings and curries into the grateful hands of hungry college students, frazzled parents and late-night workers has proved to be rewarding for Jitse Groen, whose Takeaway.com NV soared to a record this month.

The stock has more than tripled since a 2016 initial public offering, making him a billionaire in the process.

The delivery firm’s rise mirrors the growth of single-person households in the European Union, which surpassed those with children in 2013 and use such services more often.

But competition is heated, with established leaders like Takeaway and Just Eat Plc competing with Uber Eats and Deliveroo, which are growing rapidly in large urban centers.

Increased demand and a string of acquisitions have given Takeaway a top three position in every European country where it operates.

The firm’s shares surged in December after it agreed to buy Delivery Hero SE’s German operations for about US$1bil (RM4.13bil), ending an expensive rivalry in a country where both were competing for market share at the cost of profitability.

Groen, 40, created Takeaway in 2000 in his dorm room at the University of Twente in the Dutch town of Enschede near the German border.

He developed the first version of the platform that today forms the core of his business, connecting hungry, home-bound patrons to more than 44,000 restaurants in 12 countries, including the Netherlands and Germany. He’s now worth about US$1.4bil (RM5.78bil), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Takeaway started in Amsterdam and soon expanded to the other Dutch cities with Groen signing up the first couple of hundred restaurants himself.

When things got busy and university regulations prevented Groen from interning at his own company, he dropped out of school to focus on his business.

A spokesman for the firm declined to comment. The business processed 31.1 million orders in the first three months of 2019, up 51% from a year earlier.

That works out to 345,556 deliveries every day or 14,398 an hour. Some of those might even be delivered by Groen himself.

Despite being one of his country’s richest people, he occasionally hops on one of his company’s bikes and delivers meals. – Bloomberg