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Show HN: Fresh-baked rustic sourdough bread, delivered within 20 minutes (getbreadbox.com)
199 points by getbreadbox on March 23, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 145 comments

I guess I'm just at a loss as to what is even remotely "hacker"-ish about this.

It's a bakery that delivers. That's great, I guess, but there's nothing particularly technical about it. They're not using tech in some unusual or interesting way to cut down on delivery costs, or make bread in a different way, or anything. It's just... a bakery, that delivers.

There's a Web form to order your bread through, but in 2014 that's not really any different than having a phone number to order your bread through used to be. (It looks like there's a mobile app to come, but if all it does is show you a menu and let you order it would fall roughly into the same category. Table stakes.)

I was talking with a relative of mine who's been in the grocery business for decades over the holidays last year, and we were joking around about how it wouldn't be long until someone started touting home milk delivery -- something that was commonplace before most homes had TV sets, or even radios, much less computers -- as a "tech startup." This isn't that, of course. But it's close.

Note that you've gone in the space of a couple of sentences from "I don't understand this," to "This is dumb." I recommend going with one or the other; mixing them is trouble.

The use of tech here is in the ordering, inventory management, and delivery. In particular, the instant gratification. Before the mobile web, this would have been expensive and difficult. You'd need paper catalogs, phone center operators, dispatchers, trained drivers, and a lot of stock-keeping magic. Plus some very smart supply chain management. Now you need some software and off-the-shelf smartphones and you can cheaply test a whole product idea.

Now they're apparently betting that the cost per delivery can be kept low enough that they can bring you fancy bread and baked goods at a decent margin. On it's own, I'd call it a mildly interesting proposition.

The question for me is what they're planning next. Amazon started as just books, Netflix as mail-order DVDs, Square as a weird dongle that plugged into your phone's audio jack. All began with something basic, something many people laughed at. But they were all playing bigger games.

I'm not sure where you got the "I don't understand this" and the "This is dumb" interpretations from. It's pretty clear that neither of those are expressed in that comment. There's one coherent idea that is expressed, and it could perhaps be summed up as, "This idea is not particularly innovative or special in any way."

This is really no different from ordering pizza. I mean, the ingredients even overlap to some extent, although most pizza vendors will also offer drinks, sandwiches, chicken, and other dishes these days. And basically every pizza vendor will deliver to your door.

Many of the larger pizza chains have at least some presence over very large areas, so you can get the same predictable meal even when in distance cities or towns. And these days, most of these chains offer various ways of ordering, from in person to over the phone to websites to mobile apps.

Sure, it takes some skill to get such an operation up and running, but the idea itself isn't new by any means. And there really isn't anything special about it. It's just a very, very slight twist (perhaps even just a simplification) of a well-established type of business.

This is what I got "I don't understand" from: "I guess I'm just at a loss as to what is even remotely 'hacker'-ish about this."

The overall tone of contempt is what I got "this is dumb" from.

If this is just a very, very slight twist on a business that has existed for decades you might ask yourself why it's only happening now. It could be that it's not workable. It could be that nobody ever thought of it. Or it could be that you're missing something, that you have also confused "I see nothing here" with "there is nothing here".

He clearly understands the concept. What isn't understandable is why it's here at HN, why it's within the top 10 front page submissions, and why some people claim to think this idea is innovative or special. It's really nothing more than pizza delivery.

I don't think he thinks it's a "dumb" idea, either. Clearly it's at least somewhat viable, given that pizza delivery is well and alive, with many establishments being around for many years, if not decades.

But that's really what it boils down to: this is just a very limited form of the well-established, long-running practice of pizza delivery. Pizza is, after all, just freshly-baked bread delivered to one's door, but with the benefit of various toppings.

It's really absurd to see you talking about "why it's only happening now" or that "nobody ever thought of it", especially when we've been ordering pizza and having it delivered to our door in well under an hour for many, many, many years now. This is an old idea, plain and simple.

Talking to someone in the baked goods manufacturing business might save a whole lot of pain.

Some markets aren't occupied for a reason and others just haven't been explored.

But if it's at all successful, they're gonna get slaughtered by incumbents unless they defend a niche or offer a more compelling "why we make bread" story. (Also the bread kind, not just the green.)

> What isn't understandable is why it's here at HN, why it's within the top 10 front page submissions

It's not your sole place to decide this. That's why there is a community here.

PS - I know how you feel, I've had the same reactions before and the best thing to do is flag it and move on.

