20. June 2016–
"We started out by renting the kitchen of an Indonesian restaurant on weekends," co-founder Steffen Oldenburg tells me, looking back to September 2015. Together with his co-founder Dominik Senk and four friends he founded EarlyTaste, a startup that delivers breakfast, in Cologne. But what sounds like pizza delivery for scrambled eggs and smoothies does in fact have more to it.
Opening hours: Saturday – Sunday
People mostly request delivered breakfast during the weekend – from Oldenburg's experience almost twice as much on Sundays than Saturdays. Those two days being the only ones the service was available, EarlyTaste could not afford to rent a kitchen for all days during the week.
An Indonesian restaurant, that closed over the weekends, rented its kitchen to the startup. Maybe, to start off, a good idea. Looking back, Oldenburg remembers that on the first weekend exactly one person ordered – a friend.
By now orders have increased to up to 80 per Sunday and a second base was opened in Dusseldorf about two months ago.
Here is how it works
EarlyTaste has its own kitchen by now, one in each city. On weekends, about eight people gather at 6:15 am and start organizing and preparing food. Since most of its food items are cold (fruits with yoghurt, cheese or sausage plates) these can be prepared. "Boiled or scrambled eggs are made fresh, right after the order comes in," Oldenburg points out.
It's interesting to point out that EarlyTaste tries to use mostly local products. That's easy when it comes to sausages, but obviously not possible when it comes to avocados.
Customers can start ordering at 8:15 am a minimum order value of €15. This rises to either €18 or €24 if customers live further away from the city centre. When the first orders come in some of the staff members that first prepared food become drivers. Six people are needed to deliver 80 orders, the startup says.
While the startup first promised to deliver within 25 minutes, it since changed to 30 – 45 minutes. "Customers don't really mind. It's simply about managing expectations," Oldenburg explains.
How to catch people's attention
You can see and read people's excitement about the home delivered breakfasts on Instagram when searching the hashtag earlytaste. But that is not all that is to it. Besides local press, SEO and Google Adwords, blogger relations and a printed flyer, the startup figured out another way to promote their business in an effective way:
The large window in front of their kitchen advertising the service is very prominent – and it comes in handy that the tram stops right in front every few minutes, the co-founder states.
How will the toasts on wheels service expand
The team started in Cologne, simply because that's where they are located. Dusseldorf made sense, because it is pretty much right next door. The next location will be Berlin, which I thought would be difficult since Berlin is so much bigger than the other two cities. But an advantage over other food delivery services, such as Rocket Internet's EatFirst (who aimed to deliver warm lunches within 15 minutes and shut down in March this year) is that breakfast mostly has cold ingredients.
However, location expansion is on hold until the startup figures out another market segment: Breakfast for offices and companies during the week. But getting private customers excited about delivered breakfasts is much easier than explaining that to companies, I was told.
Maybe the next funding round will help – the previous €100,000 raised in January 2016 from business angel Prof. Wolfgang Michael Nietzer, who is part of the Cologne-based food startup investment group, will not last until the startup reaches break-even.
Within nine month of being in business, the startup found interesting behaviour facts:
- Not so surprising is that orders rise about 30 per cent when it is raining outside
- As mentioned above, twice as many people order on Sundays than on Saturdays
- During the winter time people mostly ordered warm dishes, like eggs. With the summer and the sunshine knocking on our doors, customers tend to order fruits, yogurts and such.
- Homemade hummus is a thing – even for breakfast
- Fresh-made orange juice is not ordered as often as one would think
Whether it's summer or winter, we hope for EarlyTaste to come to Berlin soon. We will surely test the service and share our experience on HEUREKA.