iFood is the largest food delivery service in Brazil
One of Brazil’s best-funded startups, iFood is making a multimillion-dollar investment in artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance its offerings.
The Sao Paulo-based food delivery company will plough $20m into a new AI “academy”, which will be focusing on research in machine learning, deep learning, behavioral science and logistics efficiency.
To lead the area as chief data scientist, the company has poached Sandor Caetano from another local unicorn, Nubank, where he led the data science function. The iFood AI lab is expected to employ 100 people by year end and will include expertise based outside Sao Paulo at innovation center Onovolab.
With a market share of 86 percent, iFood claims to be 17 times bigger than the second largest food delivery company operating in Brazil, Uber Eats. The company recently reported having achieved 17,4 million monthly orders, up 130 percent year-on-year.
The company was already using AI and related technologies such as machine learning (ML) to drive growth. The idea is to use the new dedicated function to drive further growth and also share best practices with universities to accelerate the development of local research around ML and deep learning.
In addition, iFood plans to enhance the intelligence aimed at supporting decision making that it provides to restaurants that use the service. The dashboard provides business owners with data on trends that can be useful when planning where to set up shop, such as popular types of food according to particular times of the day and place.
The investment in the new AI center is part of the $400m that iFood had committed to growth for 2019 and is part of the $500m round announced last year, then the largest amount of capital ever raised by a startup in Latin America.
Updated on April 10, 2019 at 7:11AM EST to include information about AI-focused staff at Onovolab.