Amusingly, they don't even do things other startups don't already cover. At the LAUNCH hackathon everyone had a free $25 from Postmates: http://postmates.com/

Where you can just order delivery from any store, bakeries included. The Postmates implementation is much better too, with an app where you can watch exactly on a map when someone takes you order (happened in seconds when I tried) and their progress as they go to the store and get you your stuff. Then there's even more general purpose apps like Exec.

Anyway, this is what you are told to do at Startup Weekend and the like. Perform customer validation and try your idea out any way possible even before you have an app, but the idea is just something we already have in spades in SF, like you said.

They're doing something that doesn't scale in order to learn more about their potential customers. It doesn't have to make sense as a long-term business in order for them to get good data out of it.

My hats off to folks that execute on something.

What's the end game? It seems like premeditated failure into murderously brutal markets where distribution is painful. If they're going to do it themselves they're going to learn quite quickly that it can only work in about a dozen metros. That's a 20 million a year business with margins that will be tiny....

Doesn't butter my bread.

I guess I'm just at a loss as to what is even remotely "hacker"-ish about this.

For one thing, they're going to be standing in a line of people at YC all asked the question "Will people actually use this?" The median answer sort of muddles through it. Their answer will be "We sold $800 of bread in an hour and nearly killed ourselves delivering it all. People actually do want this. Additionally, we have the intestinal fortitude to do things that the line of people you just interviewed did not."

There exist severely Fun Challenges (TM) with both the product and marketing side of this at scale, by the way. Delivering 100 orders of bread, once, requires a spreadsheet, a trello board, or even a piece of paper, and exactly one bakery on board. Delivering 10,000 loves a day is going to take some serious ops expertise. It will likely be hard learned.

They're applying for YC though, so they're validating an idea. Gotta appreciate that they're learning what it means to deliver bread on demand. If I lived in SF, I'd have them bring me a loaf of bread today.

Well, that's the problem I think the parent was getting at, but they did not quite get there. A barbershop or a bakery itself, in one city, isn't a startup. So even if they have success here, they've only validated that they are a business, not "in startup territory" (http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html) In other words, it validates an idea, but it validates the wrong idea.

For what it is worth, though, they do mention that their actual application idea will be different. So maybe they have a way to scale or do something with bread delivery that isn't already covered by the existing businesses.

"They're applying for YC though, so they're validating an idea."

I suspect it's more than that (and I say that positively). A slow news day. They stand a good chance of getting attention which is of benefit in terms of YC most likely. So at the very least anyone investing knows they have a clue about how to play the game.

To take this one step further they might want to try matzoh on Passover which is coming up shortly. NYC would be a good city to test if the delivery scaled.

This seems to cross the line between "startup" and "lemonade stand".

Before clicking, I wondered if this was going to be an artisanal fresh-backed parody made from locally-sourced ingredients.

The big money is in doing stuff that doesn't scale!!!

Soon, someone will print out your emails, stuff them in envelopes, and deliver them to you. USendly has arrived. You send a micropayment which generates a QR code that will go on the envelope which is sorted and handed to a courier with a smart phone with a GPS that directs the self-driving car to the recipients' location. The driver then drops the envelope in their USendly box that is affixed to their home or office.

USendly also just bought PulpScan. PulpScan scans paper documents and emails them to recipients. The synergies mean that USendly can now courier paper documents between people, but are disrupting the traditional email distribution process.

The new company USendlyPulpScan has a not-so-stealthy beta up at USPS.com

What stands out about this promotion is same-hour delivery. Implementing and scaling even same-day delivery is a serious logistical challenge. It's also quite possibly the future of retail.

I guess my standards for 'hacker'-ish are lower. I see a company potentially making an attempt to push the envelope, and that's enough for me.

edit : I was thinking in terms of general retail and not really food. Fair point : 1-hour food delivery is nothing new.

I do sincerely believe some of the counter points could have been made with less vitriol, but the fact remains that I was wrong.

When I was a little closer to Philadelphia, there were ~150 restaurants taking online orders from my address, and I never had a delivery take over an hour. If same-hour delivery of a small menu is the future of retail, then Wal-Mart must be deathly afraid of Dominos. They were guaranteeing fresh pizza in 30 minutes or less decades ago, nationwide.

Same-day? Mumbai's been doing it for over a century, without any modern technology. Over 5,000 dabbawalas deliver over 200,000 hot lunches per day, from the recipients' own home kitchens to their places of work, then return the food containers back home the same afternoon.

Pizza places have been delivering like this (made to order in fact) for decades

If they can marry technology to make this a very smart venture, I could see this being hackerish.

