Gopuff’s 10,000-square-foot warehouse in downtown Philadelphia sits right at the intersection of hedonism and sloth. Lining the shelves are Seagram’s party packs, condoms, Plan B contraceptives, three flavors of Mountain Dew, Tums, Nicorette lozenges, and something called Panic Panties (“… for life on the go”). Inside a walk-in cooler, which co-Chief Executive Officer Rafael Ilishayev calls “our pride and joy,” there’s just about every kind of beer and hard seltzer imaginable. Pabst Blue Ribbon, cranberry White Claw, Tired Hands IPA: just the kind of indulgences college students once had to labor from their dorm room to retrieve and can now summon like magic to their doorsteps with Gopuff’s app, which promises to deliver in 30 minutes.
It’s also the kind of instant gratification business that for a brief moment in recent years seemed to have the potential to change e-commerce forever. “We’d build a plan and they’d [investors would] say you’re not spending enough,” Ilishayev says. “It’s easy to get caught up when you’re having a lot of things go right.”
Gopuff is part of a class of startups that soared during the pandemic, trying to solve a logistics and math puzzle that’s dogged Silicon Valley for decades: Can an e-commerce company whisk products to your house in under an hour? And more important: Can it actually make money doing so?Bloomberg