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Upmarket restaurants embrace a tech delivery service

Fancy a three-course Japanese meal or juicy steak from a fancy restaurant but just can't get off your couch or office desk? Of course there's a startup for that.

Foodora, is a global premium food delivery startup with a presence in over 21 cities. For peckish customers with deep-pockets, Foodora's selling point is a waiting time of less than 30 minutes for upmarket restaurant takeaways.

"We target the highest segment of the food delivery segment, so we tend to partner with high-end restaurants, popular restaurants," said Daniel Azzopardi, chief operating officer at Foodora, in a CNBC interview.

The food service startup has partnered with "established restaurant chains and even independent names" such as Wagamama in Stockholm, Galeries Lafayette in Berlin and Little Bao in Hong Kong.

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The Berlin-based startup does not compete with restaurants, but seeks a partnership with them. Foodora leaves the cooking to the professionals while providing the ordering platform and delivery service.

Azzopardi adds that Foodora actually helps restaurants to "reach a wider customer base" while collecting a commission fee from restaurant partners.

Unfortunately, the perception of food delivery is still widely associated with fast food or pizzas. This is a problem that Foodora has to tackle in order to attract both its target customers and restaurant partners.

"There is this image about food delivery being somewhat downscale to the kind of experience you can have in a restaurant," noted Azzopardi.

"We're actually trying to change that by taking care of the whole process from the minute that a customer orders to the moment that it is delivered to their door," he added.

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Azzopardi acknowledged that Foodora is not meant to replace the experience of restaurant dining, but rather, serves as an alternative for busy people who are "cash rich, time poor."

The Rocket Internet-backed startup launched only in October 2014 and now boasts more than 2,500 partner restaurants globally.

Rocket Internet also backs Foodpanda, a larger company operating in 40 countries and offering a similar meal courier service. However, Foodpanda differs from Foodora, as it provides more commercial and lower-range options, like fast-food brands.

In Hong Kong, Foodora was launched to target both office workers and households in Central, Sheung Wan, and mid-levels, which are areas populated with "international blue-chip firms, law firms and other professional service firms," said Azzopardi.

Foodpanda, on the other hand, has delivery services available beyond the central district to include the New Territories and Hong Kong Island. The minimum order amount is also higher for Foodora compared to Foodpanda.

The food service startup sector faces stiff competition with too many players, and many more popping up.

Food delivery was originally just a phone business and only recently started to make the shift online so obviously there are going to be competitors because it is a lucrative market, said Azzopardi.

Yi Sung Yong, co-founder of Grain, a food startup focused on providing healthy meal deliveries, said to CNBC that "there has definitely been a rise in food-related startups in Asia."

"In general, it is hard to not just break even in the food service industry but also to make a good profit. The food delivery space is likely to be a lot tougher," Yong said.

Grain differs from Foodora as a "full-stack food delivery" startup which manages the whole process from food preparation to handling orders to meal delivery. This, Yong added, is Grain's competitive advantage.

According to Chris Parrott, director of marketing at Foodora, Europe has seen explosive growth in the past 15 months, with an average of 20 percent week-on-week growth. The startup recently expanded in Hong Kong and is optimistic about higher growth rates as they continue to expand to more areas in Hong Kong and increase company awareness.

Foodora also made its debut in Singapore yesterday.

"Singapore has a similar composition of restaurants and consumers to Hong Kong, so we expect the orders to follow along a similar growth trajectory," said Parrott.

Follow Aza on Twitter at @Aza_Wee