For example, there is this guy on youtube who made a machine to automate trying out different cookie recipes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YEdHjGMeho

Just because bread and bakeries have been around forever doesn't mean that there isn't room to apply technology to make it better.

If you can make a process whereby you can bake the bread on demand and have it freshly baked just for me, that would be amazing and totally hacker worthy. Fresh bread is amazing and being able to make and deliver extremely fresh bread on demand that is profitable would be awesome.

Given the number of "we deliver X" businesses trying to find a way to maintain a profit margin on deliveries, there's probably a reasonable business in a "travelling salesman as a service" product...

Seems like a hard to scale lifestyle brand because delivery and manufacturing are going to hurt (time and $). It's more of a fit for Shark Tank after they've tested that it can generate profit.

And if they ask for too much %, just quote 'pg "All we really wanted was your money." :)

Yeah. If they really wanted to impress me they'd use drones to deliver the bread through the skies.

Well, that might as well be the plan at this stage. We just don't know.

Come on man, don't diss people on launch. If you don't see any value in it, look away.

IIRC, it was made specifically for us and the startups in San Fran.

If the bread is good Its enough to be disruptive. The quality of bread in the US is very poor (if you have had the opportunity to eat at a local bakery in pretty much anywhere else in the world you know what I am talking about).

The general quality of nationally-distributed commercial bread in groceries is poor. It needs stabilizers and preservatives and has both an incredible shelf life and an incredible lack of taste.

However, many supermarkets have their own in-store bakeries, which range from slightly better than bad to very good; urban areas almost always have decent bakeries; and some of the best bakeries in the world are in the US. In the SF area finding a good loaf of a rustic-style sourdough is only slightly harder to do than finding a good cup of coffee.

Strange business, if that's what it's going to be. I've never had a sudden craving for a loaf of bread and wished I could order just that online. Not that I can't already; the local grocery store has a delivery service, and they bake their own bread every morning. I'm sure there's at least one bakery that delivers in the city, and there's a half dozen restaurants on GrubHub in my area that offer some kind of bread delivered.

It'd be a strange thing to pitch to investors too. I don't hear of much VC funding going to low-margin fresh food businesses. Bakeries generally don't make many billionaires; I think the entire Cinnabon company was sold for $30M some years ago. Perhaps they're going to pitch some kind of scheduling / routing / dispatch technology for delivery businesses?

Edit: Nope, missed the link to their real site. They want to be a bakery that delivers for free.

There's a high end bakery in the mission called Tartine where people queue up every day to buy $13 loaves of bread. I could never justify the expense but from the line outside I'd say there are definitely a lot of people in SF who can. You might have a hard time scaling this outside of really posh areas, but I'd bet that if you can make a profit delivering 5$ loaves in SF that you could do it for cheaper with the same margins in less wealthy areas. Good luck to the OP!

I'm skeptical there's any profit selling $5 loaves in SF. How many can one driver really deliver per hour, 3-4 trips? $20 per hour in gross revenue is barely enough to employ the driver and his fuel, let alone the bread, bakers, managers, facilities, taxes, health licenses, marketing, customer service, payment processing, etc. unless people tip very generously.

A decent loaf of mass produced bread here (Eugene, Or) is four bucks at Safeway.

I do wish them the best of luck. If it was available here I would order a loaf every day. Our household tears through a loaf of bread in a day and sourdough is my favorite.

Scooter with a basket front and back would raise delivery rate a fair bit, but I'd be surprised if it was by more than 1 or 2 loafs.

solution looking for a problem

Yup. Gotta find a problem and a solution and make money at it. Otherwise, it's not survivable.

"if you can make a profit delivering 5$ loaves"

Most delivery places require $10/min tickets. A 20 min delivery is a 40 min round-trip. @$9/hour for the delivery guy, that is $6 in costs. In other-words, -$1. This is before you've paid for the actual product.

That doesn't even get to the question of "cross-town" traffic in SF. Without some sort of multi-point distribution getting accross town in 20 min would be "interesting". Mission + SOMA of course NBD.

Of course the improbability drives the PR value. Somewhere between "too good to be true" and "will it break, in an interesting way?".

In Sweden there's a popular food delivery service that simply ties together restaurants and taxi drivers. This eliminates the need for round trips, since the taxi driver can just find some other fare for the return.

This works fine in Sweden which has a deregulated taxi market (=no shortage of available taxi drivers), but it wouldn't work in SF which has such an artificially constrained supply.

I like that. That's clever.

Any moderately busy pizzeria will queue up a few delivery orders that end up being ready at around the same time, and will have one driver deliver them all within a single trip.

