LOS GATOS — Jonathan Friedland wondered why his favorite local bakery, Manresa Bread, wasn’t using food delivery services like DoorDash or Uber Eats, especially during a pandemic shutdown that has kept customers on edge. home.
The simple answer, he learned, is that some eateries and eateries that partner with these wildly popular apps can’t know in advance how much food they’ll need in stock when orders start rolling in. rush hour. Miscalculations can lead to shortages or wastage, sometimes a combination of both.
Friedland, a 2019 engineering graduate from UCLA, began researching how to solve this problem. So he and a few close friends came up with Locale, a service that lets customers place orders days in advance, giving businesses a better idea of what to expect.
Through Locale, customers can place orders from businesses hundreds of miles away, expanding their world of favorite restaurants. For stores and restaurants, this means being able to overcome geographic barriers and reach new customers.
Sustainability is the spirit of his company, says Friedland. And thanks to the $14 million Locale raised in its latest funding round – led by venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz – the company has pledged to pay delivery drivers an average of 150% more. they wouldn’t win for DoorDash.
In addition to the Bay Area, Locale began operations in the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas. Even with pandemic habits waning, Friedland says he’s confident his company can retain customers.
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
Q Could you explain what types of orders Locale customers would place?
A You can order a croissant from Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, you can order a meal kit from Brenda’s French Soul Food or Bob’s Donuts in San Francisco; Boichik Bagels in the East Bay – a really average order is varied. We have 150 companies.
It is very rare for someone to order from just one company. It’s a way for people to discover new foods. We also want to keep the trust of customers. The companies on (our application) are of quality, they are controlled. We get about a hundred applications a week for businesses to be on Locale, and we accept maybe two or three.
We try to keep it very organized by asking customers what they want and attracting those businesses to our platform.
Q How do you get customers to rewire their brains to think about what they’re going to eat days in advance, which feels like the opposite of the immediacy you find on DoorDash?
A It definitely requires some tweaking. We are quite early for this kind of model; not many people do. At first, people are very confused when they place an order and see that it will arrive on Saturday instead of Wednesday.
So for new customers there is a learning curve, but returning customers really use it as a discovery platform. They sort of see it as, “Oh, I want to try this product, and I don’t care when I get it.” And that’s a pretty reasonable shipping cost.
There are three things you can be good at in e-commerce. We really try to be good at affordability and selection, and we don’t try to optimize for speed at all.
Q It looks like you’ve been really successful in convincing investors of this business model. What’s your pitch for attracting names like Andreessen Horowitz and their dollars?
A The reason they liked us was really because of our (customer) retention rates. They also liked that a lot of our growth doesn’t come from paid acquisitions – like paid media, Facebook ads. Our pitch is that we’re different from DoorDash, we’re organized, we’re not in demand and we never will be.
It’s a lot of word of mouth – that’s where over 25% of our customers come from – and suppliers also promote us because they see us as an additional source of income. They will put us in their Instagram and Facebook ads.
Q How do you recruit drivers and manage costs and profit margins by paying them a living wage of $25/hour?
A We travel a lot to college campuses and drivers hear about us by word of mouth. We have a pretty good retention rate so we don’t need that many drivers per week. One of the reasons we can pay them $25/hour is because when they drive all day, their time is optimized. Because our orders are placed ahead of time, there isn’t a lot of downtime or waiting.
Q How did you scale the business as the pandemic started to fade?
A During the pandemic, there was a lot of demand for basic needs like groceries. Before, we could attract customers as if nothing had happened because people didn’t really have any other choice. But we’ve come back to real life now and pivoted the business to focus on food curation and discovery. It’s been a pretty successful pivot so far.
Age: 25 years old
Place of birth: Los Gatos, Residence: San Francisco,
Education: UCLA BS Electrical and Computer Engineering
FIVE THINGS ABOUT JONATHAN FRIEDLAND
1. Son of Ukrainian immigrants; parents immigrated to California in their early 20s and met in San Francisco
2. Worked as a management consultant for a year while getting Locale off the ground.
3. I was an avid cyclist and often went on 100+ mile bike rides around California
4. Started Locale with his best friend, Chris, who he’s known for over 12 years.
5. Appeared on a 2020 episode of Judge Judy (he was the complainant).