‘City Grab’ has been a runaway success for City Taxis after it was embraced by shuttered food and drink companies seeking an outlet for goods, underemployed drivers needing work and residents keen to support the local economy.
Thousands have downloaded the app, which is a rival to international firms Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Customers pay the cost of the taxi fare on top of the food bill. City Taxis takes a cut from both.
But despite its success, development director Paul Gosney said licensing could prove more lucrative long term.
The firm has signed City Grab deals with 12 cab companies running thousands of cars in cities including Liverpool, Newcastle, Milton Keynes and Leeds.
Three more are about to go live: Peterborough, Leicester and Loughborough. And City hopes to win contracts in Sydney and Melbourne after pitching to firms in Australia.
Mr Gosney said he was ‘humbled’ by how the app had kept local companies going during the pandemic and allowed drivers unable to carry passengers for health reasons to keep working.
He added: “I’m Sheffield born and bred. To see that many people engage and support the local economy is very humbling. We’ve helped some firms stay open and we’ve gone head-to-head with international companies like Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
“I used to have a dialogue with Will Shu, founder of Deliveroo, he doesn’t talk to me now.
“A lot of work goes into the app, especially setting it up in a new city and it’s all done remotely. It’s been difficult, but in some ways lockdown has been a boon.”
City launched the app in December after spending £250,000 on technology. Since lockdown it has helped companies including Ranmoor Friery which was about to close, Mr Gosney said.
Other sign ups include Oisoi restaurat and supermarket in New Era Square, vegetarian and vegan food start-up Icarus and Apollo in Kelham Island and Lynne’s Pantry of Surrey Street in the city centre.
Well known Sheffield firms involved include Ashoka, Roses the Bakers, Tamper, Street Food Chef, PJ Taste, and Nonnas.
Pig farmer Steven Thompson of Moss Valley Fine Meats said City Grab had been a ‘godsend’.
He added: “It just went mad. At the beginning, when people weren't going out at all, they were using it marvellously. It's dying off now but it got us out of a big hole because it used up all the stock we'd got. The next week we were making hams again. They cleared us out. We just had a row of taxis outside at one point.”
Mr Gosney said they had raised almost £60,000 by donating delivery fees over six weekends to NHS Local Frontliners, Weston Park, St Lukes, Hallam FM Cash for Kids, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Ashgate Hospice and The Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Deliveroo and Uber Eats have faced questions over tax and employee rights.