Food Fight

The battle for your belly is on...!

It seems you now can't cross a street in Berlin or London without a food delivery biker careering past you, Deliveroo or Foodora emblazoned on their box. Competition is fierce across Europe, as the biggest established players - Deliveroo, Delivery Hero, Just Eat, Takeaway.com to name a few - carve up the key cities and put marketing spend and business model prowess to the test. 

> Is it satisfying demand for high-end burgers and or low-end biryani that brings home the bacon? 

> Is it the business of ordering platforms and infrastructure alone, or taking on delivery too that cuts the mustard? All are being tried, to varying degrees of success. 

And then there's Uber and Amazon entering the tussle...with their deep pockets and logistical know-how - can they compete against the food focused players? 

The threat alone is driving the need for cash to splash by these startups. So the battleground is shifting from consumer's wallets, to investor's wallets too. Deliveroo closed a new round of funding last month for $275m, and now Takeaway.com could also put itself in the hallowed list of European "unicorns" as it seeks to raise up to Eu441 million through an IPO this month that is set to value the company in excess of Eu1 billion.

Meanwhile, Berlin-based Delivery Hero, 37% backed by Rocket Internet, has been keeping a close eye on the IPO market. The time is not quite right to serve up the next German startup share sale the CEO Niklas Östberg told me, funding is not yet necessary. For now the focus is on showing a profitable business - something I am sure is aimed at whetting investor appetite. As for the large helping of competition coming from the US giants Uber and Amazon...he digests it well...“It’s very hard for someone to come in at a very late stage and make it sustainable and profitable.” 

Liking the Lederhose

This week took me to Munich and a large dose of Bavarian culture sprinkled upon a tech event called - somewhat humorously - Bits & Pretzels. Cue "Dirndl dresses" for women, "Lederhose" for men sported readily by the beer swigging entrepreneurs as they networked merrily amid the city's Oktoberfest celebrations.

There was some top tech talent at Bits & Pretzels and I fortunately caught up with one of the keynote speakers - co-founder and CTO of Airbnb, Nathan Blecharczyk. He rolled straight off stage, happily modelling the German leather breeches and stopping for the odd selfie with startup fans, to chat with us about fundraising, emerging market expansion and Airbnb's focus on business travel. Full of energy from his conference address, full of focus from funding-round success, and full of humour enough to do a live interview in his Bavarian beer-hall breeches...I had to hand it to him - he was an impressive interviewee. Think I'd definitely take the shorts over the "dirndl" though.