Marley Spoon Australia’s Founders on Tackling a Tried-and-Tested Business Model in a New Market


These local founders have given the somewhat saturated market some food for thought.

marley spoon

Promising sustainably sourced ‘market fresh seasonal produce’ delivered to your door; complete with recipes and instructions, Marley Spoon sounds more like a lovable life-partner than an online start-up.

According to Roy Morgan, a recent report indicated that less than half the Australian population actually enjoy grocery shopping (47.4%); and we all know the danger of shopping while hungry. And those are just the obstacles of getting the food through the front door – there are several more time-consuming steps before it hits your plate.

There’s no shortage of companies who noticed these struggles and have created a solution but despite the wealth of competition, recipe and meal box delivery service Spoon had one important edge when co-founders Rolf Weber and Dave Malcolm launched an Australian arm in June 2015: the fact that the model has succeeded in six countries before.

“A huge advantage is that Dave and I can tap into the huge amounts of knowledge that have come from six different countries all in a different stage of growth and market fit,” Rolf Weber, co-founder of the local Marley Spoon branch tells Collective Hub. “We have teams that work on problems that each country is facing.”

Although the Germany-based company itself is less than two years old, a series of successful expansions into the UK, the Netherlands, Austria and the US suggests that age is but a number. With Dave’s extensive experience in marketing and Rolf as one half of the founding duo of Australian online shopping platform, Brands Exclusive, the Australian roll out has some unique expertise in its founders. Though Rolf swore he’d “never do another business with large warehouses and big business every again”, he “loved” the concept of Marley Spoon too much to overlook it. And while knowledge is definitely power when it comes to rolling out a product in a new market, there are still a number of aspects of development that had to be exclusive to the local model.

“We have to make sure here we have our own culinary team that develops dishes that are Australian cuisine – our tastes and eating habits are very different,” explains Rolf.

And it’s not only the taste of food that’s proved a logistical challenge for the Australian counterpart. The sheer size of the continent has provided its own challenges to food freshness and delivery.

“When you send a dress, if it’s stuck in transit for a day, it doesn’t matter, doesn’t go off,” Rolf continues. “If food is stuck for a day, it’s a huge problem and we make sure we get these things right.”

And no matter how fast they’d like to grow, they’re taking it step by step.

“Especially because we work with food and potentially lethal items, we are way more vigilant to do the right thing. We are growing fast and well, but we are growing considered without being overwhelmed by crazy consumer demands,” Rolf explains of their ambitions for country-wide growth. “Before we expand in to new areas we make sure we have the scale and capability to actually serve these new customers well and safe.”

The company is largely driven my customer feedback data and motivated by their keen ambition to be the best in a growing industry. “We are a data driven company,” Dave explains. “Opinions are many: you like coriander or you hate it with a passion. What we are interested in is what our customers think about us, our recipes, and the experience. So we measure everything.”

Getting it right by manually collecting all feedback direct from customers can obviously be painful, but in the long-term, it makes the difference. “We are blunt and open with ourselves, and we want to really understand where we went wrong; so we can go back all the way to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Rolf.

Seeing clear trends in the online grocery shopping space, this pair of business entrepreneurs have so far successfully seized the opportunity to launch a uniquely marketed brand, with a fresh image, highly-targeted customer acquisition and a great dependence (and success rate) with referrals. “It starts with the recipe,” continues rolf. “Starts and ends with the food. Starts and ends with the ability to action your customer feedback. The closer we can get to our customers the better.”

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