Christian Hardenberg is responsible for the technical infrastructure of Delivery Hero. As CTO, Christian helped to lead the way from being a food delivery service to becoming a relevant player in logistics. In our REWRITE TECH podcast, Christian explains the transformation of Delivery Hero and gives insights into his role as CTO in a fast-growing company.
Delivery Hero is one of the success stories the German start-up scene is really proud of. Strong growth, leader in many markets it operates in and now part of the DAX 30, which makes the company one of the most valuable companies listed in the German stock market.
Christian Hardenberg is one of the key strategists behind the company’s success. As CTO, he oversees the whole tech stack of the group, which operates several apps and websites in more than 40 markets including South Korea, Kuwait, and Argentina. In his four years at Delivery Hero, he led many migrations and oversaw the underlying framework, which is used by the services of the group.
In this episode of REWRITE TECH, you learn more about Christian Hardenberg’s role at Delivery Hero and how he manages the technical infrastructure of the company.
From food delivery to groceries and goods
When Delivery Hero was founded nine years ago, the concept behind it was rather simple. They started by connecting restaurants with hungry people and simply digitized the concept of food delivery. But this wasn’t enough, as Christian explains: “We decided to go deeper and to build a logistics company. Therefore, we started hiring riders and building all the underlying technology because we thought we could actually do it better and more efficiently than the restaurants themselves.”
This decision led the company into transformational times from being just a marketplace to becoming a logistics company. Since Delivery Hero has a large network of delivery staff (or riders as Delivery Hero calls them), they are able to deliver faster and more efficiently than local restaurants. A year ago, the company decided to go even further, as Christian remembers: “We started to think further about what else we could do with our riders’ and logistics’ network.”
Introducing quick commerce
In our conversation, Christian explains the new service to us: ”We opened up the platform for all kinds of goods that we want to deliver swiftly. We call this quick commerce.” The promise: Any product ordered with Delivery Hero is delivered in under 60 minutes, and some items are even delivered within 15 minutes or less. Delivery Hero partners with supermarkets and their app is directly connected to the supermarkets’ inventory.
But Delivery Hero also wants to operate autonomously. “The even more interesting step for us is to run our own small local supermarkets”, explains Christian. To achieve that, Delivery Hero has built 150 warehouses, so-called Dmarts, that are run by the company and are optimized for speedy pick, pack and delivery operations.
Growing big by mergers and acquisitions
The stunning growth of the company does not only come from those new business models. An important part of Delivery Hero’s growth strategy is to acquire new companies to increase their global footprint. And Christian has played an important role in that process as well by migrating the new businesses onto the existing platform.
The reasoning behind the migration is simple: “When we buy very small tech stacks, it doesn’t make sense to keep them as standalone.” Instead, the company relies on synergies to reduce costs and improve efficiency. However, for bigger acquisitions, other rules apply as Christian continues:
“For very large projects it’s often smarter to leave the platform as it is and rather provide really good services like logistics and advertising.”
Regardless of his technical role, Christian is sure that tech is not the key factor behind successful migrations, but rather the entrepreneurs: “We really value the founders of these companies. And we want to create an environment where they really feel that they can contribute and can keep ownership and autonomy.”
Who wins the delivery business?
With new business opportunities and further expansions of Delivery Hero’s portfolio, the next steps of the company will be exciting to watch. But Christian already proved in the past that he knows how to manage fast-growing companies. In his former job as CTO of Rocket Internet, he helped launch 50 companies and set the stage for many success stories.
Delivery Hero is already the market leader in many of the countries it operates in, but Christian doesn’t shy away from competition: ”I think it’s healthy to have that competition. In the markets where this is not the case, you get lazy and lose your edge.” And ultimately, as Christian states: “Whoever executes best should win.”
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