The trip may take marginally longer than if just one order were being delivered, but it ends up fulfilling five or six orders with one trip. The cost per order ends up being decreased to a reasonable level.

You are right of course but there is also the possibility of loss leaders. And many times in business things don't make sense on the surface but play out differently. Perhaps they will have add on items that will generate more profit. Perhaps the amount of people who only order bread alone will be small.

If they get funding they have the staying power to test the market and potentially find profitability. That's the big big advantage of using "OPM" when starting a business. Not guaranteed but not a non starter either.

One big benefit of starting at a low price below costs (if you can) is that it keeps others out who think "we can't make money doing this".

While you may be right that there exists a price point at which posh people will pay for this type of delivery service, the example of Tartine is a poor one.

Tartine has been regarded as one of the best bakeries in SF for a number of years, having cultivated its reputation and following for over 10 years. It commands high prices not just because of quality, but also by its brand.

This is relevant not merely to pick apart your example, but more as a sort of chicken-and-egg challenge that faces many food service businesses. By default, bakeries are a low margin businesses, making it difficult to survive the long years you need to build the reputation that enables higher margins. The businesses that have circumvented this struggle have done so by such means as owner/chef fame.

With that said, I'm confident there are other ways of quickly achieving high-margin status. OP's company will have to be clever in doing so. It's unclear to me that delivery is a sufficient vehicle in this respect, except in bulk where ACME dominates.

"It'd be a strange thing to pitch to investors too."

I think there is something here actually.

For example it's a constant annoyance to me that when I get chinese food or sushi from the same places on a regular basis I actually have to make a phone call and talk to someone. At one place where they know me they actually make me give them my phone number which allows them to pull me up in their system. Just having to recite my phone number annoys me to no end.

I am sure there are obviously people who have solved the problem of using a smartphone or a simple web interface to help order pickup food (or delivery). But they haven't made any headway in the major city suburb where I am located.

For the life of me I don't understand why someone doesn't create a "bingo card creator" [1] type business to serve this market at a reasonable monthly fee. Most ideas on HN are "start by getting funded or incubated" as opposed to things that actually could be sold, proven, and then scaled. Write the app then knock on some doors and sell it (after giving it away to test restaurants for free).

[1] http://www.bingocardcreator.com/


Sometimes called on HN "lifestyle" business.

What area are you in? The simple solution to that is to get local restaurants to join an online ordering site like GrubHub -- I would be surprised if you're in a major suburb and none of the restaurants are already enrolled there or on a similar site. They're the "BCC" for online-enabling restaurants.

The thing that makes it so easy is that it operates on fax. It seems antiquated, but that means any restaurant with a phone line can offer all the modern conveniences without even having a computer on-site. Small business owners are super busy and constantly being pitched to buy services they don't have time to set up, but this takes no setup -- sign this contract giving us $x for any new orders we send your way, tell us your delivery radius, put a fax machine in your store, and you're now online. GrubHub can do the hard work of putting their menu online and running the website.

When a new order comes in, the restaurant gets a fax (and fax machines confirm receipt, so GrubHub knows it got there). You, as the customer, now get online ordering, re-ordering of previous orders with just a few clicks or taps, prepay with a credit card (or not), etc.


Amazingly the restaurant I am referring to is on grubhub.

So the questions is, why didn't I know that?

Back when we were selling (in the early 90's) advertising to restaurants and shops we provided them with window decals and things for placement at the register to alert customers. This isn't happening here. Also the other place isn't on grubhub. Nor have I seen others just checked a few.

Grubhub looks good. But I was thinking of something that would be an app specifically for the restaurant. Developer writes app for restaurant (using same one that has been developed for the test market) and customer downloads app. Or an html5 page I guess would work as well hosted by the "aas" provider.

Do you know what grubhub charges the restaurant?

Next time I'm picking up I'm going to ask the owner how it is working. (They have already given thumbs down to groupon and a few other things they tried).

I've been thinking about this for various weeks and thinking about implementing something like (no, not like, it is exactly what you described) this, but everybody I ask to comment on the idea tells me about Grubhub and similar services, and they just don't understand why there would be other kind of service.

The great thing about automatically building webapps for delivery restaurants is that this can work even if you have just 1 client, while Grubhub only works because they have lots of registered restaurants (and, as you said, it doesn't work, because the restaurant doesn't tell anybone it is on Grubhub, probably because of the fees or the inexistence of a unique readable URL to the restaurant's page on Grubhub, or because if the restaurant's client go to Grubhub he will see a lot of other restaurants besides the first).

