Delivery startup Jokr plans huge NYC expansion

E-commerce company aims to have 100 micro-warehouses in four boroughs

Jokr founder Ralf Wenzel. (Getty)
Jokr founder Ralf Wenzel. (Getty)

A new delivery startup believes it can rival Amazon or Instacart when it comes to cheap, fast delivery — thanks, in part, to an ambitious plan to turn as many as 100 storefront locations in New York into micro-fulfillment centers.

Jokr, founded by German entrepreneur Ralf Wenzel, has a bold promise: that it can deliver goods to consumers within 15 minutes. Customers use an app to order items, which are then ferried from those storefronts. Along with groceries, Jokr intends to sells items you would typically find in convenience stores or pharmacies — things that people use all the time and sometimes need in an instant.

“In an age where retail rents are falling and warehouse rents are rising, there’s a new form of retail emerging that combines the two, but with a focus on speed, efficiency and maximum consumer experience,” said Morris Sabbagh of Kassin Sabbagh Realty, who is representing the company in its search for U.S. storefronts. So far, it’s already live in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Lima, Peru; and Mexico City. It will soon launch in Bogata, Colombia, along with other cities in the U.S. and Europe.

In New York, Kassin Sabbagh has already completed six deals for the startup, with another 15 leases out for signature. There are 20 more leases in the works, and the company also has New Jersey in its sights. Sabbagh would not elaborate on specific areas where the storefronts — which typically range from 2,500 square feet to 5,000 square feet — will be located, but said the company is looking “everywhere, every neighborhood.”

But rather than paying top dollar for prime avenue locations, Jokr is looking primarily at space on side streets. “They are not depending on foot traffic but on density,” Sabbagh said.

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Wenzel previously founded FoodPanda, which later merged with DeliveryHero, another online food delivery service. Jokr has funding from SoftBank Group International — where Wenzel was a managing director — along with HV Capital and Tiger Global.

Jokr says it will use technology, demographics and data to get deliveries done faster, turning over goods multiple times a day by knowing who will buy what and at what time of the day.

“I know what is selling in the morning and what is selling in the evening,” said Aspa Lekka, a co-founder and the startup’s COO, who is spearheading its real estate push. “We know where to put each item and how to place the aisles.”

Jokr says it will work directly with local suppliers. By cutting out the middleman, Lekka expects costs to be on par with supermarket prices, and there won’t be a minimum order size. So if you’re in the middle of baking a cake, for instance, and realize you’re out of butter, you can get that missing ingredient delivered while you keep on beating the eggs — and not miss a beat.

“We have the expertise, we have the funding, we have great people on board, we have the right timing and the right markets, and we are ready to make this happen,” Lekka said.