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Bite Squad

Technology = better food delivery

Food delivery can be both wonderful and disappointing. It's great to get your favorite restaurant dish delivered practically to your couch. But you're never quite sure when it will arrive, who will be delivering it, or if it will be hot or cold. These troubles are over because Bite Squad has hit town.

Founders Arash Allaei and Kian Salehi have figured out what can go array with delivery and are using technology and common sense to right the wrongs. Here's how it works:

1. Once your order is placed, it is transmitted electronically to the restaurant as soon as the next available driver is available (this ensures your food isn't ready before a driver can get there).

2. Each restaurant has a Samsung Galaxy tablet that rings and blinks when an order is placed by you through the Bite Squad website.

3. Bite Squad knows when the restaurant accepts the order and what they project the cook time to be.

4. The automated dispatch system automatically selects and assigns the order to the optimal driver (drivers have a smart phone application that also allows GPS tracking).

5. The system times the order so the driver arrives just as the food leaves the kitchen; food never sits around waiting.

6. Once the driver has the food, the order is marked as picked up and the customer can monitor the driver's position via live GPS tracking (you can even see a photo of the actual driver delivering your order).

7. The customer can monitor the entire process via live order tracker that updates the projected delivery time every 15 seconds (accounts for delays in traffic, restaurant cook times, etc.).

8. When the driver is close, you get an automated text message asking you to prepare to accept delivery.

Bite Squad has a seven mile delivery radius from each restaurant. Delivery fees and order minimums start at $3.99 and $15 (order minimums can be waived for a small fee) respectively and vary by your distance from the restaurant.

All drivers are uniformed employees; Bite Squad does not use independent drivers or couriers. Menu pricing is the same as the restaurants; there is no upcharge. There is no minimum gratuity. "We want to make this service economically friendly to our customers, and we expect to make money through volume," explains Kian. "Our goal is to provide outstanding customer service. The technology we use allows us to do this. Full menus are on our site and the customer can add in notes like requesting something extra crispy. We built the platform and can change things with ease. If we find we need to do something different to satisfy customers, we can. You can live chat with us within 30 seconds."

You can preorder in advance by inserting delivery date and time. Say you're having friends over the day you get back into town. Order your meal before you leave and it will be delivered just when you want it. "We're focusing on the experience for the customer. We're not the only business that delivers food. So how do we make it better? We've taken it to the next level, and we'll keep improving," says Kian. "Seattle is our second city and it's a different market than Minneapolis where we started in August of 2012. I moved here in January 2014 to learn about the city and traffic flow; we started operating on March 10. I continue to meet with restaurateurs and learn the city and neighborhoods."

Arash and Kian are both Persian; Arash was born in the US and Kian in Iran. They met at the University of Minnesota. Arash went into computer sciences and Kian investment banking. They disconnected for about five years, then their paths crossed again by chance. They talked about their work and decided to do something together. Arash had the technical side of things down, but needed help with the front of the house. Pre-Amazon, they were doing things like and "We had top rankings before Amazon came in," recalls Kian. "We went from zero to eight figures. In 2010, a friend mentioned Groupon and we created Crowd Cut based on that concept. We went from zero to eight figures on that, too, in only 10 months. We sold it because we knew it wouldn't last forever-there were too many people doing deals. We wanted to create something sustainable with long term growth that could go nationwide. I'd worked with restaurant start-ups. We started trying delivery services and found them lacking."

They don't take outside financing. "We're invested. We like the hands-on approach. We've built this company to hold onto, not sell. We have a team in Seattle-sales, internal operations. And I'll be here as long as it takes."

With their high-tech and customer focus, Bite Squad should take Seattle's home delivery market by storm. Try them out: first time customers get a discount. From then on, it's full price. Because it's worth it.

Restaurants interested in talking with Kian should call him at 612-676-1111.

Connie Adams/April 2014

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