- Ultrafast grocery delivery startup Buyk has hired James Walker of Nathan's Famous as CEO, per an emailed press release.
- Walker, previously senior vice president of restaurants for the fast food chain, is taking over the top role at Buyk from co-founder Slava Bocharov, who will continue to oversee strategic vision and fundraising efforts along with fellow co-founder Rodion Shiskov.
- The change in chief executive comes a little over two months after Buyk's debut in New York City — a metropolitan area teaming with instant-needs delivery competitors.
Buyk launched its 15-minute service in September and, with the new CEO hire, is gearing up to rapidly expand to other U.S. cities, per the announcement.
Walker brings more than 30 years of senior management experience in the hospitality and retail industries to Buyk. During his two years at Nathan's Famous, Walker oversaw the opening of 300 dark kitchens in the U.S. and abroad, the announcement noted. Before that, he was vice president for the U.S. and Canada at Subway, where he helped launch Subway North America’s Delivery program, which required teaming up with four major delivery service providers.
Walker has also worked as president of global operations, development and marketing at Johnny Rockets and as chief development officer at U.S. restaurant franchise Beef 'O' Brady's, according to his LinkedIn profile.
"We feel that his expertise and experience in scaling businesses and bringing them to new markets are a valuable asset, and totally align with our goal of making Buyk a household name, first in the US, and then globally," Bocharov said in a statement, noting that Walker shares the co-founders' vision on where the retail industry is headed.
With the chief executive change, Bocharov will focus on larger strategy visions for Buyk, while Walker will take on the responsibility for day-to-day operations, organizational development, new product development and partnerships. Buyk's founders previously co-created and ran Samokat in Russia, which became a massive instant grocery delivery company in that country.
So far, Buyk has raised $46 million, per the press release. It is trailing behind in funding from Jokr, which launched this spring and has raised a total of $170 million, and other competitors, but ahead of Fridge No More, which started in fall 2020 and has brought in almost $17 million, according to a recent Coresight Research report.
The Big Apple is also welcoming several competitors, like Gopuff, Gorillas and Getir, who have larger wallets and have been in the delivery business for longer — all three companies have raised $1 billion or more, to date, per Coresight.
Buyk didn't say in the announcement where it plans to expand to, but Bocharov recently told Grocery Dive the company plans to arrive in Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C., along with undisclosed locations in California and Florida, next year. While New York City has been the epicenter of ultrafast delivery, 15-minute or faster service is taking hold in other cities, like Chicago, which now has Getir and 1520.
Coresight estimates funding to date in the vertically integrated instant-needs segment is $5.9 billion, with Gopuff accounting for more than half of that amount ($3.4 billion).