One of New York's most popular food delivery startups is suddenly shutting down
Maple, a food delivery startup that launched in New York City in 2015, announced in a letter that it will be closing shop today.
"Over the past several months we've been spending most of our time thinking about the future of our business — what comes next for Maple? The more time we spent trying to answer this question, the more evident it became that of all the paths we had contemplated, the most compelling next step in Maple's story involved a shift from our current approach," the letter reads.
"While an incredibly difficult decision for us given the effect on our core operations, it became clear that we needed to close the Maple operation here in New York and look for a partner with scale — one that would allow us to leverage all that we had built across a broader platform."
Maple had a preset menu for lunch and dinner every day of the week, excluding Saturdays. Meals could be ordered on Seamless, Maple's homepage, or on Maple's app. Each meal was whipped up by line cooks in one of the startup's five kitchens before being handed over to a delivery person who brought it to its destination. All of Maple's employees were W2 workers.
Maple was founded by Caleb Merkl and Akshay Navle. Menus were developed by Executive Chef Soa Davies, who previously worked in research and development at the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Bernardin.
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Maple raised $22 million in Series A funding in March 2015. Greenoaks Capital led the round, with contributions from Thrive Capital, Primary Ventures, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn, and Momofuku founder David Chang. It had previously raised $4 million in seed funding in November 2014.
According to leaked documents that were reported on by Recode in December, Maple appeared to have lost money on every meal in 2015, though it began earning a profit of 30 cents per meal by March 2016. The documents showed that the startup was forecasting an operating loss of $16 million for 2016.
Though the initial plan was to offer lunches for $12 and dinners for $15 (including tax, tip, and delivery), Maple eventually abandoned that pricing model and started charging delivery fees on meals of varying costs.
Maple isn't the only food delivery startup to struggle and sell its parts to a competitor in an increasingly crowded space. Last March, SpoonRocket, a California-based delivery service, shut down and sold its IP to a Brazil-based company. In its footsteps, startups like Din and Bento have also closed down.
Deliveroo, which, according to Maple's announcement today, is absorbing some of the startup's team, is one of the highly funded competitors trying to take on incumbents like Seamless parent company GrubHub and UberEats. Deliveroo has raised nearly half a billion dollars from investors including Yuri Milner's DST Global, Accel Partners, and General Catalyst.
"Given the overlap in our goals and the significant scale of Deliveroo's operations, working together makes sense," the Maple letter reads. "As a result, some members of the Maple team will join Deliveroo operations in London, and our technology will be used to help accelerate growth and efficiency across the platform."
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