Food delivery service Deliveroo is making headway in its Asian expansion strategy. The London-based company announced today that it will launch in Taiwan in the coming weeks, starting with Taipei, the country’s capital, before heading to other cities. This marks Deliveroo’s fourth market in the Asia-Pacific region (the others are Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore) and is also a launch with personal significance for founder and CEO Will Shu, whose family is Taiwanese.
In a press statement, Shu said “Our launch in Taiwan is also a personal milestone for me, my parents were born in Taiwan and much of my family still lives in Taipei. Taiwan is the market with my favourite food in the world—my personal favourite is a big bowl of 牛肉麵 [beef noodle soup] and a huge piece of 炸雞排 [fried chicken]. From a personal standpoint, It’s an amazing feeling to launch Deliveroo in Taiwan.”
Once its Taiwan business starts, Deliveroo, which is reportedly eyeing an IPO to take place in the next two years, will operate in a total of 13 markets around the world. The company already faces stiff competition in Taipei, however, where its rivals will include Foodpanda, Uber Eats and Honestbee. Foodpanda was the first, launching five years ago, but Uber Eats quickly became a formidable rival when it entered Taiwan in 2016. Honestbee, a grocery and food delivery service, is also popular, and during lunch and dinner times riders carrying these services’ cooler bags on the backs of their scooters are a ubiqutious sight on Taipei’s streets.
Like other food delivery startups, all three offer costly incentives like discount codes, flash sales and free delivery to entice customers. The resulting war of attrition has forced food delivery services in other markets to withdraw or consolidate. For example, Foodpanda sold off its Vietnam and Indonesia operations, before the company itself was sold by Rocket Internet to larger rival Delivery Hero at the end of 2016.
Deliveroo has the advantage of a large war chest, however, and its funding (its Series F last year raised about $480 million at a valuation of more than $2 billion) will help it with the high cost of competition as it expands into new markets.