24 hours with Deliveroo Australia boss Levi Aron
Gunning it in the gig economy: how Deliveroo Australia boss Levi Aron sets the pace in a business that never sleeps.
Melburnian Levi Aron has spent the past two years establishing Deliveroo’s Australian arm. Founded in the UK in 2013, the food-delivery-by-bicycle business is one of a clutch of successful ventures that have collectively helped create the global gig economy. From a standing start in November 2015, Deliveroo down under now employs 80 in-office staff and has over 3500 restaurants on the platform, with new restaurants added each week. Every day thousands of riders don the company’s signature teal rider kit, strap eskies to their backs and log on to deliver meals to offices and homes across nine Australian cities. We spent one of those days with Deliveroo country boss, Levi Aron.
6.30am: While I don’t have an alarm clock, I do have a four-year-old daughter who runs into my room and jumps on my bed each day. Nothing beats waking up to an excited child ready to take on the world. We hang out for a while, select an outfit from her wardrobe, and I continue my four-year attempt of being her personal hairstylist. Once she’s settled with her breakfast I open my laptop. Our headquarters is in London and when I’m in the office late at night they’re just gearing up. My breakfast is quick but effective: water, toast and a banana.
8.30am: I live a 10-minute ride from our St Kilda office and that’s how I get there today. I love riding; it gives me time to think. I’m in my work clothes and not racing against the traffic, just taking in the air and gearing up for the day. When I get in, I do a quick clean up around the office and get settled. We’re in a co-working space, although with the growth we’ve experienced we now take up 70 per cent of the desks!
9am: Every Monday there’s an hour-long briefing with the team. People dial in from our three other Australian offices. Deliveroo is a global business in hyper-growth mode, and one of our biggest challenges is keeping everyone up to speed. We share updates from the other 11 countries, discuss what has and hasn’t worked the week before and reinforce strategies. It’s an open forum and anyone can ask questions.
10am: I sit down with our marketing department and go over their initiatives across three pillars – our restaurants, riders and customers. We often run concurrent campaigns in digital and out-of-home, plus events with influencers where we do things like pair wines with different foods. Then there’s an update with rider operations. We look at how many riders we had on the road last night and review our metrics (Did we deliver on time? What was the average order value?). Being a technology company, we have a lot of data. We want to make sure that, wherever we can, we’re leveraging that to continually improve the customer experience.
12.30pm: There’s a lot of hustle and bustle around lunchtime. Part of our job is to keep an eye on the food on the app, so people have their phones out, comparing orders. When we bring on new restaurants, we need to ensure their quality is high and their packaging fit for purpose. It’s also a great opportunity to chat with the many riders who deliver the food and make sure they’re having a great experience. After lunch, some of us here in Melbourne do a meditation session, run by one of the team. In a fast-growing start-up, everyone works hard and 15 minutes in a quiet room is a great way to reflect.
2pm: I head to Nobu. We spend a lot of time working with our restaurant partners, and I love going along to meetings with them whenever I can. We have so much information to share – what customers love, what travels well, menu optimisation, new marketing. These discussions help us continually grow together.
3pm: I get ready to report to the UK and work on developing our partnerships. We have some exclusive partnerships with restaurants, plus premium partners like Qantas, and community engagement with our ever-growing rider partners. In the early days, it was an uphill slog convincing restauranteurs to join the platform but these days many reach out to us. I also spend one on one time with our team leads. We hire a lot of young people; often it’s only their first or second job. This time is core to their development. I’m relentlessly passionate about this and, the more we’ve grown, the more I’ve realised how important it is.
6pm: I jump on the bike and go for a ride. Not for leisure – it’s time to do some deliveries! Our app is constantly updated and I like to see what’s new. I’m interested in how restaurants view riders – after all, these are the people interacting with customers and adding revenue to their business. I get kitted up like any other rider and don’t say who I am, at least at first. I chat to other riders too. We can look at all our data at the boardroom table but when you go on the road everything comes to life. I do four or five deliveries in an hour. That’s an hour of pedalling and running up and down stairs. I don’t get much time to go to the gym so it’s an opportunity to keep fit!
7pm: Our London team is now waking up and we start video conferences. Myself and the 11 other country managers spend hours going through the metrics each week so we can see what’s working – or not. Doing this regularly means we get fast global learnings – we immediately replicate some initiatives and pull back on others. I value this time greatly; it’s a hugely respectful team environment.
9pm: Because of the late hours we keep, our policy is that if you’re in the office after a certain time, food is on the house. I turn on the app and see what I fancy for dinner. I alternate between sushi, a gourmet burger or pasta. I might even sneak some wine into my order! I have more video calls to join and enjoy my dinner through those. There’s a lot of excitement around working for a start-up but it’s relentless and does push you to your limits, so you need to love what you do.
10.30pm: I’m pretty wired after those calls but riding home gives me a chance to unwind. I see Deliveroo riders on my way and wave as we pass. It’s amazing how the clock never stops – we’re an all-day, 365-days-a-year business. Back home I check in with my family and see what’s happening around the house. I read a couple of chapters of Elon Musk’s biography and reflect on what was good about the day.
1am: Bed time! Striving to achieve a work life balance is important to me – and something I need to get better at. Weekends are my chance to catch up and reconnect with friends and family and get back into some exercise before I start a new week.