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How does Duffl defend its market share against large competitors like DoorDash and Gopuff with sizeable customer acquisition budgets?

David Lin

Co-founder & CEO at Duffl

I can talk about speed as being defensible. Speed is twofold. To deliver quickly and consistently requires closer real estate, and there’s a very limited selection of those near colleges.

In the markets we're at, we have the best real estate position. Of course they can replicate that, but fundamentally, they have a different model. Especially DoorDash and Gopuff. I wouldn't say they're running the same operation as the micro fulfillment stores of these other quick commerce players. They’re leaning more on the cars, parking lots, warehouses, bigger real estate footprint, and 20- to 30-minute timeframes. That has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

For them to try to imitate us, it's fundamentally asking them to sacrifice an interconnected chain of systems that they've developed serving millions of customers with their distributed network of drivers, with their warehouse management infrastructure and software, to replicate what we're trying to do, which is a lot more decentralized and smaller. 

And that would take a considerable amount of resources, not so much financially, but in terms of focus. And when a big company like that tries to focus on catching a nimble startup, you know what happens. Like the David v Goliath story, it has happened before. And we know we're not the biggest player, and Facebook wasn't either in its early days. It's about exactly how much you can tap into that tribalism thing I mentioned earlier. 

We've had adverse reactions when we enter a market that has a local copycat. Imagine DoorDash or Gopuff or another corporate brand trying to enter a college campus where we’re loved. There's almost a knee jerk, just like an emotional reaction, to that, regardless of if it's faster or cheaper or if you'll pay me $100 to buy. I'll take your money, I'll buy your stuff, and I won't come back. That's what I've seen. 

And again, that's why I think advertising is definitely another cool revenue stream, but I think a powerful Act II is social. How do you make it more social? How do you make it more integrated with the community? How do you partner with the universities themselves? All those become defensible value props. 

And culture is a big defensibility as well. I think the quality of the racer employee experience fundamentally determines the quality of the customer experience. And I just know that's not as big of a focus with these other companies as it is for us.

Find this answer in David Lin, CEO of Duffl, on the economics of hyperlocal ultrafast delivery
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