Lieferando.de was founded in 2008, in the middle of the financial crisis, by Jörg Gerbig and Christoph Gerber, after teaming up with Rheingau Founders in Berlin.
Jörg had the original idea for Lieferando. At the time, he was working as an investment banker at UBS in London. Not only was he an excellent M&A banker, but he also proved to have a great gut feeling about what would become one of the most successful online business models of our time. In 2008 he had his idea; however, he still needed support, financing and industry knowledge to make his idea for a food-ordering platform a reality. He turned to Tobias, Kai and Philipp of Rheingau Founders for help.
Even though Rheingau Founders was still in the process of being set up, and did not have the same professional structure it now has, the boys saw the potential and quickly adopted lieferando as their first project. In addition to connecting the founders, Rheingau helped conduct market research, created the pitch deck, built the legal structure and helped raise the first financing round. For more speed and efficiency in this early phase, Kai also took on an operational role as a co-founder, which he kept until exit in 2014.
At this time, lieferando was called “yourdelivery”, and presented itself as a B2B company offering a platform for employees to order meals during late overtime. With this business model yourdelivery was able to introduce cashless payment to the market. This feature was a huge USP, and made yourdelivery highly attractive to regular B2C customers too, while competitors were still stuck on old fashioned cash payments and needed years to catch up.
The management team quickly realized how profitable the online food delivery market could become and in 2010 decided to focus solely on the B2C market. This new direction needed a new, “sticky” name, and so “yourdelivery” was rebranded into “lieferando”. It has since become a well-known consumer brand with a huge, loyal customer base. The founders are keen to emphasize that getting to this point was only possible with a great team by their side.
Of course, the way to success wasn’t without some challenges. At the time of founding, the the financial crisis provided the biggest problem. Finding investors in the early days was generally difficult, as not many believed in the potential of online food ordering. And once it became clear how attractive the market can be, lieferando found themselves having to keep up with better-funded competitors.
As with every rapidly growing business, one of the biggest challenges was managing human resources to meet the rising operational and financial constraints. Understanding how important a good team is, lieferando has always focused on hiring the best people. “Building a company takes a lot more HR and leadership skills than many people think. You can only grow a rock-star company if you have rock-star employees,” Jörg Gerbig says, identifying one of their main learnings from that time.
Lieferando was evidently capable of rising to these challenges – the company is a clear success story, with the cooperation between lieferando and Rheingau ending with a multi-million euro exit that was ranked one of the five biggest German exits of 2014.
Rheingau’s position as a holistic co-founder, from setting up the basics to leading numerous funding processes, helped lieferando start expanding into Austria, Switzerland, Poland and France, before a successful end to the partnership story: lieferando sold to takeaway.com, one of the world’s largest online food ordering platforms.