FDRAaaS (Food Delivery Restaurant Apps as a Service), is the blog service, while Grubhub is Facebook.

"but everybody I ask to comment on the idea tells me about Grubhub and similar services, and they just don't understand why there would be other kind of service."

Who is everyone?

Is "everyone" the target customer?

Are is "everyone" startup people, programmers, hackers, VC's etc?

The fact that there are already sushi restaurants doesn't prevent new ones from opening everyday and doing business and making money.

"The great thing about automatically building webapps for delivery restaurants is that this can work"

Exactly. Not everything needs to be a home run.

"probably because of the fees"

Right. And this is especially a big problem with the mentality of the small business owner. Not wanting to cannibalize existing customers.

Building the app and charging a fixed monthly fee is the way to go at least to start. And make it easy for the restaurant to make menu changes etc. In the beginning you would have to perhaps input all the items yourself because the small business won't want to take the time. And have to prototype at no charge to prove it actually has benefit.

Let me know if you end up doing this.

"everyone" are people I know from various areas, including people who work with advertising, programming and general paperwork.

Found this about grubhub:



Pricing to me says that there is opportunity in this market. (Assumes article has correct info of course I haven't verified..)

""If a restaurant's not on Grubhub-Seamless, then their best option is to distribute paper menus around their neighborhood," Maloney says.

A lot of restaurant owners agree that is ineffective. Tom DeSimone owns the tiny RBBTS Café in Manhattan. He says the food delivery website connects his restaurant to law firms and banks. Big companies that use vouchers for websites like Seamless to reward their employees."

If this is a good reason for restaurants to stick to Grubhub and alike, then there's also an opportunity for marketing websites/communities for delivery restaurants. This must not be tied to a delivery/charging network like Grubhub.

It's a fair comment that a lot of take-out businesses are pretty behind the time technically. A pizza place I sometimes swing by on Horne way home from my office theoretically allows online orders. The first time I used it, I discovered 1. They add a surcharge to your bill and 2. They said they needed 30 minutes leeway (compared to about 10 minutes for calling it in). Oh, I noted their order PC was running Windows 2000.

I call in orders now--or just wait till I'm there; they're pretty fast.

A similar service called Delivered Dish uses the same fax conceit to provide delivery service in the Portland, OR; Denver; and San Diego areas: http://d-dish.com.

You can even order from bakeries (at least in the Portland area). I use them all the time for food delivery, and it's rare an order takes more than 45 minutes to complete.

When I lived in NYC in the '90's, I used to place the same order from the same pizza place often enough that the calls went like this:

Me: <dials number> Them: <Answers phone, sees caller ID> "The usual?" Me: "Yup, thanks" Them: <Delivers pizza in 20 minutes>

Seems like recently startups are finally starting to get to that level of knowing the customer...

Might be a kickstarter opportunity for a device that does the following:

Gets the caller id and when person who answers hits a button prints out an order form with the customers name.

Later version could actually store info about the customer in the device.

The point of this device is to have as little disruption to the existing work flow as possible. Just plug it in to the incoming phone line.

Probably could be prototyped using a small linux box where you get a local restaurant that you know ("you" means person who does this) to validate the idea. Small box isn't the final product or form factor only a way to see if the idea provides value.

Probably already exists. I know that there is contact management software that does similar tasks.

Perhaps that's the key: scan GitHub/SourceForge (is SF still around, anyway?) for an OSS base you can build this new app on. It has to exist already. The main challenge will then be selling it to restaurants.

This already exists in Toronto: http://just-eat.ca/

From what I understand, the restaurant doesn't even need an Internet connection. The service can send them the orders by fax.

Just Eat is very popular in the UK as well. http://just-eat.co.uk/

Your comment gave me a sudden craving for great sourdough bread. I ran out my door to the local bakery and literally got the last loaf of the day.

Yeah, it's closer to a necessity product but not usually an impulse buy (unless say if a woman were pregnant). This makes it less necessary to have it delivered within X minutes.

What a brilliant way to validate an idea. No online payment processing, no fancy dropdown modals asking me to make an account, just pay when you get the bread.

I hope it stays this simple.

I've ordered pizza from several chains that use exactly the same process for their online orders, and have done so this way for years now.

No account is mandatory, although such functionality is offered if you want to save your preferred pizza toppings, your address, and so forth for greater convenience during future orders.

You can prepay, if you want, or just pay the delivery driver once the pizzas have been delivered.

I'm not really sure what needs to be "validated" here. This approach has been successfully used by many other organizations offering the exact same type of service.

