March 30, 2016

David Chang’s Food Delivery Startup – Maple, uses cutting edge Tech to streamline services

Maple was co-founded by COO Akshay Navle, CEO Caleb Merkl and Executive Chef Soa Davies, former head of menu research and development at Three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin.

Backed by David Chang, Maple promises an an almost utopian delivery experience using only carefully sourced, made-to-order food from a constantly rotating menu.

Says Caleb “We want to make delivery food exceptional at every touch point, and to do that we have to own the entire process. From sourcing ingredients to developing our own menus, building a back-end to get the food there.”

This ideology is very similar to how Apple works.  No process is outsourced.  From procurement to delivery the entire chain is handled in house thereby ensuring strict control over standards and company ethos.

Ingredients are sourced from carefully vetted suppliers.  For example, the chicken is antibiotic-free and free-range, many of the vegetables are sourced from local farms.

The menus are created and designed to be delivery-friendly. The emphasis is on providing restaurant style food delivered to the offices or homes.


Maple does not have any physical outlets but just operate kitchens, where food is prepared and delivered from. This way they can keep costs low and have a large number of drivers to cover entire neighbourhoods quickly and within 30 minutes, as advertised.

Each kitchen is serviced by a fleet of around 50 drivers and average close to 800 deliveries per hour during lunch time.

Managing delivery expectations of customers and such a large fleet of drivers has proved to be a challenge.  Very early on Maple’s COO Akshay realized that a custom technological solution was needed to accurately predict delivery time of each order and assign appropriate drivers.

The company’s tech department has delved deep into each process and created a system which can accurately predict preparation time of dishes, based on the cooking speed of the particular Chef on duty, determine travel time, bunch orders going in the same direction and even decide how many deliveries can each driver take at a time without compromising delivery time and food temperature.

This level of sophistication has never been applied by food delivery companies and the the results are there for everyone to see.

Turnaround time from order to delivery is only 30 minutes, wherein industry wide accepted norm is 45 minutes. Food reaches the customer fresh and still fairly warm.

This year Maple has achieved 1100 deliveries per hour which translates to almost 19 deliveries per minute.

Maple has shown the food delivery industry what can be achieved by a lean business model coupled with innovative IT support. This also means that companies can maintain profitability at competitive price points and also ensure ethical sourcing of ingredients. So what exactly is the business model that Maple is pioneering.

Eliminate cost of order takers:

By making Maple Apps or the website the only way a customer can place the order they have done away with the requirement for a call Centre to take orders over the phone.  This has resulted in a substantial monthly saving and also eliminated human error from the ordering process entirely.

Bid goodbye to premium Prime Location Rentals:

There is no need to pay hefty amounts to open a restaurant or a rent a delivery kitchen in prime locations.
Open Kitchens in low rent areas that have easy access to the prime locations, thereby reducing leasehold or rental costs tremendously.

Have many kitchens in a city:

Because Maple is not paying premium rates for restaurant rentals they can afford to setup multiple kitchens within a city faster and more economically than restaurant chain like even Chipotle.

This gives them access to a much larger client base thereby ensuring higher than normal business.  The prime example is the industry leading statistic of processing 1100 orders per hour.

Hire large number of delivery Drivers:

By saving on expensive rentals Maple has ploughed in some of that money in to hiring large number of delivery drivers for each kitchen.

This ensures that they can maintain the target delivery time of 30 minutes for almost every order.

Having more drivers also gives them access to a larger delivery footprint than a normal business would have. On an average they keep around 50 drivers per kitchen.

The custom software removes the need for people to manage the delivery process:

As mentioned earlier the proprietary software developed by Maple does all the intelligent work for them without any breaks or tantrums.

This software has removed any need for a human interface to manage the vast delivery network chain wide.

Ethical sourcing of ingredients:

Maple takes pride in their sourcing module and principles.  Where ever possible they try to source produce form local farms and ensure high quality of ingredients.

This pride is showcased in the ingredient information for each dish they offer to the customer whilst ordering.



As more customers get conscious of the quality of ingredients and their source, Maple is able to tap into and profit from this new found awareness.

Ordering process:

It normally takes less than a couple of minutes to make your selection and complete the checkout process. Once the registration is done the process becomes even shorter for a repeat customer as their contact details and card details are stored in the system.

This seamless ordering process makes it an effortless excercise for a prospective customer.

This business model is already paying rich dividends for Maple and they are hoping to increase their expansion rate considerably across US.