Jinn

Former employees of on-demand delivery startup Jinn have spoken out about their experiences at the company.

Co-founded by Leon Herrera, Joseba Mendivil and Mario Navarro, Jinn created a smartphone app to allow users to place orders from local restaurants and shops, which are then delivered by a fleet of couriers. Once an order is placed, a courier is tasked with buying the item and delivering it to the customer within the hour.

Launched in April 2014 following a trial in Newcastle, Jinn went on to raise just shy of $20m across six investment rounds spread out over three years. At the same time, though, competitor Deliveroo attracted a staggering $474.59m from investors.

Just two weeks ago, reports surfaced that Jinn had made two rounds of redundancies, which saw the firm’s workforce reduced dramatically from highs of around 100. A recently departed staff member suggested that the workforce currently stood at five, but a statement issued by CEO and co-founder Navarro disputes this, claiming Jinn currently employs 20 people.

Navarro confirmed in a statement today that one of the members of staff that left the company was his co-founder Herrera. “To clarify, Leon doesn’t work for Jinn anymore, but he left on good terms and is still helping us,” he explained.

Alongside the redundancies, Jinn also recently ceased operations in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds in a bid to focus on the London market.

“Recently, the management, backed by its investors, decided to focus on profitability and sustainable growth. To get there, Jinn has paused operations in markets outside London, which represented 10% of the order volume, and has reduced the headcount,” Navarro said.

The co-founder described the departure of some of the firm’s employees as “the most painful part” of scaling back the company’s operations.

“Working alongside them has been a privilege and we can’t be thankful enough for all the effort and the commitment they’ve put into the company. We’ve been completely humbled by their understanding of the situation and their willingness to continue supporting Jinn in any way possible,” he said.

‘Mismanagement’

Some former employees we have spoken to are indeed understanding about the problems faced by the company, but others are very firmly pointing the finger at Jinn’s founders.

Numerous former employees have voiced allegations of mismanagement, unprofessionalism and even bullying within the firm.

“My experience at the company was not what I expected when I first joined,” a source told UKTN.

The founders, the source added, lacked experience, managed the company badly and did not have the skills necessary to effectively manage the capital raised.

“There was no disclosure or transparency, nor was there a clear understanding of what the company’s future outset would be. There was no culture whatsoever,” they claimed.

UKTN reached out to another source, who alleged the founders had made “some inappropriate hires”, and that the firm’s problems were also partly attributable to the fact that costs were poorly managed until the firm hired a finance team.

Another former employee alleged one manager within the company “was bullying and [emotionally] harassing several staff members”. This, the source adds, was reported to the CEO, who “failed to see the real problem and it only resulted in more bullying”. However, they insisted that, to their knowledge, bullying was not commonplace at Jinn.

We reached out to Jinn, but they declined to comment on this particular allegation.

‘A pity’

Not all of Jinn’s ex-employees have negative things to say about the company and its management, though. In fact, one told us they thought it was a “pity” the business was struggling.

“Jinn was a fantastic company to work at and I really enjoyed my time there,” they added.

This source disputed claims that the problems being experienced by the firm were down to mismanagement or the inexperience of the founding team.

“I think it has more to do with the investors than the founders. The problem is that Jinn is operating in a very competitive market. For Jinn to do well, it would need a lot more funding than it has.

“With more funding, and or better investor advice and support, I believe this company could have gone a lot further than it has. It’s easy to point the finger at the founders because they are all quite young, so saying ‘the founders were inexperienced and did not know what they were doing’ is the easiest thing to say.”

The source went on to say they felt the firm just needed more capital to extend their runway.

“If they were to achieve the vision … all they needed was time. The vision, the team and the ability to execute was already there and improving,” they added.

Despite this, Navarro remains positive about Jinn’s long-term potential. As of today, he said, the business “is profitable at an EBITDA level, with 30% contribution margins, and expecting to close the year with $22m in sales. The team is now more confident than ever in the true potential of the company and the opportunities that lie ahead”. He also claimed Jinn is currently being used by 1,000 monthly active couriers, 1,000 partners and more than 100,000 customers.

The CEO also highlighted recent developments at the firm: “The team has managed to automate the entire platform. They also continue to optimise the process and the assignation algorithms using proprietary technology to decrease delivery times, improve the customer experience and increase contribution margins.”