Aussie entrepreneur takes on Uber Eats and Deliveroo with commission-free food delivery platform

Kneaded founding patron Keira Czarnota with Ben Frazer, owner of participating restaurant Haus of Frazer. Source: supplied.

Kneaded: the alternative Aussie-owned food-delivery platform taking on the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo with an offering designed to provide a fairer service to small businesses.

Backed by the Australian Good Food Guide, Kneaded does not charge commission per order. Rather, restaurants pay a monthly flat fee of $99 to be featured on the platform.

After that, vendors receive 100% of all profits from orders, and can choose whether to make the deliveries themselves or make use of a partnership with taxi company 13Cabs for delivery.

An integration with Google through the WowApps tech platform also helps businesses be more discoverable online, and allow customers to order online easily.

The platform is the brainchild of entrepreneur Keira Czarnota, who admits to knowing what it’s like to head up a company that fails.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he became acutely aware of the struggles faced by the owners of hospitality businesses, and how tragic the consequences can be.

A restaurateur in Czarnota’s local community died by suicide shortly after his business collapsed during the pandemic, he tells SmartCompany.

That brought into stark clarity just how serious business challenges can be.

Most hospitality businesses are not your big-name, gourmet restaurants, he notes. Most are very small businesses, often family businesses, in suburban areas.

“Hospitality has amongst the highest failure rates and the lowest profit margins of any industry,” he says.

Most rely on in-house dining, he adds. So, during COVID-19 when that was not an option, many turned to the global food-delivery giants, seeing them as a route to “low-hanging fruits”.

However, at a time when money was tight, the fees involved became unworkable.

At the same time, the relationship between the customer and the venue is lost, Czarnota notes, which is something that can have a long-term impact on the success of the business.

It also means much of the money spent by Australian consumers with Australian small businesses ends up going offshore to huge multinationals, he adds.

“It’s just diabolical … these people are our neighbours. They need support.”

Kneaded provides a local solution

Kneaded’s platform taps into a shifting sentiment among the Australian public. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to people thinking a little more carefully about where they spend their money, and there’s more willingness to support local businesses.

“The timing and sentiment has never been better,” Czarnota notes.

“Everyone is talking about buying local.”

In the early days of the pandemic, DoorDash bowed to pressure and cut its fees in half, while Deliveroo conceded to a 5% commission, if restaurants make their own deliveries. UberEats eventually reduced its fees from 35% to 30%.

Incidentally, 13cabs also launched its own 13THINGS courier service, offering food deliveries with 0% commission fees for the restaurants.

Additionally, UK player Foodhub, which also charges a monthly subscription fee rather than commission, entered the Australian scene in February through the acquisition of Eat Appy.

For its part, Kneaded has become an approved provider under the Victorian government’s Small Business Digital Adaptation program, a $20 million scheme offering rebates for tech to adapt to online sales.

Czarnota says the idea is to make it as easy as possible for restaurants to make the switch away from the global giants, and onto a fairer local platform. That will make it easier for consumers to make the switch, too.

“We put significantly more into the venues that desperately need every cent they can get.”

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