Where did the idea for Yolk come from?
At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was either cooking or getting takeaway. Before we started Yolk, I would often be very disappointed with my takeaway orders. Like many customers, I had gone to the restaurants before and enjoyed the impeccable ambience, quality, music and service. The restaurants set very high expectations. But then when ordering home delivery, it wasn’t to the same standard. The food was cold, or there was spillage, or it took a very long time to arrive and the quality wasn’t there.
When you’re spending more than £80 (which is the average Yolk bill) on a dish, you deserve quality. So, I started studying to find solutions to do better and we found a German technology company that had what looked like a solution. We met them and started to customise their product to our needs, which are exclusive to us in the delivery industry. What we have developed is a silicone heater, which is plugged into the battery of the motorbike. We set it at around 57 to 60 degrees and it stays constant until turned off. It means that over a 20-minute journey the food we deliver will fall, on average, zero to two degrees depending on the outside temperature. The average for other delivery companies is between 15 and 30 degrees. We keep testing the technology to make sure we are consistent and our customers are getting their food nice and hot, as it was when it left the restaurant.
Yolk has also partnered with a technology company that allows customers and us in the office and the chef at the restaurant to track the live temperature of each compartment in our boxes – both the hot and cold compartment – while it’s on the way. We can control the temperature from the office to make sure it’s consistent and track the order from the point it leaves the restaurant to when it arrives with the customer.
What else makes Yolk different from other delivery companies?
Yolk focuses on the high end of the restaurant world and, of course, London is one of the best cities in the world to eat. We provide people with delivery from the best restaurants in London, that otherwise they wouldn’t be able to access.
We also work exclusively with our drivers and we don’t work in a gig economy way like other delivery companies. The first reason is, we don’t appreciate the way many gig economy workers are treated, so we prefer to have a more stable salary and working conditions for our drivers. This gives us a better relationship with them and it sets us apart as a luxury company. We set many non-negotiable standards of how drivers present themselves to customers and the restaurants. We have also asked drivers to take off helmets when arriving at a customer’s house and arriving at a restaurant, to give a more personal and reassuring service. Of course, we ask them to be careful with the food – to be consistent and quick with the order but never in a way that might sacrifice the quality. First comes the quality and then comes the speed.
What is your delivery range?
It is five miles from Berkeley Square, which is two times further than our competitors. It means we can reach the City, St John’s Wood, parts of Hampstead, Chelsea and many other areas that our competitors won’t reach as they only cover two miles. It is amazing for everyone – for us because we can reach new audiences, amazing for the restaurants as they will have more orders, and great for our clients because they have never had an opportunity to get delivery from these restaurants before now.
Can you give us a brief introduction to the restaurants you’re working with?
At the moment Yolk works with about 30 restaurants and hopefully we will close the year with about 50. We work with many of London’s best restaurants, including Park Chinois, Sumosan Twiga, Aquavit, Crazy Pizza, Benihana, Benares, STK London and Bombay Brasserie among others. We are lucky to have an amazing team who have opened doors to meet with these restaurants – and that’s been the hard part. Once they meet us, they are very happy and excited to work with a company that cares about the food. We know chefs treat their food as a work of art and we feel the same way.
You are completing your final year of school this year, how do you fit your work with Yolk around your studies?
I am able to do this because of the amazing people that we have on the Yolk team. Without them, it would be impossible. Of course, it’s very demanding to combine study and work and I’ve tried many things to timetable it all, but it doesn’t work like that – the demands on my time change from hour to hour. So far it’s all going well, however, and I’m managing both.
You became an entrepreneur at quite a young age, do you have a role model and someone who has inspired you?
Yes, of course – my father is my biggest role model and influence, he’s an amazing entrepreneur. He started very small and his business is in the pharmaceutical industry in Brazil. He has taught me the most, especially that you have to work hard and persevere with everything you desire. I speak to him every day – I give him a daily report for about 40 minutes and it’s amazing because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.
Can you tell us about Yolk’s partnership with food charity The Felix Project?
We were introduced to The Felix Project by Yolk’s marketing agency and I really like what they do. They are all to do with food and feeding people in London and so are we, so I felt that it was the perfect partnership for us. The Felix Project collects surplus fresh food and uses it to feed the hungry and most vulnerable. I think every company should support a charity and in fact we’re looking to support more good causes. Every time someone places an order with us, they’re able to feed from three to six people depending on the size of the order. It’s a real pleasure to be working with The Felix Project and supporting their work.
Would you agree that people’s attitudes towards eating out and delivery have changed over the past year and a half?
Yes. There was a study by DoorDash, the American food delivery company, that found 80 per cent of their clients would continue to order the same amount of food or more than they did during the pandemic. One of the reasons for this is because a few years ago 70 per cent of all deliveries was pizza, but since then the market has grown so much and it has become more of a habit for people Now people are eating takeaway for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are getting salads, vegan, Chinese, Scandinavian, Spanish, everything. And, of course, it’s good business for restaurants who are still making more from delivery than people eating in.
What’s next for you and Yolk?
For the next year, we want to have at least 100 restaurants and a much bigger client base. We would like to expand to other cities and countries too – I would like to go to Brazil as it’s my home country and delivery is big business. São Paulo has an incredible restaurant scene too. First, everything in London has to work well but we are really excited about the future.