Tag Archives: food

Food delivery app Deliveroo raises $100m to expand beyond Europe

The premium food delivery app has closed its third funding round this year, bringing its total raised in 2015 to $195m

Deliveroo has raised $100m (£66m) from a group of venture capital funds including Facebook investors Accel and DST Global to fuel the London-based food delivery start-up’s international expansion.

The funding round is Deliveroo’s third this year, bringing its total capital raised in the past 12 months to $195m.

Will Shu, chief executive, said the investment would fuel the company’s expansion to Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney.

“This is our first foray outside Europe. We’re now very much a global company and that’s significant,” said Mr Shu, a former investment banker who founded the company alongside software developer Greg Orlowski in 2013.

The Series D funding round was led by Yuri Milner’s investment firm DST Global – which has backed Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb – and San Francisco-based Greenoaks Capital.

Deliveroo also raised funds from existing investors Accel, Hummingbird Ventures and Index Ventures, whose portfolios include Facebook, Asos and King Entertainment.

In addition to its international expansion, the Soho-based businesses will ramp up its marketing and hiring activities to increase its presence in its current markets amid strong competition from other food delivery technology companies such as Just Eat and Hungry House.

Deliveroo differs from its rivals because it connects users with high quality restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments and independent eateries such as Trishna and Dishoom to upmarket chains including Wagamama, Dirty Burger and Busaba Eathai.

“There’s been a big boom in premium casual dining across the world over the last 10 to 15 years,” Mr Shu said. “In 2001, Paris was either Michelin-starred restaurants or kebab shops, and London wasn’t that far off.

“Now there’s the Parisian take on the burger, Hong Kong’s take on the taco and the Berlin take on dim sum. There’s been a strong movement towards better food in a more casual setting. We’re creating a mainstream product.”

Deliveroo’s daily orders have increased 10-fold since January, when the company took its first step beyond London and opened in Brighton. It has since expanded outside of the UK, launching first in Dublin in April and then branching out into another 19 European cities.

Online transactions now account for 40pc of all food delivery orders in the UK, up from 8pc in 2008, according to the market research firm NPD Group.

Just Eat, the online food ordering service that launched in 2001, raised £1.47bn when it listed on the London Stock Exchange last year in the UK’s largest technology flotation in eight years.

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A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone

The tens of thousands of migrants who have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks need food, water and shelter, just like the millions displaced by war the world over. But there is also one other thing they swear they cannot live without: a smartphone charging station.

“Every time I go to a new country, I buy a SIM card and activate the Internet and download the map to locate myself,” Osama Aljasem, a 32-year-old music teacher from Deir al-Zour, Syria, explained as he sat on a broken park bench in Belgrade, staring at his smartphone and plotting his next move into northern Europe.

“I would never have been able to arrive at my destination without my smartphone,” he added. “I get stressed out when the battery even starts to get low.”

Technology has transformed this 21st-century version of a refugee crisis, not least by making it easier for millions more people to move. It has intensified the pressures on routes that prove successful — like this one through the Balkans, where the United Nations said Tuesday that about 3,000 people a day continued to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia.

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In this modern migration, smartphone maps, global positioning apps, social media and WhatsApp have become essential tools.

Migrants depend on them to post real-time updates about routes, arrests, border guard movements and transport, as well as places to stay and prices, all the while keeping in touch with family and friends.

The first thing many do once they have successfully navigated the watery passage between Turkey and Greece is pull out a smartphone and send loved ones a message that they made it.

Much of the change is driven by the tens of thousands of middle-class Syrians who have been displaced by war. Such tools are by no means limited to them, and are also used by migrants from Africa and the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Traffickers advertise their services on Facebook like any legitimate travel agency, with dynamic photographs of destination cities and generous offers.

On the Arabic-language Facebook group Trafficking to Europe, one trafficker offers a 50 percent discount for children under 5. The 1,700 euro price of the journey from Istanbul to Thessaloniki, Greece, about $1,900, includes travel by car to and from each side of the border with a two-hour walk across.

“We have cars going every day,” the trafficker boasts. One user asked whether there was a family discount for multiple passengers. And in case one doubts the offer’s veracity, the post has 39 “likes.”

The Trafficking to Europe group, with 6,057 members, is merely one small corner of an entire new world of social media available to Syrians and others making the perilous journey to Europe.

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Syrians are helped along their journeys by Arabic-language Facebook groups like “Smuggling Into the E.U.,” with 23,953 members, and “How to Emigrate to Europe,” with 39,304.

The discussions are both public and private, requiring an invitation from a group administrator. Migrants share photos and videos of their journeys taken on their smartphones.

The groups are used widely by those traveling alone and with traffickers. In fact, the ease and autonomy the apps provide may be cutting into the smuggling business.

“Right now, the traffickers are losing business because people are going alone, thanks to Facebook,” said Mohamed Haj Ali, 38, who works with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital — a major stopover for migrants.

Originally from Syria, Mr. Ali has lived in Belgrade for three years, helping migrants and listening to their stories. At first, he said, most migrants passing through Serbia had paid traffickers for most or all of their trip.

