If success in life is reflected by the company that you keep, then the future is looking pretty rosy for Wolt. Located in the same office building as the globe-conquering Finnish duo of Supercell and Jolla, this fresh startup also has another ace up its sleeve: it’s run by former Slush CEO, Miki Kuusi.
The idea for the app is simple: using your phone to order and pay in advance for a coffee, drink or meal from your favourite establishment. At the other end, your order is received via tablet and you are informed when it will be ready – down to the minute.
All that remains is picking up your item. Simple as that. But it’s not just about takeaway. Sidestep long queues and order from your table, for example, and have your drink brought to you instead.
During his four-year tenure at Slush, Kuusi kept a close eye on the fluctuating trends surrounding him at the rapidly evolving startup event. From this unique vantage point he identified a seismic shift in the way people now do business.
“There are disruptions happening in different industries,” he states. “The biggest retailer in the world is the Alibaba group, and they own no stock themselves. The biggest hospitality service in the world is Airbnb, and they own no apartments. The biggest taxi company in the world is Uber and they own no cars.”
Similarly, when near field communication (NFC) payments arrived recently with much fanfare, it seemed that credit cards were facing redundancy. Kuusi, however, was less convinced.
“I figured I am going to do everything exactly the same as before, but instead of taking out my credit card [to pay], I take out my phone and tap it. That’s not a big change.”
But, as for the idea of shaking up the approach to payments – now, that was of some interest indeed.
Eat and run
Kuusi quickly joined the dots of opportunity. Retail is predominantly online. The future of buying food from brick-and-mortar stores is hurtling towards e-commerce. Everybody eats two-or-three times a day. Cue: pensive stroking of chin. It was time to take a truly digital approach to restaurants, bars and cafes.
Gathering a team together, a prototype was made that would illustrate their ambitions to interested parties. Using it also to draw valuable feedback from merchants and users, Wolt soon attracted 400 000 euros in angel funding.
Since then it’s been full steam ahead. Landing in the App Store in March, user feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. However, Kuusi is quick to point out that it’s not only the customer who benefits.
“It’s really simple to use and inexpensive for the restaurant. Every order that comes through Wolt is already paid for, so it saves a lot of time. If you receive bigger orders you don’t have to take the risk that someone is not going to show up or not be able to pay.”
With things off to a good start, Kuusi acknowledges that Wolt is still at a very early stage, only operating in Helsinki. The signs are already promising for a wider shift in dining behaviour in the near future, with negotiations continuing with significant European restaurant chains and 20 establishments ready for Wolt in Berlin.
Other signs are more immediate:
“It’s nice to see our users give feedback that they ‘Wolted’ a lunch,” Kuusi says with a smile.
Text: James O’Sullivan