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The 15-Minute Ultrafast Delivery Craze Slams Into Reality

Consumers love to get their orders in a hurry, but the business model is under strain.
Racing to make a Fridge No More delivery in Brooklyn, N.Y., in March 2021.

Racing to make a Fridge No More delivery in Brooklyn, N.Y., in March 2021.

Photographer: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

One beneficiary of New York City’s recent boom in grocery delivery apps has been Giovanna Antoniazzi, a 27-year-old student at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Cashing in on promotions of $25 in credit and referring friends for $30 off an order, Antoniazzi and her roommates realized that they could drive their food costs close to zero. “I’m a broke grad student,” she says. “I’m not going to say no to free groceries.”

The companies offering these deals—and racing to deliver orders with improbable speed—found many customers as receptive as Antoniazzi. Fridge No More Inc., one Brooklyn-based startup she ordered from, generated a record $3.2 million in revenue in February and projected a 1,600% annual increase from the year before, according to an investor presentation from that month viewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.