How a German wants to change shopping in New York

Ralf Wenzel

Wenzel founded a delivery service with Foodpanda back in 2012.

(Photo: Softbank)

New York Finding small warehouses in the heart of New York has never been easier. The city is badly hit after the pandemic, every third retailer and every third restaurant did not survive the crisis. Therefore Ralf Wenzel uses his chance. He is CEO and co-founder of the delivery start-up Jokr, which will soon be launched in New York.

Similar to the German delivery service Gorillas, Wenzel relies on delivery times of less than 15 minutes. This works because Jokr does not send its messengers to existing supermarkets, but operates its own “hyper-local” warehouses and often purchases the goods directly from the manufacturers. “We do without the middlemen and can therefore offer supermarket prices,” says Wenzel in an interview with the Handelsblatt. Artificial intelligence should help to determine the right needs at the right time in order to keep delivery routes as short as possible.

He has won his former employer Softbank as an investor for the start-up, as well as the venture capitalist HV Captial and the investor Tiger Global. Softbank is also involved in a number of other ride and delivery services around the world, including Uber, GoPuff, and Grab.

At the end of 2019, Wenzel was appointed to the management of the crisis-ridden office landlord WeWork, into which Softbank has invested billions, for a transition phase. The 41-year-old is very familiar with the world of delivery services. In 2012 he founded the delivery service Foodpanda, which was taken over by competitor Delivery Hero in 2016 and went public a year later.

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Now Wenzel wants to build a company “for the new generation of retailers”, as he says, partly with his old and well-rehearsed team from the Delivery Panda times. A generation who not only shop online, but also want the goods to be delivered immediately – with profound consequences for brick-and-mortar retail.

Supermarkets are becoming showrooms

Wenzel assumes that stores will increasingly become showrooms in which customers try out and try on goods and then order them at home. With this, Jokr is trying to compete with the online giant Amazon. When it comes to so-called hyper-local deliveries, “Amazon is just as much a start-up as we are,” believes Wenzel.

Jokr has already started in Mexico City, Lima and Sao Paulo, and locations in Europe are to follow shortly in addition to New York. Unlike many other delivery services, Wenzel wants to employ his delivery men on a permanent basis “and pay fairly”, he assures.

Delivery services are a hotly contested field in which investors have high hopes. Gorillas was valued at over $ 1 billion following a funding round in late March. The Asian app Grab is listed in the US via the wallet and with a valuation of 40 billion dollars is the largest so-called Spac IPO of all time.

More: Biggest Spac deal so far: Grab rideshare is valued at $ 40 billion



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