Mckenzie Bauer used to drive for Uber, but decided to hop on his bike to deliver food for Hurrier three months ago. Photo by Tammy Thorne.
Faster food: Bicycle delivery by Hurrier
Food delivery by bike set to open in Vancouver, just expanded to Montreal
Story by Amelia Brown
The average delivery time for a meal ordered through Hurrier — including the time it takes to cook the meal and deliver it from one of many popular downtown restaurants to your door — is 35 minutes.
The wait for a table at some of these restaurants could be well over half an hour, but the minds behind the growing food-delivery service by bike think they can be even faster.
"We want to get the average delivery time down to 30 minutes," says David Albert, managing director at Hurrier. "To do that, we just need to get a little bit better at every part of the process." He adds, "From our experience, there is a real appetite for what we’re providing."
"Every part" includes many moving pieces; from placing the orders and making sure they're received by one of the 166 partner restaurants (most of which are popular destinations with busy kitchens), to trying to get a courier there close to the exact minute the order is ready, to forming the fastest routes for the cycle messengers to get the food to its drop-off point. Included in those improvements are infrastructure updates like bike lanes that can make it faster for cyclists to get through the downtown core en masse. "The easier it is for our couriers to get around the city, the better it is for us, for sure," Albert says.
The technology that Hurrier developed allows them to do all of the logistics of delivery in-house. That means the couriers don't use a traditional dispatch system. Instead they use an app on their phone that alerts them when they have a new delivery, allows them to accept the pick-up, and then tells them exactly where and when to pick it up and where to drop it off - with a suggested route to get there. Says Albert; "We're able to drop delivery times down very significantly compared to other delivery systems."
Photo courtesy of Hurrier
Another bonus of Hurrier versus traditional food delivery is their niche. From their launch in 2013, the aim has been to build partnerships with a small group of restaurants that offer high-quality food — instead of the typical pizza delivery, you can order food from places like Grand Electric, Fresh, The Burger's Priest and Ravi Soups through the app.
In the end, the seamless streamlining of tech, good food and bicycle couriers is what makes Hurrier popular with hungry urbanites.
And Hurrier has successfully carved out their place in Toronto's food delivery scene and exploited the potential in offering fast, high-quality food with environmentally-friendly delivery methods. This past September, Hurrier was acquired by Rocket Internet, an internet platform with companies that span the globe. Hurrier fits under Foodora, Rocket's food-delivery company that operates in many different countries. David Albert joined Hurrier through the Rocket acquisition.
And it's been a busy season for the fast-growing company; Hurrier expanded their service to Montreal in September, where they are currently forging partnerships with restaurants and couriers.
A launch in Vancouver is in the works for early next year, but Hurrier is far from settling down.
"We've really only scratched the surface of where we're going," Albert says. "If we really want to make sure that we have the best restaurant names on board — and I think we've proven that our model works for them — we're definitely looking for more restaurants to work with, and getting more customers to be able to enjoy the service."
In large American cities like New York, almost all food delivery is done by bike and there are multitudes of food delivery apps to choose from that cater to different cravings: high-quality food from apps like Caviar, curated food delivery from Served by Stadium, even chef-prepared ready-to-cook meals from Munchery. Here in Toronto, Hurrier competes with Just Eat (which has recently acquired OrderIt), Foodee and, more recently, UberEATS.
The new technology takes a little longer to get to us says Albert: "It's a factor of the economy, the people building these technologies are going to gravitate towards the larger populations. As they get larger, they're also able to offer it to Canadians, but it takes a bit of time."
Part of Hurrier's growing pains are getting more hungry Canadians to use their app.
As Hurrier expands to different Canadian cities, they aim to keep each operation as locally-oriented as possible, forging partnerships with the best restaurants the city has to offer, but also hiring couriers and management staff that know the city well.
Alex Paterson used to be a courier with Hurrier before joining the team full-time. Photo courtesy Alex Paterson
Alex Paterson worked as a courier with Hurrier for five months before joining the team in the King Street office as a courier growth associate; managing the courier operations and recruiting new cyclists to join the growing fleet.
Between August and November of 2014, Paterson was working eight to ten hours a day, five days a week as a courier, running an average 0f two and a half orders an hour — 28 orders in a ten hour day. Paterson will still hop on his bike and run deliveries on his weekends.
"It's not a leisurely commute" Paterson says, "It's all about maximizing the number of orders you can process in a day."
Although the area that Hurrier services stretches east from Leslieville, west to Keele and north to Dupont, most of the deliveries are within the financial and entertainment districts, in the west end on King and Queen.
After the traffic, the next biggest challenge is the weather, but, Paterson says, he hopes poor weather conditions don't stop people from ordering from Hurrier: "In rainy conditions I've had people say they feel bad for me out there, but the reality is that I'm prepared for it: it's my job."
McKenzie Bauer's been with Hurrier for three months — the same amount of time he's been a bicycle courier — and it's his first winter "on the road" as they say. Bauer says he heard it's going to be mild this winter, but no matter the conditions, Hurrier is still the fastest way to get your food.
"We are, over time, adding cars deliverers to our fleet and we will be able to get really intelligent about whether to dispatch a car versus a bike given the specific distance," Albert says.
The average length a meal travels on the basket of a Hurrier bicycle is two kilometres, and it's hardly ever more than three or four kilometres, since the customer is charged by distance.
Food delivery by bicycle just makes sense on the busy streets of downtown Toronto. Unlike New York where there are many different companies delivering different things with bike couriers, in Canada, Hurrier is leading the way in meal delivery by bike. At dandyhorse, we want to see all small deliveries in the downtown core done by bike.
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