Hi everyone!

Thank you all so much for your interest in this!

The spike in interest from HN has been totally overwhelming, so while we are thrilled with the validation of this concept, we are running out of stock and falling behind on delivery schedule.

I'll be sure to reach out individually to everyone who submitted an order.

We can't wait to launch this service in a way that can handle demand spikes like this -- thank you all for yor support.

Edit: for reference, we've had orders for 150 loaves of bread in 2 hours.

So you achieved your goal right? Historically bakeries are very 'spikey' in their demand, a friend of mine runs one and they spend 3AM to 6AM making donuts and bagels which they sell out of between 6AM and 7:15AM, and then sell maybe a handful or two for the rest of the day.

Given the complexities of bread, it would interesting to hear a post mortem about ways you might both account for spikes without compromising delivery times, delivery scheduling to make maximum use of delivery resources, and even recipe variations to support those goals.

That's an interesting logistic problem I hadn't even thought of. I bake a lot of bread (today's was buttermilk chile cheddar) and it can be very uncooperative and unpredictable, unlike cakes and other pastry.

I understand that in a production environment they will be more process driven than my own kitchen, but I wonder what the timing variation is in the typical small commercial bakery. i.e., from start of mixing to fresh bread out the oven, how repeatable is the time to completion?

There is a donut place in Berkeley that works very similar to that. The reason for them is that there are a lot of large-scale orders that want the donuts for breakfast (e.g. the school dining facilities).

150 tiny orders is like cutting down a forest with a herring. Catering events is where the real cash is at. Large universities like Stanford operate like cities with 100s of autonomous departments free to choose whichever vendor/s they like.

I wouldn't consider this validation of the idea. It is just a bunch of people in SF that don't care about five bucks.

We eat a lot of bread in my house. I would love a few loafs delivered every other day for a reasonable rate like how they deliver my newspaper.

But what about the stuff you are putting onto your bread? Unless you also have a delivery service for groceries, you'd still have to go to the store.


> Beyond bread, we offer a rotating selection of coffees, cheeses, cured meats, oils and vinegars and more. Each is locally produced and carefully selected.

They sell bread. They got 150 orders in 2 hours. Their idea was validated.

It depends what net profit % was.

Businesses that lose money on every sale are not survivable.

They need to track all of their costs and see if it's going to be remotely profitable.

Actually in the modern business world, as long as you're growing, you're survivable. Cash influxes (loans, investment) can support a business for years - Amazon did it. You just need to convince investors that you have a story.

That's an anecdotal example. Amazon is different in that Bezos has enough room to dial back reinvestment and generate more cash or turn up reinvestment to reduce apparent profit.

Profit doesn't just magically appear, costs and pricing have to eventually face reality. Sooner, the better.

Spending more money does not necessarily make a business any better. That's like these noob business people that buy stock before they sell any of it... An example of a horrible waste of cash.

Without profit, it's not a business, it's an idea-guy dream.

No that's just an 'example'. Many startups fit this model. I'm in one that's in the 5th year, still growing, still with financial backing. Many are in this mode until bought out (or of course until they fail).

Was the idea really validated? Is their business model "get on the front page of HN daily"? If not, absolutely nothing was validated.

They didn't just get a lot of people to their page. They also got a large chunk of their visitors to pay them. The first part might not be sustainable - and it seems they weren't planning for it to be as this was a one time offer - but it definitely validated something, and also put them in touch with a lot of customers.

"so while we are thrilled with the validation of this concept"

When you say "validating the concept" what do you mean? That if you get a high amount of orders you can deliver?

Because obviously you can't depend on getting placement on HN or equivalent to drive business. And the cost of customer acquisition could kill your model assuming the price point stays the same.

Cool - was wondering why there was no text confirmation in over 30 mins, this explains it. Must not be an automated process.

Just picked it up (two people in a black Prius :)

They seemed swamped (they were 10 minutes late and were visibly frazzled) but upbeat. Bread was decent.

I suspect that if you go into pastries, you probably can command a higher margin (I really dislike keeping desserts in the apartment, and "dessert on demand" definitely would be appealing)

I could also get used to delivered deserts.

Esp delivered by quadcopter.

Does that mean I shouldn't press upvote?

That's very cool, but jeez is that really in line with the price of baked bread in San Francisco? This morning, 3,50€ bought me half a kilo of 5-cereals focaccia, two loaves of cereal breada and half a kilo of white bread. That's bread for a eight people lunch. That's probably one of the few things I'm gonna miss about Italy when I'll leave.

