Here at Sifted, we’re always looking for new ways to tell the startup sector’s most exciting stories — so we decided to pair Valentine’s Day, one of the world’s most hated holidays, with one of VC’s most beloved tech verticals: speedy grocery delivery.
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We wanted to know if it was possible to have a romantic dinner using only speedy grocery delivery products. Would quick delivery make Valentine’s Day more tolerable? I volunteered myself — and the boy I’ve been dating for just a month — to find out.
Ordering for Valentine’s Day dinner is tricky business — you need enough sugar and alcohol to put you in a coma-like love trance, but also enough sustenance that you don’t wake up at 2am with the spins. Also, ambience is key — we’re talking flowers, candles and the like.
For the sake of neutrality, I decided to split my order between three different delivery apps, chosen based on the number of times someone in a hi-vis jacket has thrust their flyers at me: Zapp, Gorillas and Getir.
First up is Zapp, one of Europe’s fastest-growing companies: founded in 2020, its team grew 1,003% over last year — probably mainly in the vest-wearing flyer-thruster department.
Zapp definitely had the best selection, with categories like “Dinner Date Essentials”, “Breakfast in Bed” and “The Gift Shop” for flowers, candles and Aesop soap (in case your date looks a bit filthy). Food on offer includes caviar, fancy pasta, steaks and nice-looking cheeses.
The “Valentine’s Emergency Kit” section also had things like cards, condoms, sex toys and… scissors? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that this was for gift wrapping and not in case you hated your date’s haircut to an emergency level.
“Then I get a phone call — Getir tell me the roses in the warehouse are all damaged”
Unfortunately the most exciting items — caviar and tiramisu — were unavailable. But that didn’t matter anyway because the damn app wouldn’t let me check out! I spent 20 minutes trying to input my details, and kept getting hit with a “The phone number has already been used” error notification. (Zapp later told me that the problem was due to an issue with my account being linked to an old email.)
Zapp’s VP of strategy Steve O’Hear, after hearing about my difficult encounter with the absent caviar, said: “We have seen unprecedented demand for our caviar delivery service, along with other Valentine’s specials, which have really resonated with Zapp customers. We’re restocking a number of items as far as we can, but are pleased to say that for the most part, even at the eleventh hour, our Valentine’s Gift Shop still has plenty of last-minute and luxurious gifts available for delivery within minutes, 24/7.”
At this point, things were starting to go downhill. My date and I were both hungry, and I was starting to see double. The grocery store is just downstairs… but no. I was going to use speedy delivery even if it killed me.
Next was Getir, which acquired competitor Weezy in November 2021, rendering half of my discount code flyers useless.
While Getir’s Valentine’s Day categories weren’t as clever, they made up for it with the booze and pasta offering. They even had bundles that let you pair things like wine, pasta and dessert for a discount. You could also buy an Airwick candle and Durex condom bundle for just £10.66. (What should this bundle be called? Candom? Condle?)
I place my order for lobster tortelloni, caramel truffles and 12 roses, and was told it will be with me in 12 minutes. Excellent.
Finally, Gorillas, the startup known for its breakneck ascent to unicorn status and alleged employee dissatisfaction. I open the app, and am met with this:
Ok! That’s fine, I can be flexible. I talk to my date, who so far has been sitting quietly on the couch while I curse at my phone.
I get another notification, it’s Getir:
Whatever, I have some stale Hobnobs in the cupboard anyway
Then I get a phone call — it’s Getir again. They tell me the roses in the warehouse are all damaged.
There goes the ambience, and my dignity; not only did I buy myself roses on a Valentine’s date I forced on someone, but now the roses won’t even be showing up.
I check back on Gorillas, and I can order again. In a blind hunger panic, I quickly place an order for prosecco, cheese and crackers.
For fast delivery startups, neither were really that fast. They both promise delivery “within minutes” — Getir took 38, and Gorillas took around 32. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but I could have run to the shops and back in a third of the time.
After reaching out for comment, a Gorillas representative replied: “At Gorillas, we promise to deliver high-quality groceries in minutes — of course, during peak times of day such as breakfast time and dinner time, this will be slightly longer compared to when our warehouses are less busy.”
The food did eventually arrive, and we set about cooking the lobster pasta. We undercooked it — which is a great tip for seafood — but it tasted delicious.
For dessert, we had cheese, crackers and truffles. I tried to take a picture of him feeding me a truffle, and it just looked like he was punching me in the face.
Now the fun part. ”I’m going to ask you a series of questions,” I say, as my famished guest chokes down his pasta.
Did you enjoy your meal? “Yes… the food was great.”
What was so great about it? “The pasta definitely carried it… It’s really nice quality, tastes real good. And I really like Pasta Evangelists anyway, so the fact that the fast delivery app does that makes it really good. The cheese — nice, kind of good. It’s the same stuff you can get from a supermarket.”
Do you feel it was good value? “I think, from looking at the actual price of the stuff, it’s good value, but it’s definitely not better value than going to a shop.”
Does fast grocery delivery make you feel romantic? “I feel like the setting of it is more romantic… And it’s a fun thing. I don’t necessarily think someone delivering the food was very romantic. I could have picked all this stuff up from the shop when I was on my way here.”
Which packaging felt more romantic to you? “Probably the Gorillas one because it’s in a paper bag, and Getir’s seems plastic.”
You can reuse it though. “Yeah, but would you?”
No. “Yeah, exactly. I don’t want to walk around with that bag. I don’t find the branding sexy.”
Final question: play ‘snog marry kill’ with Gorillas, Getir and Zapp. “I’d actually snog Zapp because it doesn’t seem to give a shit if it works or not. A little crazy, a little fun. Gorillas I’d marry because yeah. And I’d kill Getir because I don’t get its name — is it meant to be like slang? Get here? Get it? That sounds a bit seedy.”
They brought us the pasta though. “Yeah. Well, they still lose.”
Ok, questions are done. “Good questions.”
All in all, it was a nice evening. The food, and especially the pasta, was good.
The ambience didn’t really show up because of supply problems, and the delivery wasn’t all that quick — but that meant more time to chat. So maybe a speedy Valentine’s Day isn’t really the answer to making Valentine’s Day better.
You might be wondering how my date enjoyed the whole experience. I didn’t ask, but free food and an evening with yours truly? I think the answer’s obvious. 😘
We have reached out to all three companies for comment about their Valentine’s offerings.