But as tens of thousands completed their journeys, they shared their experiences on social media — even the precise GPS coordinates of every stop along their routes, recorded automatically by some smartphones.

For those traveling today, the prices charged by traffickers have gone down by about half since the beginning of the conflict, Mr. Ali said.

The only part of the journey that most migrants still pay traffickers for, he said, is the crossing from Turkey to Greece. Many migrants now feel able to make the rest of the journey on their own with a GPS-equipped smartphone and without paying traffickers.

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Mr. Ali noted the popularity of Facebook groups such as “Smuggle Yourself to Europe Without a Trafficker.”

“Syrians are not idiots,” he said.

Mr. Aljasem, encountered in the park, said he kept in touch with his 21 siblings in five countries through WhatsApp, which requires only an Internet connection. Their private messaging group is called Our Family.

Once he left Syria, Mr. Aljasem said one of the first things he did was get a new smartphone, because it was too dangerous to travel with one in Syria. Soldiers at government checkpoints, as well as at Islamic State checkpoints, commonly demand Facebook passwords, he said. They look at Facebook profiles to determine one’s allegiance in the war.

“If you didn’t give the soldiers your Facebook password, they would beat you, destroy your phone or worse,” Mr. Aljasem said.

The technology is transforming the ways refugees and international aid agencies interact, even before the refugees enter Europe.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has distributed 33,000 SIM cards to Syrian refugees in Jordan and 85,704 solar lanterns that can also be used to charge cellphones.

“For the U.N.H.C.R., there is a shift in understanding of what assistance provision actually is,” said Christopher Earney of the refugee agency’s innovation office in Geneva.

Pawel Krzysiek, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Damascus, Syria, said smartphones enabled refugees to exchange information and interact with international agencies rather than just receive information passively.

“We are at the end of the social network age and are entering the social messaging age,” Mr. Krzysiek said.

When a water main broke in Aleppo in northern Syria in July, the committee helped organize a network of clean drinking-water points, and posted a map of the sites on Facebook. Mr. Krzysiek said that because of the water crisis, posts on the group’s Facebook Syria page had reached 10 times as many people as regular posts about the group’s activities.

According to a Facebook analytics report, the committee’s map of safe water distribution sites in Aleppo was seen by 133,187 people, and received 14,683 clicks and 4,859 likes, comments and shares.

Another example Mr. Krzysiek gave was a popular Facebook page in Syria reporting real-time counts of mortar rounds falling on Damascus and maps of their locations, allowing users to avoid certain areas.

Mohammed Salmoni, 21, from Kabul, Afghanistan, who had stopped to charge his phone at a newspaper kiosk in Belgrade, credited it with saving his life.

He used it to navigate a 40-hour walk across the Afghan province of Nimruz to the Iranian city of Zahedan. “It was very dangerous,” he said.

For others, cellphones are an archive of still deeper connections.

Shadad Alhassan, 39, said he had “lost everything” when his home was bombed in Damascus, where he once worked installing electrical inverters in a skyscraper under construction.

“My wife died in the bombing,” he said. “Now I have nothing left besides my two sons.” He indicated Wassem, 10, and Nazih, 9, sitting with him on a sleeping bag on the dirt in the park.

His smartphone held photographs, his only connection to the life he once lived.

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IBM joins forces with Mars, taps genomics, to boost food safety

Tech heavyweight IBM has joined forces with food manufacturing giant Mars in an attempt to boost global food safety.

Scientists from the two companies have founded the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, tapping advances in genomics to gain a better understanding of food safety.

IBM says that researchers will investigate the genetic fingerprints of living organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, examining how they grow in environments such as countertops, factories, and raw materials. The data will be used to investigate how bacteria interact, with scientists hopeful the results will improve food safety management across the supply chain.

“It’s becoming extremely complex with the global supply chain,” Jeff Welser, lab director of IBM’s Almaden research center in San Jose, Calif., told FoxNews.com. “A small problem in one place can travel quickly,”

The consortium will conduct the largest ever study of metagenomics, aiming to better categorize and understand micro-organisms and their impact in factory environments.

“[Metagenomics] is using genomics to identify the microorganisms in a sample to determine whether they are healthy or not,” said Welser. “It could be a piece of food or an ingredient for food, or it could be a swab taken from a machine in a food processing plant.”

“We have to figure out what microorganisms there are,” he added. “Are the population sites healthy? Are they normal?”

The first samples will be taken from Mars-owned production facilities. Scientists from U.C. Davis will sequence the sample data, which will then be sent to IBM. “We take it to do the work on the analytics and algorithms,” said Welser. “Over time, we will build a database that we will use as a reference for what is normal.”

IBM is no stranger to handling vast quantities of complex data. Last year, for example, the company enhanced its Watson supercomputer, famous for its appearance on the quiz show “Jeopardy,” in an attempt to speed up the pace of scientific breakthroughs.

Welser told FoxNews.com that IBM is actively pursuing other partners to join the consortium, with the support of Mars. “Food safety is not a competitive issue, all companies want food to be safe,” he said.

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