Man at His Best

Meet The Man Behind Deliveroo Singapore

General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore, Tristan Torres, on his company's 'phenomenal' growth and food delivery partnership with the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016.

BY Interview by Wayne Cheong | Jul 25, 2016 | Food & Drink

After only six months in Singapore, Deliveroo has gone from delivering to five areas with 140 restaurants to 24 areas with 1,300 restaurants. Indeed, industry analysts have called the online food delivery service’s growth “phenomenal”. Adding another feather to its cap, the company has also secured a food delivery partnership with the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016. Here’s Tristan Torres, General Manager of Deliveroo Singapore, on what it took to get there.

ESQ: What are your strategies against competitors like UberEATS and foodpanda?
TT: The main difference between any food delivery company and Deliveroo is how I see the business. For me, Singapore is a group of hyperlocal markets, meaning, if you live in Katong, your favourite restaurants are usually the ones in your vicinity. You’d typically be happy if you can order from these restaurants if you work in the CBD. For restaurants that are further afield, you’d likely be happier travelling to enjoy the dine-in experience. We don’t deliver further than the distance equivalent to 2.5km.

ESQ: Why not?
TT: We make sure the quality is optimal and follows the same standards as in the restaurant itself. We only work with top restaurants in Singapore like PS.Café, Chopsuey and Potato Head Folk. These are restaurants that do not traditionally deliver food. We have an amazing and transparent customer experience that allows a food order to be tracked in real-time. We also deliver fast, with an average time of below 30 minutes.

ESQ: You wanted to work for Deliveroo because you saw a lack of “a reliable food delivery business” in Singapore.
TT: I’ve been living in Singapore for three years, and I have three lovely kids. We usually order in on the weekend, and the average delivery time seven months ago was 60 to 80 minutes. In my opinion, this isn’t acceptable. There just wasn’t a reliable food delivery business. This is when I decided to start at Deliveroo: to make the lives of people easier and better. 

ESQ: When Deliveroo first started, what were the challenges?
TT: My main challenge was to convince restaurants to work with me. Many of those restaurants had a misconception about the delivery business. I made sure that I personally took care of the first delivery, by riding on bikes to the restaurant owners/directors to convince them. I have a hands-on approach with the restaurants and continue to do deliveries for our key new partners that we get on board. This is part of ensuring an on-going and fruitful long-term partnership.

ESQ: Deliveroo does not work with “low-quality takeaway restaurants”. How do you ascertain what is “low-quality”?
TT: My team consists of local-dining enthusiasts. I have dinner with customers each month and I’ll get their input on what they want to see on the site. Based on those criteria, we’ll input our knowledge, surveys and feedback from customers into a system to get those good quality restaurants.

ESQ: Does Deliveroo have an R&D department on transporting different varieties of food while keeping them hot?
TT: Packing and quality are key value propositions to our service standards worldwide and we have collated strong learnings over the past three years. We work closely with HQ [based in UK] and have weekly calls to discuss and share the best practices of packaging. We even have a booklet to educate restaurants about packaging that adheres with global standards. Similarly, we provide extensive training to our riders to ensure that the quality remains intact during the transportation (with insulated bags, cup holders, etc.). 

ESQ: Tell us about your partnership with the Michelin Guide Singapore.
TT: This is the first time a delivery company has partnered with the Michelin Guide. We will work with them on a number of initiatives that includes but will not be restricted to delivering food from Michelin-starred restaurants as well as their guidebooks. This partnership is a testament to our service standards as the Michelin Guide is very selective about their partnerships. 

ESQ: How will Deliveroo continue to maintain a foothold in the field?
TT: Seven years ago, when I was working in e-commerce, a 15-day delivery was the norm. As time has progressed, all e-commerce companies are doing same-day delivery. Yes, 30 minutes is amazing today, but maybe, in two years’ time, food can be delivered in 15 minutes. This is why we are strategically investing in centralised kitchens located in different parts of Singapore. It fills a gap in supply (the lack of good restaurants) where the demand for such restaurants is high. By the third-quarter of this year, we’ll have the first centralised kitchen up and running in the East Coast. This will allow us to deliver in 15 to 20 minutes. I’m super-excited about this project; in fact, I’m managing it personally. We’ll change the food delivery business in Singapore once more.

From: Esquire Singapore's The Big Food And Drinks Book.