Tiny Homer plans to stay ahead of the pack through a slow and steady expansion, conquering one highly local, ultra-dense, urban market at a time. Manhattan is the first stop, but eventually Price plans to expand to such areas as The Loop in Chicago and Philadelphia's Center City.
Homer 's investors and customers also point to a number of the company's advantages. First, there's the basic business model of working behind-the-scenes with restaurants, instead of focusing on the consumer. "They're not driven by reaching a lot of individuals," said Jeffrey Silverman, managing director of Laconia Capital Group, a New York City-based venture capital firm focusing on pre-Series A-stage startups that is considering investing in Homer. "It's much more efficient to do this from the restaurant perspective."
Perhaps most important is the company's staff of delivery people, who get a full roster of benefits. To keep turnover at a level of less than 10 percent, employees receive a guaranteed salary starting at $10 an hour, including tips, plus bonuses; average pay is around $15 an hour. They're also outfitted with important accessories, wind guards that fit over the handle bars and face masks.
And they attend monthly meetings held in a rented theater, where they're free to raise questions and make suggestions, which are frequently followed up on. For example, last April, in response to employee complaints, Price changed the delivery bag to an insulated backpack, according to Carmelo Rodriguez, a trainer who started as a delivery person a year ago.
"Delivery is now an extension of our brand," said Josh Morgan, operating partner of Aurify Brands, a New York City-based restaurant group that started using Homer for two of its 28 locations nine months ago, which are located primarily in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. Plus, delivery time has decreased from about 45 minutes to 20 minutes, increasing the number of orders the restaurant can fill. While Morgan hasn't tracked the numbers so far, "As we provide more consistent and reliable service, our delivery business is going to increase a lot," he said.