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Q-commerce player DART to grow presence in underserved online grocery market

The two cofounders Tommy Campos (left) and Harm-Julian Schumacher in one of DART’s dark stores.

A Manila-based quick-commerce (Q-commerce) provider, DART plans to tap the underserved online grocery market to grow its presence in the country. 

With its 110 million people and an annual grocery spend of above $50 billion, the Philippines represents one of the most attractive markets in Southeast Asia. According to the e-conomy study by Google, Bain & Company and Temasek, the penetration level is only at 2 percent compared to 25 percent in the non-grocery space. 

Founded in early 2022 by Harm-Julian Schumacher and Tommy Campos, DART offers a wide assortment of goods, covering a range of popular snacks, drinks, fresh produce, dry and frozen goods as well as local partnership brands.  

To attract a critical mass of online shoppers, DART will bank on its 15-minute promise. “Delivering grocery goods to customers in 15 minutes represents a great opportunity,” says DART CEO Schumacher. “Our model allows gratification of instant needs and cravings while simultaneously saving time and money—with this, we are creating tremendous value for our customer.”

Currently, the start-up is now serving the cities of Makati and Mandaluyong. “We have tested many orders in the last months to better understand our customer, operations and fine-tuning our offering. We have seen that 99 percent of our orders are getting delivered within 15 minutes and are now confident to scale our business to more customers,” says Campos, DART’s COO.

Campos and Schumacher said DART plans to broaden its market coverage by expanding to other cities within the year.

In order to provide customers a wide array of products at affordable prices, DART entered into an investment partnership with Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc. (RRHI). “The partnership with Robinsons is providing an extreme value to our business—from the access to a large assortment, advantageous prices as well as leveraging Robinsons’ existing supply chain infrastructure.” 

The two co-founders running DART have a wide background in the Q-commerce and on-demand delivery industry, as well as venture-building across several continents. Schumacher was the deputy general manager for Germany of Gorillas, Europe’s largest Q-commerce player, and previously worked with Bain & Company, Rocket Internet and TruVenturo. Meanwhile, Campos worked with Uber and Postmates. 

With its huge potential in the online grocery market, DART was able to attract Robinsons Retail Holdings and Kaya Founders in the pre-seed funding stage. Moreover, an investment firm led by Paulo Campos (cofounder and chairman of Zalora Philippines) and Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng was DART’s earliest backer. The final round saw participation of business angels and advisors including Constantin Robertz (cofounder and CEO of Locad), Alexander Friedhoff, (founder and CEO of Etaily) and other senior executives from Gorillas, Zalora and Lazada.

“Q-commerce provides a unique opportunity to address the needs of consumers that are complementary to our traditional supermarket offering,” said Robina Gokongwei, president and CEO of RRHI. “We are excited to team up with DART and together push forward the digital transformation of the grocery industry.”

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