Start-up of the Week: Piply

29 Aug 2016148 Shares

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Photo via Facebook/Piply

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Piply is a new online food delivery service for Dublin working with chefs and dietitians to offer better meals than its established competitors.

There’s no lack of online services willing to feed hungry patrons. Just Eat connects you to a swathe of takeaways within a local radius. Deliveroo will bring restaurant dining to your doorstep. Proprietary apps and websites ensure your food fave is just a few clicks away, no human interaction required. Domino’s has even gone to the great length of enabling ordering by pizza emoji in Facebook Messenger – because who wants to be dealing in words when they’re famished?

Short of delivering by drone or 3D-printing to our specific requirements (both of which are in the works), what more can technology do for our dinner?

How about feeding us something a bit healthier than the typical take-out?

Enter Piply, a new dinner delivery service for Dublin bringing a fresh and healthy take to takeaway.

Inspirefest 2017

Piply promises chef-crafted meals that have been planned with dietitians and cooked to order before being delivered to your door.

The target market should be obvious, but MD and co-founder Alexander Gartland explained it thus: “Busy professionals and families that want a great dinner without all the stress of sourcing recipes, gathering ingredients, cooking for an hour and then the dreaded clean-up!”

Gartland exhibits as much gusto in his opinion of the current available food delivery services. “The only alternative is absolute garbage from a traditional takeaway or using a restaurant delivery service. Restaurant food is generally rich and not designed to travel,” he said.

‘The only alternative is absolute garbage from a traditional takeaway or restaurant food that is generally rich and not designed to travel’
– ALEXANDER GARTLAND, PIPLY

Gartland comes from a tech start-up background. As well as running bricks-and-mortar businesses, he led the growth teams for consumer-facing technology businesses CurrencyFair and SkillPages.

“For me, transitioning to a dinner service that starts serving at 5pm when I am used to starting work at 8.30am has knocked my circadian rhythms off a little,” he said.

The nature of a food delivery service means the Piply team are up early in the morning working on the technology or business side, then working late into the night when the orders are coming in. It’s a schedule familiar to those in the start-up community, which has been a source of support for Gartland in his latest venture.

“I leaned on about 40 people I met on the start-up scene to help get Piply up and running,” he said. “I was able to discuss the platform infrastructure with a friend who is a CTO before we had any engineering resources. Similarly, I was able to architect a blueprint for our data and analytics schema with a head of business intelligence before we even went live.”

Food-related hiccups

Gartland’s co-founders bring the other necessary ingredients to the mix. Eamon Lynch is a qualified and very experienced chef while Garrett Fitzgerald is the entrepreneur and chef behind the notable Brother Hubbard café, restaurant and wine bar, and its titular cookbook.

Piply founders

Piply founders (from left) Alexander Gartland, Garrett Fitzgerald and Eamon Lynch

Together, this trio is delivering hot, fresh, food on-demand. And I mean that literally as – such is the way with a young company – it’s all hands on deck while they find their feet.

“I got locked inside a big gated house doing a delivery one night,” said Gartland. “That was hilarious.”

Less funny was when the team lost all their stock in their first week due to a refrigeration system failure. “You just have to truck on and get on with it,” was Gartner’s own takeaway from this episode, which is the right attitude for a young start-up that has already encountered challenges big and small.

“In the first couple of weeks we had a few hiccups. We were charging some customers twice, our geolocation integration failed,” said Gartland.

“However, with application performance tools like New Relic you can double down and pinpoint the problem to get it fixed quickly.”

A healthy start

Piply has only been open for business a few weeks now, and Gartland said there is lots to do and plenty of time before seeking investment becomes top of the agenda.

“Having worked in high-growth start-ups, I know the pains of raising round after round of funding,” he said. “I find the thought of bootstrapping desirable but, depending on the circumstances, of course, investment might be required.”

The very first home delivered meal by @piply.ie #sneakpeak #healthyfood #dublin

A photo posted by Piply (@piply.ie) on

He described initial interest in the start-up as “incredibly fortunate, with word of mouth being our strongest channel”.

For the first version of the web app, the Piply team invested heavily in usability design, geolocation services and a scalable infrastructure.

“As we grow, our data is becoming more and more insightful and we are looking at models that start to predict demand so we can align our resources efficiently,” said Gartland.

While long-term plans are already in the works, focus right now is on more immediate tasks. “We have toyed around with different acquisition channels but our focus for month one was to ensure we were shipping exceptional meals,” said Gartland.

‘Our big, audacious goal is to be the first choice for dinner’
– ALEXANDER GARTLAND, PIPLY

Ultimately, Gartland and Piply just want to help people eat better. “Our big, audacious goal is to be the first choice for dinner,” he said.

He also said that the start-up scene in Ireland has changed his life.

“I have been so lucky to have worked in high-growth technology businesses. Start-ups, by their nature, provide a fast-paced environment and I was able to learn an incredible amount in a short space of time. I met some of the brightest, most inspiring people.”

His advice to anyone seeking a similar life-changing experience? “Get yourself into a start-up, learn the ropes and then go do it yourself.”

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Elaine Burke is managing editor of Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com