I suppose you're located in the south of Italy, as in the north (Milan for example) bread (standard, not multicereal or special ones) is around 4-5€ per kilo. NB I'm Italian now in Luxembourg and one of the thing I miss is the quality of bread (here it is generally not very good, too many "boulangerie" of the same brand, Fischer, with all the same bread / taste). And of course it is even more expensive...

Tuscany, small province town. Those prices in Milan are crazy, though!

It's not outrageous for a decent loaf of sourdough in SF. It seems like a really niche market though...doesn't really feel like a business to me. I don't think SF is short of places to get bread - there's a local bakery and a whole foods ten minutes walk away from me. Seems like a solution in search of a problem, really...

I think the 20 minute delivery is a big part of it.

If you live in a city or near a town center, you can probably walk to a decent bakery in five minutes.

You can also buy frozen or vacuum-packed half-baked bread from a supermarket, keep it around, and make some very nice fresh bread by sticking it in the oven for 20 minutes.

Yeah, but sometimes I'd pay $2 to someone to walk 5 minutes to get me a $3 loaf of bread.

I wonder where the bread is being baked. SF has some pretty strict laws around the quality/inspection/safety/licensing of kitchens (even home kitchens) used to create food for sale. My girlfriend wanted to sell lamb cakes during Easter season a few years ago (we saw an indication of demand and absolutely no supply from established bakeries) and while figuring out how to do it at minor scale (planning on 25-50 cakes) we became aware of these inspection limits. It seemed like it was going to be a lot of footwork to handle and was discouraging enough to not follow through on at the time.

Maybe they most likely won't run afoul or attract any legal attention for this test run for a single day. If it proves to be popular then it wouldn't make sense to do it out of someone's home kitchen, of course.

Thanks to the Cottage Food Act, as of 2013 it's super-easy if you're relatively low volume. It's a self-inspection (as in, "follow this checklist") and a cheap registration so they can track you down if you cause some kind of outbreak.

See: https://www.sfdph.org/dph/EH/Food/AB1616.as

In one place on the front page, it says delivery takes 18 minutes. In another place on the same page, it says 20 minutes.

Not that 2 minutes makes a difference, but the numbers should be consistent.

I like 18 minutes because it sounds precise.

Is it a mobile oven? The bread gets baked as you drive to the delivery point? :D

I'm disappointed with the comments here about this future YC applicant. Can't we think bigger than a food delivery app?

If you read the homepage, you'll see their tag line is "Fresh bread, snacks and coffee beans. Delivered in 18 minutes." Now, let's remove the baked goods accoutrement for a second and focus on the "delivered in 18 minutes or less". Isn't this the very real problem Amazon is trying to solve for themselves? Isn't there tremendous value to dynamic delivery logistics?

To be clear, I don't know these people, nor do I know if delivery logistics is their endgame. If they're bakers, then all the previous critique is warranted.

But if I lived in SF, I would sign up to see what they're up to.

>>I'm disappointed with the comments here about this future YC applicant. Can't we think bigger than a food delivery app?

Yeah, it was incredibly depressing to visit a really nice web page, become interested, and then read the top comment which basically dismisses the entire thing as "not hacker-ish" enough. Mind you, that comment is coming from a guy who blogs about mostly political topics...

I might be worth looking at where kozmo.com went wrong with a similar attempt during the dotcom boom.


What makes you assume something went wrong? It sounds like they were doing really well, but the bust hit them extremely hard, like it hit many others.

According to the S-1 for the IPO that never happened, they spent nearly as much on delivery as their total revenue. Seems like they weren't doing that well.


At the risk of being snarky, the bust hit a lot of companies that didn't have a viable business model very hard.

Snark off. There is a viable business model for deliveries given correct demographics, population density, etc.--and a willingness to pay for the incremental costs of the delivery. Works widely for some things (e.g. Pizza, Chinese food). Works as a niche for grocery delivery-usually in combination with a physical store presence of some sort. Delivery models work, usually as an adjunct to a physical store, but it's situational. Delivering individual video rentals like Kozmo did (among other things) is probably not one of those situations.

It's refreshing that instead of putting up a fake landing page and pretending to be an established product, they're just coming right out and telling us that this is an experiment. Very cool!

Bravo for doing things that don't scale. Good luck here & I hope this works out. Happy to help read through your YC app as well. ayo at hipmob.

Wouldn't it be a logistic nightmare when everybody wants their bread delivered at the exact same time (breakfast)?

In an ideal world, they'd adjust the price according to demand. But, realistically, no one's gonna shift their schedule to get cheaper online bread.

