How we would build an app like DoorDash

Imagine 2020 without DoorDash or UberEATS or Postmates. No food delivery service. How are you going to get your Chili’s fix while in lockdown? For many, delivery services and Amazon made living in quarantine bearable. Delivery apps have never been more popular, so let’s look at what makes DoorDash so successful in a sea of competitors.

Article by
Becky Chase
Article date
April 11, 2020

Why managing AI risk presents new challenges

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The difficult of using AI to improve risk management

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How to bring AI into managing risk

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Pros and cons of using AI to manage risks

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Benefits and opportunities for risk managers applying AI

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This blog will assist aspiring business owners in the business development side of starting their own technology driven venture. We’ll answer the web’s top questions regarding DoorDash and app development.

Before we can dive into the specifics of developing a complex app like DoorDash; we have to understand the industry, the motivation, what makes the app successful, what the competitors have to offer, and the journey DoorDash has gone through.

#1. DoorDash: Food Delivery Industry

The delivery industry has seen massive changes and improvements over the past couple of years. 60% of Americans order take-out or delivery once a week. [Upserve] The rise of Amazon and its host of delivery services brought with it technological change across a multitude of industries. Retail, Technology, Food, Grocery, etc. all saw an increase in the desire for convenience. The recent pandemic only pushed the need for these ’convenience’ services further.

In 2021, DoorDash topped the charts with the number of app downloads in the “Food and Drinks” category (in the US), shortly followed by UberEATS. The global food delivery market has more than tripled since 2017. This growing industry isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, it is estimated the global market will surge from $24 billion to over $120 billion by 2025.

DoorDash was founded in 2013, and by 2018 had overtaken UberEATS as the second highest food delivery sales in the US. And become number one in early 2019, beating out GrubHub. Later in 2019, DoorDash opened its first “Ghost Kitchen” A Ghost Kitchen is a food preparation establishment set up solely for delivery meals, adding to its versatility and showcasing Doordash’s innovative features. DoorDash recently acquired Bbot, a startup that makes order and pay software for restaurants. Adding these services to its suite of products allows DoorDash to expand into technology and hardware solutions for the restaurant and hospitality industry. [FastCompany]

By 2020 it was the fastest growing food delivery service and acquired over 20 million active monthly users. Their efforts to aid with pandemic relief, endeavors to create delivery focused facilities, and their expansion into new markets such as restaurants and point of sale software solutions have additionally catapulted their business.

Some of the biggest trends experts [Bringg] expect to see in 2022 and beyond are:

  • In-house Delivery
  • Online Grocery Delivery
  • Food Delivery Subscription
  • Curbside and Take-Away/Mobile-Ordering
  • How to Start Your Own Food Delivery Company

    Research, Research, Reasearch.

    Conduct as much field research and competitor analysis as humanly possible. The more data you have, the better off your new app will be. It is crucial, especially when entering an existing field or industry with well-established competitors, to know all the statistics and patterns already available before embarking on your journey. Typically, we see that clients set out trying to solve a pain point they came across while utilizing the industry. Stay true to your pain point, don’t lose sight of what you set out to do. Don’t let data muddle your intentions.

    #2. DoorDash: The App Journey

    While the rise of DoorDash is well documented, there are a few pitfalls the company fell into that can be avoided. The first of several lawsuits filed against the company pertained to tips and wages. Prior to 2020, a majority of the tip’s drivers were supposed to earn went to the DoorDash to cover the minimum guaranteed wage.

    In early 2020 the top food delivery services, DoorDash, UberEATS, Postmates and GrubHub were involved in a lawsuit for their policy regarding restaurant listings. At the time all four of the major apps only listed restaurants who had signed a contract with a clause that required the prices to be consistent for both app and dine-in customers. Essentially the restaurants argued that they were losing profits if they kept both the dine-in and delivery app prices the same. Therefore, they would be forced to raise the prices for everyone to cover the ‘subscription fee’ and other various fees the apps required to be listed. The ruling required all the apps to remove these clauses, allowing restaurants to set the menu prices.

    Ensure you follow proper procedures in your applications to avoid lawsuits, poor customer, and poor restaurant retention. To increase retention and procurement, create a thorough feature list. Listing a few unique features will help pull customers away from existing apps and give your app an edge.


    It’s incredibly important to develop your feature list before you start consulting with a development company. The scope of the first version of your app will greatly affect the timeline and price given to you. Start with the simple things. DoorDash didn’t launch with all these features available. Through several iterations, additional features were added and tweaked. Narrow down your list to the bare necessities.

  • Login/Registration
  • Push Notifications
  • Reward Programs
  • Search and Filters
  • Favorites
  • Mobile Pay
  • Menus
  • Order Tracking
  • Customer Support
  • Pick-up option
  • Favorite Addresses
  • Order History
  • Restaurant Reviews
  • The Restaurants
  • Our advice for developing a feature list for and existing industry would be to start a conversation with the restaurants to be added in your beta, ask what features they’d like to see, what features are missing from the top delivery apps, if they have any feedback.

  • Provider Login and Registration
  • Type of Food
  • Tags
  • Editing Menus
  • Flexible Pricing
  • Delivery Fee
  • Hours
  • The Drivers
  • On top of the both the customer and restaurant portals, there will also be a driver portal. UberEATS has a separate driver app. The driver app is applicable to any driving ‘position’ under the Uber umbrella i.e., Uber, UberEATS, Uber Freight, etcetera.

