Unlike most founders, Adam Hasham’s entrepreneurship journey didn’t start with any particular idea. He didn’t have a vision for a product or service – but he did have a background in both computer engineering and finance, and a drive to simply create something of his own, whatever that might turn out to be.
Having recently relocated to Toronto from Singapore, he spent a few months reading, researching and talking to people, in effort to identify what kind of company he could create. It was 2013 and Amazon was cementing itself as a global eCommerce leader, shipping generic goods from distant warehouses to consumers’ front doors. Etsy was also doing big business, making it easy to purchase specialized goods from distant cities, states and countries.
Adam saw an opportunity.
“I thought, why don’t we try making a marketplace that would make it easy for people to access specialized local goods, but with a near-instant gratification experience from on-demand delivery?” he says. “So, I built Hurrier. An on-demand delivery platform.”
Hurrier launched in the summer of 2013, with a small team of bike couriers who delivered everything from takeout meals to lice combs to diapers to customers, who ordered using an online platform. The on-demand service industry in North America was heating up, Adam says, but there was next to no direct competition in Toronto at the time. It didn’t take long for the company to build brand recognition.
Not that growing Hurrier was without challenges. Maintaining what Adam calls a “three-sided marketplace” — customers, retailers and couriers — required plenty of finessing to keep everyone happy and engaged. And then there were the challenges that came with being a Canadian company.
“Being a Canadian company with Canadian data points, it’s really challenging to raise money from U.S. investors,” Adam explains. “What made it even more challenging was that our service was also localized. We were only operational in Toronto.”
The highly local nature of Hurrier made it difficult to attract investment, American or Canadian. Adam says many investors also balked at him being a sole founder. There was one exception: Marcus Daniels and HIGHLINE.vc.
“As a solo founder, you have no one to talk to or bounce ideas of off. Marcus was literally there every day — finding out what we were doing, making connections,” Adam says. “He was completely accessible … He was like a full-time advisor.”
Hurrier’s success in Toronto was enough to attract the interest of foodora, a Berlin-based online food delivery company owned by Rocket Internet.
The fit between Hurrier and Rocket Internet-powered foodora was a natural one: Hurrier had a growing network of users and a strong understanding of the Canadian market, while Rocket Internet and foodora brought resources and experience operating a delivery business at scale.
In September 2015, just over two years after launching, Hurrier was officially acquired by foodora.
“There’s always the question of do you build it or buy it,” David Albert, foodora’s managing director in Canada, told TechVibes at the time of the acquisition. “Hurrier really helped us to move faster in the Canadian space.”
Adam stayed on with foodora, living and working in Berlin until late 2016. Foodora itself was later acquired by Delivery Hero.
Adam has since accepted a job with Amazon in Seattle. Now working in product strategy for Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, he’s got only pride for how Hurrier’s story ended:
“I’m proud of even being able to get into the space.”