Then there will be complaints that surge pricing for bread is price gouging when people need bread the most.

That is so true. At some hours they'll have no clients at all and at others they'll need tons of people delivering the bread to get on time.

Oh boy. That's nice. Could you deliver to São Paulo, please? Pretty please :) But seriously, that's quite a great idea. If you can deliver in time, it would be supremely convenient. Reminds me of the milk bottles that used to be delivered by the milkman early in the morning.

And while you're on the way to Sao Paulo, mind stopping by in Tokyo? it's impossible to find decent bread here...

Sadly true. I'd have paid $20-30 for a real life loaf of bread that you couldn't roll into a golf-ball sized nugget between your palms.

So, a bakery that delivers? The tech industry sure is expanding its scope.

I clicked through to read about how they plan on running it long term. They will carry a very limited number of products, and every delivery person has all the products stocked in their van. They then route the nearest delivery person to you when you order, so it's kind of like a mobile coffee shop.

I don't know if it is possible to make it profitable, but it is definitely a service I would use. It is a pain keeping bread on hand because the good stuff only keeps for a day or two.

> It is a pain

...in French speaking regions.

Please let there be an API.

Home Sensors + ifttt + Bread Box would be a good alternative for morning alarms :-)

Or make it integrated with the navigation app on my cell phone. Based on traffic status, it'll schedule bread baking. After I park my car near my office, I can pick some freshly baked bread on my way.

Or integrate with a voting system that hooks with GitHub. The person who makes the most awesome PR of the day gets a basket of healthy bread delivered to her/his home next morning.

Given I'm now hungry as a bat out of hell, I guess you already nailed the website both in content and in pictures.

Now if only I wasn't based in Italy...

I can't imagine it's that much of a struggle to find good bread in Italy.

I rather deliver a great "give yourself upworthy's advantages for your content" and break my own sourdough...

But this is a startup that jumped the shark of meaning of startups. If they told me they had angel money, I'd be very concerned about investing in startups myself (if only I could)

which remind's me, I need to feed my sour starter today!

Finally. But i'd prefer to get every day a fresh loaf @7am, and then you can really save on delivery costs. And give me a $2-3/per smaller bread (cuz u don't go through it in a day) if I subscribe like yearly.

I'll give it a shot though.

I could see this being economical with quad copter (drone) delivery. But, home delivery from a car? Man, the gas expenses (among other car related expenses) would eat the profits to a bare minimum. Especially driving around SF.

Bicycles are your friend in the likes of SF :)

Which bakeries source your breads? The Mill? Tartine? Acme? Would love to know which before I buy! (though I might buy anyways because I think this is awesome). Awesome Webflow site that is simple and to the point.

Brake Bread in the Twin Cities area has something similar with its subscription service, delivered by bike.


Placed an order at 4:35 PST, still nothing? Safe to assume they got swamped?

EDIT: See the update now, seeing as how they had my phone, it would have been cool if they texted me.

Am I the only one who thinks this might not be about the bread?

YC has funded delivery-as-a-service before. If you were going for that, a stunt like this could be brilliant.

I love bread. I'd use this if I lived in SF.

Does SF not have Jimmy Johns? They'll stick some oats and sesame seeds on a roll if you ask nicely. They are freakishly fast.

Just got our delivery now, fantastic service. I hope the unit-economics work out, because I'd certainly use this, yc or not.

Oh man... I would love some fresh, warm bread right now. breadbox is going to set a trend with this stunt.

Seems like a good idea to me. I submitted my info but didn't hear back. Did anyone get a response?

I've been waiting about 10-15 minutes for a response myself; guess it's not automated?

I need this up in Lexington, KY. It's the San Francisco of Kentucky! ...Or something like that.

Do you guys know about SpoonRocket? It's only in the East Bay, but seems conceptually similar.

Add to subj: "only in SF"

I like the picture on the site, it's from one of my favorite wineries - Scribe

Do you tip? or just the $5?

Maybe the business they're validating is an HN-specific PR firm :)

by glancing the title this comes to my mind first: http://www.nick.com/shows/breadwinners/

it was only this morning that I was thinking, I wish someone could buy me breakfast from the nearby Au Bon Pain while I work on campus. This would work too. Great idea!

somewhat OT, but: if you have never tried baking bread at home (not even sourdough, beer yeast is ok) you should definitely try it, it's incredibly satisfying.

What the world needs now is on demand bread.

Is there anything similar in Paris already?

Anyone else not receiving the text message?

Same here, check my above comment.

Dat sexy bread tho..

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