GrubHub and Seamless both began their journey in the same place: As tiny startups who thought there was a better way to order food from local restaurants.
These days they’ve merged to create a dominant market leader. From their humble beginnings with just two members each they now employ a combined 700 people, spokeswoman Abby Hunt told Opportunity Lives.
Grubhub celebrates its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in April 2014.
Founded in 1999 by two lawyers “fed up with out-of-date paper menus,” GrubHub was first to try and move the take-out industry online. The two web developers that started Seamless weren’t far behind.
The two companies battled with each other for years as they grew into the largest online take-out ordering services in the country. They each raised millions of dollars from venture capitalists, Seamless was even acquired by food giant Aramark for a time, and both acquired smaller competitors. Eventually they decided to merge.
Given the size of the new company, GrubHub Inc. the food ordering innovator isn’t a small business anymore. But Hunt says their roots as a small start-up have helped keep them in the small business mind frame. This is particularly important since Hunt says they coordinate with “30,000 small businesses across the country on a daily basis.”
In fact, “driving more orders to independent restaurants across the country” is what GrubHub Inc. is all about she says. That, and “making ordering takeout easier for diners.”
That task isn’t without its challenges, of course. Even after years of growth, apps across all the major platforms, and plenty of media attention, Hunt says many consumers and restaurant owners are still unaware of the alternative to paper menus and phone orders the company provides.
“One of our biggest challenges is bringing awareness of our services to those who have traditionally utilized the paper menu and phone to place takeout orders,” she says. “Today, approximately 95% of all takeout orders are placed via phone and paper menu.”
That isn’t slowing the company down though. Instead, Hunt says the company is focused on their core mission of simplifying take out ordering while helping grow small businesses all over the United States. Because of that, she says they “are confident that we are in the best position to move forward.”