Discover more from The Curbivore
2/7 Webinar - Delivering Profits: New Channels for Growing Revenue & Connecting to Consumers
Plus, meet Curbivore 2023's newest speakers
Tune in Tuesday at 10 AM Pacific / 1 PM Eastern for what should be a fascinating discussion about alternative delivery business models, managing complex cold chains, controlling supplier costs, and the impact that iconic businesses and restaurants can have on a neighborhood. Expect some interesting insights out of this group!
DID YOU CATCH TUESDAY’S SPEAKER ANNOUNCEMENT?
ICYMI - Tuesday we announced the latest batch of Curbivore’s 2023 speakers. I’m not playing favorites, because these are all fantastic names with deep expertise on interrelated issues, but let’s take a look at why these folks are truly curb rockstars…
🚌 Connie Llanos - Heads up LA’s Department of Transportation (you think your job is complicated? Try managing the city’s parking, shared mobility, livable streets, taxis, transportation planning, and some but not all of its buses.) And if that wasn’t enough, she sits on the board of the Open Mobility Foundation, which governs the MDS and CDS standards.
🚚 David Meers - Leads grocery and retail fulfillment for Uber / Uber Eats. Sounds like a walk in the park after his last job at Amazon!
🍕 Benson Tsai - After getting bored of sending rockets into space for Elon, Benson decided to work on something more difficult: making the perfect pizza, with a robot, inside of a truck. We’ll be serving these pies at the conference, come hungry…
🥡 Corey Manicone - Founded Zuul Kitchen to rethink food delivery. After a buyout by Kitchen United, he’s strategizing about the future of ghost kitchens.
🚴♂️ Gene Oh - Went from enabling bike commuters across the country to helping LA kick its bus shelter program into a higher gear.
🎂 Candace Nelson - Made cupcakes famous when she started Sprinkles, and instead of staying stationary she whipped up new ideas like the Sprinklesmobile and Cupcake ATM. Now she’s slingin’ pizza, hosting TV shows and has a new book out.
🛵 Emre Ucer - You’ve seen Pico’s scooters powering hard-working delivery workers all across SoCal; now he has a commission free solution for restaurateurs.
💸 Prescott Watson - As GP at RedBlue Ventures, he’s funded more impactful mobility startups than we can count.
📱 David Pickerell - Cooking up new tools to put more dollars in drivers’ pockets.
🗞️ Jackie Davalos and Nancy Luna - Two of the smartest technology / industry reporters in the biz.
💵 Piers Mainwaring - Innovating new ways for game-changing startups to pay contractors.
🔌 Tiya Gordon - Her EV charging startup is literally repowering the curb.
🚛 Paul Vitrano - While WAEV might not yet be a household name, you’ve certainly seen its portfolio of brands - GEM, Taylor-Dunn and Tiger - enabling mobility and delivery for decades.
🗺️ Akash Agarwal - A king of location intelligence and mapping at Beans.ai.
🚇 Hilary Norton - Having led the California Transportation Commission, she knows a thing or two about getting infrastructure funded and built.
The list goes on and on; I think it’s truly our best group yet. Technically our “early bird” ticket pricing expired yesterday, but if you’re a slow poke (am I mixing metaphors?) you can save $100 if you register with the code “oops” - or click here. (We forgive you…)
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
A profusion of PDD particulars! It’s been a busy week for delivery bots - Serve kicked off an equity crowd-funding campaign, while Ottonomy launches in Spain and Starship marks four years of service at GMU. Toronto’s Tiny Mile just launched a three-wheeled bot in Miami. It tickles us that companies always cite South Florida’s weather as an advantage to trialing the region; do you think a two-foot high robot can cross a flooded street during a king tide? ;)
Greenbacks for the Golden State: The California State Transportation Agency doled out $2.5 billion in surplus funding, exciting news since the next budget is looking decidedly less generous. Up north there was plenty of money for BART and Caltrain. In LA County, Metrolink scored $106 million as it inches towards providing frequent service, Inglewood got $407 million for its stadium-centric people mover, and LA Metro received $600 million for light rail in the Valley (which at about $200 million per mile would get you a proper subway in other developed countries…)
Is Arrival departing? The beleaguered British electric van startup cut 800 jobs, while its SPAC-ified shares sits in penny stock territory. Even delivery stalwarts aren’t safe, as Fedex looks to be cutting back on managers.
Why does it take federal money to keep local streets in decent shape? It’s nice to see some fresh cash coming from down the mountain to keep streets in LA and Seattle in humane condition, but given that most of these projects are more “fix crumbling gutters” than “actual multi-modal complete / safe street paradise” - it’s a sad state of affairs that this requires help from Uncle Sam.
No such thing as a free lunch (ingredients delivery): Amazon is raising the minimum order price for free grocery delivery. Previously Prime members only had to shell out $35; now you’ll need at least $150 worth of chow.
Big news from our 2023 partners! Itselectric sits down with Forbes to talk about scaling charging on city streets. XOTO teases a video of its sleek three-wheeled scooters. Stellar Pizza’s Benson Tsai sits down on the Full Stack Food podcast to share his journey from rocketman to robotic pizzaiolo.
The battle for Buffalo: Upstate New York’s Tops Market is moving to use in-store employees, as opposed to Instacart workers, to fulfill select delivery orders. As usual this remains a fast-changing industry, highlighting the challenges of building defensible terrain on both the supply and demand sides…
TNC TAM? On Twitter, Harry poses an interesting question, has the TNC industry hit the entirety of its total addressable market? GBV (gross book value) looks to have flatlined the past few quarters. That said, if #RTO ever fully hits its stride, I’d expect those numbers to creep up again, especially if public transit service remains underfunded.
Kicking the tires, literally: New data from Germany shows that 75% of shoppers prefer to buy an e-bike in a physical store (ideally stocking multiple brands) as opposed to online. Of course, the classic challenge here would be the “showroom effect” - where shoppers give all the bikes a spin in person, but then head to the internet to save a few bucks on the final purchase. So who’s left to pay rent on that high street shop? The last few weeks we’ve seen disappointing financial numbers from once high-flying brands like VanMoof, likely as they run low on shoppers that want to spend $3-5k sight unseen. I will say that when I ran the marketing for a D2C ebike brand in the olden days, we tried to solve this problem by setting up a network where prospective buyers could test drive a bike from an existing owner nearby. Shoppers trust a happy owner over a biased salesperson, and it’s also a nice way to create a community of likeminded individuals. Or you can just do what Rad Power has done and spend millions of dollars building out a nationwide network of stores while hoping you can somehow maintain the cut-rate margins that only worked when you were an online-only brand…
A few good links: Trees good. Composting hard (at least for simple-minded New Yorkers.) Point your peepers on a potential new LA Arts District Metro station. Go behind the scenes on the fundraising drama that nearly sunk Aussie instant delivery startup Milkrun. Can we please remove the police from traffic stops completely? LA to finally stop automatic road widening. Ebike rebates land in Hawaii. Drizly and Gopuff form a boozy new partnership. Quick and cheesy…
Don’t forget to register for Tuesday’s webinar!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew