Gopuff buys time for its 30-minute-or-less delivery promise

“Once you can perform, and that’s hard of course, it wins in the long run,” he said.

Gopuff added that it put a public offering on the back burner because the stock market had been volatile and plenty of cash on hand. The layoffs were part of a global restructuring, it said.

Mr. Gola and Mr. Ilishayev met in 2011 as students at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In their sophomore year, they founded Gopuff for college students, offering quick late-night deliveries of junk food, condoms, and smoking paraphernalia. They called themselves a “one-stop puff shop”, which led to the name Gopuff. Deliveries were available until 4:20 a.m.

To differentiate themselves from DoorDash and Instacart, which connect customers to restaurants and grocery stores through their apps and rely on gig workers, Mr. Gola and Mr. Ilishayev decided that Gopuff would buy goods from distributors and wholesalers and have warehouses. The warehouse workers would be full-time employees, although the delivery drivers and bicycle couriers would be contractors.

Mr. Gola, who dropped out of college, and Mr. Ilishayev, who graduated from Drexel with a degree in legal studies, became co-chief executives of Gobrands, Gopuff’s parent company. To fund the business, they sold used office furniture on Craigslist and eBay. They also offered discounts on orders to attract customers and charged just $2.95 for delivery.

As Gopuff rose to prominence than Drexel students, Mr. Gola and Mr. Ilishayev expanded their product offerings and established warehouses in Boston, Washington and Austin, Texas. As of 2016, the company raised funds from venture capital firms such as Anthos Capital and later investors, including Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

“We saw it in the data: customers who come back multiple times a month, very strong customer loyalty, customers that would stay forever, basically,” said Jett Fein, a partner at Headline, a venture capital firm that invested in Gopuff.

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