Europe

Rocket Internet Buys Food-Delivery Startup Volo

German food-delivery startup Volo has been acquired by Rocket Internet, just days after the Samwer Brothers’ startup factory invested in one of Volo’s soon-to-be-direct competitors, according to TechCrunch.

Terms of the Volo deal weren’t disclosed. Volo is only six months old — it launched in Munich in October 2014 — but it has since expanded to Berlin and Frankfurt, with plans for Hamburg, Cologne, Dusseldorf and eventually another nine European countries, with Italy, Spain and Sweden at the top of that list.

Like a number of European startups, Volo allows customers to order food online from restaurants that don’t deliver it themselves. That makes it more personnel-heavy than the online companies that take orders and route them to restaurants to deliver, but it’s an increasingly popular business model — even U.S. delivery-platform giant GrubHub is experimenting with actual delivery.

The model has certainly worked for Volo — and for its backers at Telefonica’s startup accelerator Wayra. “Together with the founders of Volo, we have devised an exit strategy and are very proud to have implemented this so successfully,” Wayra Deutschland managing director Garan Goodman said in a prepared statement. “The team at Volo have made some fantastic achievements.”

The question now is where Rocket Internet plans to go with Volo. Rocket clearly likes food delivery startups a lot — it owns so many that it had to collect them into its Global Online Takeaway Group, which Rocket is still expanding. What’s not clear is where Volo fits in next to an investment like Belgian delivery startup Take Eat Easy, which was the target of a Rocket investment through a €6 million ($6.4 million) Series A round announced on Tuesday (April 14).

It’s not just that Take Eat Easy has a business model that’s essentially the twin of Volo’s. It’s also that the two companies have essentially the same expansion plans — in Take Eat Easy’s case, the U.K., Spain and Germany are at the top of the list.

It could be that the Samwers have a cunning plan for fitting the two competing services together — Take Eat Easy’s restaurants appear to be a bit more upscale than Volo’s, for example. Then again, they may just be spreading their bets. After all, Rocket also has stakes in direct competitors Foodpanda and Delivery Hero.

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