  • Login/Registration
  • Requirements
  • Job Tracking
  • Map Integration
  • Order Update
  • In-app communication
  • Ratings
  • Profits
  • Most of the food delivery services use a similar model. In our How We Would Build an App Like Uber blog we discussed the Uber business model. The two are very similar. DoorDash has an additional source of revenue, the restaurants. While both saw a massive increase in revenue and use in 2020, neither company has yet to be ‘profitable’. This is an important fact to keep in mind when researching and starting your own delivery service business.

    DoorDash has two points of revenue. From the Customers and from the restaurants. From the customers, they receive the delivery fee and possibly subscription fees. From the establishments they charge a partner commission, per-order-fees from non-partner establishments, and potential catering services fees. There are several plans available to establishments with varying benefits and prices.

    #3. Everything You Need to Know About Building an App

    When developing your mobile application, the first questions you need to ask yourself are related to your business. Obviously before developing your application, ask yourself if an app is really what your business needs or if a progressive web app would be better.

  • What problem is your app or company trying to solve?
  • What is unique about your company, why would people switch apps?
  • What else would your customers be willing to pay for, additional subscriptions?
  • What business models do your competitors use?
  • Before development begins, and even before designs are drafted up, our project director will sit down with your team to discuss your business, goals, and requirements. It is vital to the development team that we understand your business goals and drive. We can help you prioritize your features and develop in- depth technical requirements for your application. The first launch to beta testers is usually a minimally viable product (MVP). Simply to make sure there is a customer pool, and a fully fledge app of this nature is viable.

    A few of the guidelines we’ll cover are whether your application should be natively developed verses cross-platform developed. Typically, our team opts for cross-platform development due to the potential customer pool on both Android and iOS devices, as well as budgetary constraints, and timelines.

    Another aspect of app development that takes longer than anticipated by clients, is the design phase. The first step in designing an app, is researching competitive design trends. Once the design trends have been established, wireframes of important screens will be drafted. Once wireframes have been finalized and approved, several different design mocks will be created and showcased to the client. Once the client picks a design, several iterations will be created to accommodate for the feedback.

    But the journey doesn’t end there. The application needs to be developed. Our team utilizes the Agile methodology, working in 2-week sprints, hand in hand with quality assurance testers. App registration is required for both the app stores. If your app stores and requires payment information, protocol documentation will be required. The security of user’s card and identity need to be securely stored. A wealth of additional test cases will be required as well as proper security compliance. Lastly the app will need to be fully tested, allowing for test users (beta testers) to use and push the app to its limits. Another key factor to consider is the timing of your product launch. This can affect the success of your app. Do you launch during the Summer or the winter holidays?

    Additional ways to make money from your application in the beginning stage of your business, can bring in much needed support and revenue. Try out in-app advertisements, in-app purchases, and subscriptions.

    Overlooking the marketing aspect of your app is a sure-fire way to lose valuable feedback and customers. The most effective marketing strategy for mobile apps is video. Video marketing has helped businesses garner new customers, strengthen their brand identity, and increase profit. (Brand awareness up by 70%, Traffic up by 51%, and Sales up by 34%.) [Renderforest]

    #4. How to Build the DoorDash App

    What Platform is DoorDash Built on

    DoorDash was written in Kotlin. Kotlin is a backend language best for Android specific concise code.

    When the app first launched it was built on Python 2 and Django. Currently no longer receiving security support. For more information on how the DoorDash team migrated to Kotlin and why it was chosen over other major languages, check out the DoorDash Engineering blog.

    Our team would build the app using React Native. Since React Native is a cross-platform development framework, our team could easily develop both an iOS and Android app with relative ease. React Native provides a sleek, smooth and fast user interface, perfect for a mobile app.

    How Long Does it Take to Develop an App Like DoorDash

    Based on all the available features for the DoorDash App and the Dasher app, as well as the restaurant features, we’d estimate a year. Depending on the depth of features and functionality, as well as compliance (if applicable), the timeline of your app may or may not be extended or shortened.

    How Much Does it Cost to Develop an App

    For a specific estimate contact us. It’s hard to judge what the price of your mobile app will be without a concrete feature list and wireframes. Our best guess, for a full suite of an Android and iOS app and the full list of features we previously mentioned would cost anywhere from $150k to $250k.

    #5. The Benefit of Having a Mobile App Development Company in Your Corner

    We at Nexrage not only want to help companies, but also business owners discover their app dreams. To guarantee that you are satisfied with the finished product, we will work closely with you to make sure that your vision remains clearly represented during every phase, including product design, development, and testing. If you have an idea or product that you need to be developed, contact us today.

    By outsourcing your development to a partner development firm, you save on employer costs, technological costs, and have the benefit of flexible payment plans. Your dedicated project manager will keep you up to date on progress, pitfalls, and suggestions the team may have while working on your application. Additional benefits include

  • Faster Signoffs and approvals
  • Established Workflow and dynamics
  • Industry Knowledge
  • #6. Final Thoughts

    DoorDash set out with a mission to bring a variety of foods to everyone’s doorsteps. At the time of it’s launch the only food groups there were delivered or offered take-away were pizza places and Chinese takeout. Now, 9 years later, every type of food, as well as grocery, and convenience stores is readily available to almost everyone.

    While you’re focused on the business side, we’ll have your back with software development. Nexrage Studios prides itself on efficient, precise, transparency and clean coding. Contact us today to get your project started!

    Be sure to tweet us your thoughts @Nexrage 👋

    Check out our blog on How We Would Build an App Like Starbucks.