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In nearly every industry, competition is rife. Whether you're in communications, cybersecurity or even retail, it's natural and perhaps even advised to be on edge about potential technologies that might succeed your own. It’s factors like this that make the success story of Glovo all the more inspirational. Navigating the rapid and unpredictable changes in the gig economy, Glovo is now celebrating its 5th birthday; its agile approach has even made it go from being a startup to a unicorn since its inception.
None of this success would have been remotely possible if it wasn’t for their co-founder and CEO Oscar Pierre. Oscar is an entrepreneur with an eye for tech, having led Glovo to success over the last half-decade.
Tell us about Glovo and the company's journey so far, from startup to unicorn. What’s next?
We are obsessed with making everything in the city immediately accessible and available to everyone!
At the start of our journey back in 2015, I was making the deliveries and now we have over 50,000 active couriers across the globe - although I still like to deliver from time to time! Our growth over the last five years has been exponential. We’re now active in over 750 cities across 21 countries globally.
Our strategy today is to lead in every market in which we operate and that’s reflected in our business model as we focus on those less crowded regions including Southern Europe and Africa. Just last year we sold our operations in Latin America to focus on those areas we have the strongest presence. Having the most in-demand stores using our site and ensuring we always have enough couriers in the cities we operate means we can process more orders in the fastest time.
In spite of the ongoing pandemic, 2020 was a big year for us as we found ourselves in a privileged position to help our users and partners. From delivering essential goods during local lockdowns, to launching Glovo Access, which allows NGOs and charities to use our technology for deliveries, we have always strived to offer the best service. Now, we’re focused on enhancing our innovative technology following Glovo’s newly launched Q-Commerce division and bold ambitions to have built 100 darkstores by the end of the year — which we believe will unlock deliveries within 10 minutes for over 2,000 grocery products in our biggest cities.
What single piece of advice do you wish someone had given you when you started Glovo?
One of my biggest learnings from the last five years has been to try to delegate as much as I can. In the early days of Glovo I was doing everything; marketing, sales and delivering orders.
When my meetings would finish my to-do-list would be endless and what I realised is, when you don’t delegate, you end up becoming the bottleneck for the company. You’ll never be able complete work as fast as your team, in fact you end up slowing down the business. I soon realised that I should be doing the tasks which only the CEO can do — focusing my efforts on strategy, growth and investor relations. Once I realised this, projects moved faster and were better executed. Today, a sign of a good meeting is when I leave with no actions.
A successful CEO should spend maybe more than half his or her time on the attraction and retention of great talent. If you optimise these two engines, giving them the focus needed for them to excel, set out the right vision and guidance for the company, then I believe most things will happen independently.
What are the biggest changes you've seen in the on-demand delivery sector in the past 5 years?
The on-demand delivery space has changed dramatically in just five years, as it evolves alongside customer demand. Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the biggest changes have been over the past 12 months as a result of Covid-19 and subsequent shops closing and lockdowns across the globe.
Consumers now want more items than ever to be delivered in record time. Next day delivery is no longer enough, the expectation is a matter of minutes. At Glovo we aim to stay one step ahead and last November we launched our new Q-Commerce division, delivering ‘anything’ in 30 minutes or less. It’s all about catering for convenience, so we’ve made sure our users can be connected with restaurants, supermarkets, retailers, pharmacies and more to order 1 or 100 items, any hour of the day.
What startups do you predict to be the next big thing this year?
I really believe that the startup scene in Barcelona is one of the most exciting in Europe, and the world, right now. There’s so much creativity here and I make sure that I stay very connected to what’s happening in the local ecosystem. There are so many great startups but if I had to name a few, I think the likes of Wallbox, Heura and Innovamat are doing some great, really creative things in their spaces and I’ve been impressed with the amazing teams they’ve set up and the positive impact they’re all having.
What can we expect to see from Glovo in 2021 and beyond?
We have an ambitious roadmap ahead and 2021 is an exciting one for us. We’ve already started the year with €100 million investment from real-estate firm Stoneweg, to help expand our Q-Commerce offering. Focusing on how we can best serve our partners and customers is crucial and by the end of the year we aim to have launched more than 100 virtual dark stores across southern Europe.
Another core focus is our leading technology. Having just hired our new CTO, Narek Verdian, we plan to grow our tech team by 60%, from 300 to more than 500 this year alone. We have always been proud of our pioneering technology, but it’s crucial we continue to build on this now, particularly with rapid dark store expansion. We want to make sure all users have a seamless shopping experience and this means investing more in our use of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.