Home Founder's Stories Shuttle carves out niche in Korea’s food delivery industry

Shuttle carves out niche in Korea’s food delivery industry

Industry: Food & Drink
Service: Online food ordering
Founded: March 2016 in Seoul, Korea
Founders: Jason Boutte, CEO; Lauren HyunKyun, Director; Florian Wermelinger, CTO; Zachary Marble, COO; Mark Boesch, CMO; Ben Hough, CFO
Number of Employees: 20+
Company Overview
Shuttle is the leading bilingual food delivery app (English & Korean) partnered with Korea’s best restaurants.
Tel: 02-1661-8482

How It All Started

Jason Boutte, CEO & Co-Founder of Shuttle

With over 100,000 downloads, Shuttle has secured its niche in Korea’s saturated food delivery industry. 

In a tough and discerning Korean market, where even UberEats has tried and failed, Shuttle’s launch and longevity is no trivial feat. 

It just goes to show that a cookie-cutter model won’t fly in Korea if it doesn’t fit their needs.

Jason Boutte understands these needs:  they were originally his problems he wanted to solve when he first moved to Korea.

Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Jason moved to Seoul in 2007. 

Having completed his MBA and a degree in finance, his work in New Orleans left him uninspired. He left his career in internal auditing to pursue his childhood dream of living in Asia, to him a place as far to the unknown he could get. 

“I’m curious in nature. And it’s exciting to explore the uncomfortable.”

Jason’s first business venture in Korea was in the entertainment industry. He opened up a nightclub called Cakeshop, which is still popular today for its internationally renowned DJs. The success of Cakeshop made it possible for him to branch out to open up other clubs, mainly in the expat-friendly area of Seoul’s Itaewon district.

It was at this time, during the late-night after work hours, that his problem started. He was hungry and found limited delivery options. Jja-jang myun, Korea’s beloved black bean sauce noodles, wasn’t a bad option but he wanted more. 

His solution was to create Ynot-Takeout (now merged as Shuttle) to find the favorite foods of expats delivered right to your door. 

He gained restaurant contacts, bought a motorcycle, and delivered tasty eats to people who had his same problem.

His team and delivery demand grew, and the momentum hasn’t stopped since.

Challenges Overcome

Team Shuttle

“Any business accomplishes more with collaboration.”

Now, with six founding members, they’ve tackled the nuances to make Shuttle an ideal language solution delivery app.

They had to balance delivery drivers with demand, and have now instilled a combined outsourced and company-formed driver delivery system. 

Their team also secured the right balance in their fees to draw back loyal customers and to bring on new hand-picked local eateries.

With increasing demand for Shuttle delivery, their tech had to step up. All revenue gained was invested back into developing technology, which now includes data analysis to better serve customers and predictive analytics to save delivery time when matching drivers. 

By listening to the needs of its customers, and applying it to a series of iterations, Shuttle feels confident in their market fit. 

Looking Ahead

Shuttle is now aiming for hyper growth.

With only 2% of their revenue spent on marketing, Shuttle’s demand has been attributed to its organic growth based on establishing their product-market fit. 

“Many companies take a different approach and try to find funding first, and then use those funds to find a market fit. Obviously, there’s a lot of risks in that.”

Shuttle, though, has approached it from the other side to first learn operations and build the right product and service that fits their Korean expat market needs. 

Shuttle is now ready to scale up by attracting funding, which they plan to invest in fine-tuned technology and large-scale marketing to expand into the Korean market. 

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