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Shopping delivery startup Voly shutters warehouses, halves staffing, as startup winter descends

- June 23, 2022 2 MIN READ
Mark Heath, Thibault Henry
Voly co-founders Mark Heath and Thibault Henry Photo: Maria Cruz Photography
Rapid grocery delivery startup Voly has reportedly cut staff, abandoned its 15-minute delivery promise and closed warehouses, less than two months after the collapse of rival Send.

The Sydney-based online supermarket is less than 12 months old and last December raised  $18 million in a Seed round led by Sequoia Capital India, supported by Global Founders Capital and Australian-based Artesian Capital.

It launched into an already crowded crowded delivery market in July 2021 with the promise of having groceries at your door in 15 minutes or less, employs its own riders, delivery centre and store staff, servicing 42 Sydney suburbs.

Co-CEOs and cofounders Mark Heath and Thibault Henry believed they could carve out a niche in the kind of smaller local shops occupied by the likes of visit to the IGA, with speed on their side.

But like better-funded rival Milkrun, which banked $75 million from Tiger Global in January, Voly faces a looming economic downturn, rampant inflation and soaring fruit and vegetable prices, amid a downturn in capital investment for startups.

The SMH reports that Voly closed half its warehouses – in Crows Nest, Manly, Maroubra and Alexandria – and laid off half its office staff on Wednesday following a meeting with investors on Tuesday.

Delivery times have expanded to 20 minutes, and it appears a move into the Melbourne market has been put on ice.

Voly’s founders had previously told staff the company had enough runway to survive until February 2023.

Startup Daily has contacted Voly for comment, but has not received a response.

Last month, Send, a 10-minute grocery delivery app, was placed in voluntary administration less than 12 months after launch.

It had around 300 employees and 46,000 registered users, and operated in more than 50 inner city suburbs across Sydney and Melbourne. It launched in September last year after closing a $3.1 million round backed by Germany’s Cherry Ventures and New York’s FJ Labs.

The delivery sector is rife with competition, from supermarket giants Coles and Woolworth, which have long-standing, albeit slower services, alongside the likes of Ubereats, Doordash and Aircart.

The cuts at Voly follow news that Sydney fintech Brighte recently cut its workforce by around 15%, laying off more than 30 staff.

Earlier this month Melbourne-based creative marketplace Envato announced it would shed 100 jobs globally as it looked to realign its focus.
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