Meal deliveries in Vietnamese cities typically take less than half an hour, but grocery deliveries lag, sometimes for up to two to three hours, says Rino founder Trung Thanh Nguyen. By creating a vertically integrated logistics infrastructure around ‘dark stores’ or stores that are only equipped for order fulfillment, Nguyen says Rino can reduce the delivery time of groceries to just 10 minutes. Launching this month in Ho Chi Minh City, the startup announced today that it has raised a $3 million pre-seed round from Global Founders Capital (GFC), Sequoia Capital India, Venturra Discovery and Saison Capital.
After a larger public launch in March 2022, Rino (which stands for ‘now’) plans to expand rapidly, first in the most populous areas of Ho Chi Minh City and then in Hanoi.
Before starting Rino, Nguyen was part of the founding team and chief operating officer of Baemin Vietnam, one of the largest food delivery apps in the country. Before that, he was the head of GrabBike and GrabExpress at Grab Vietnam.
When asked why he wanted to focus on grocery delivery after Baemin, Nguyen told Referus that the rapid adoption of food delivery in Vietnam “created a clear roadmap for the grocery segment.”
“Four years ago, food delivery in Vietnam was slow. Meals took up to an hour to reach customers, which meant people had to get used to pre-planning meals,” he said. “When the platforms cut it to less than 30 minutes, consumer behavior changed quickly and the industry had entirely the chance to grow more than 10 times in a very short time.”
Nguyen thinks grocery delivery will follow at the same pace. Grocery delivery adoption increased last year during COVID-19 lockdowns in Vietnam and has become a regular part of consumer buying behaviour, he said. “Customers are ready, but existing delivery options, including chain stores or third-party platforms that deliver on behalf of retailers, are either too slow or unreliable.”
Rino plans to shorten that time by owning his inventory, purchasing directly from suppliers, and integrating his own dark stores into his logistics infrastructure. To make deliveries in such a short time, Nguyen said Rino will divide each of its cities into service zones with a radius of one to three kilometers. Each zone has a special dark shop owned and operated by Rino, with last-mile deliveries done in batches by his own fleet of riders.
In a prepared statement on the investment, Saison Capital partner Chris Sirise said: “The fast-paced trading landscape has benefited from permanent gains as consumers of all demographics continue to rely on e-commerce options even after COVID-19 lockdowns ease. we’ve seen from the founding team leading up to launch, reaffirms what we’ve seen from Trung throughout his time spearheading growth at Baemin Vietnam and Grab – high-level leaders who don’t just have the insights needed to lead the market, but also the local know-how needed to really respond to local needs.”