Community//

Chris Siragusa: “Help people understand that modern technology”

I’ve started it — it’s called MaxDelivery. We’re on a mission to help people understand that modern technology, coupled with excellent customer service, can help you recapture time and balance by freeing you from the noise of the chores of everyday life. I don’t see our competitors doing this as well — they shift the […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

I’ve started it — it’s called MaxDelivery. We’re on a mission to help people understand that modern technology, coupled with excellent customer service, can help you recapture time and balance by freeing you from the noise of the chores of everyday life. I don’t see our competitors doing this as well — they shift the stress and mental load to a different part of the shopping process, leaving you to wonder when you are going to get your products, or if the order will look anything like what you asked for. We’re doing this differently, to truly eliminate those concerns, and I’m looking forward to helping more people recognize the possibilities as we expand.


As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Siragusa.

Chris Siragusa is a born and bred New Yorker who grew up on Staten Island. After graduating from the prestigious Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, Chris attended Cornell University where he studied computer science. After graduation, Chris moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts to work for a consulting firm, where he advised and worked with various Fortune 500 companies and their technical teams. He was then approached by the founder of Kozmo.com, an online delivery company that promised free one-hour delivery of DVDs, music, magazines, food and books, to join the founding team as Chief Technology Officer. During his first two years with Kozmo.com, Chris built the company’s annual revenues from $200K to $55 Million and expanded its services to 11 cities with over 2,000 employees. After the dot com crash in the late nineties, Chris moved on from Kozmo.com to work for a software company, where he often found himself thinking about how he could have adjusted Kozmo.com’s business model to be more effective and successful. Eventually, Chris put together a financial model and business plan, gathered some friends to back him and started MaxDelivery in 2005 — a grocery delivery service that promises one-hour delivery, has its own inventory in a centralized warehouse, and partners with some of New York’s most iconic brands such as Pat LaFrieda, Raffetto’s Pasta, and more. Over the last 15 years, Chris has grown MaxDelivery from the bottom up, including hiring a team of full-time employees both in the warehouse and on the corporate team, sustaining reliable customer service and sourcing the best products, fresh produce, and much more. Currently serving Manhattan, MaxDelivery plans to expand to Brooklyn in the coming months, followed by the West Coast in the near future.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Iwas working long hours at a startup, Kozmo.com, when I got married and began my family. Like so many others out there, I faced the time crunch between doing what needed to be done and spending my time the way I wanted to — with my family, and not in the aisles of the grocery store. But with a constant need for diapers, baby food, wipes and more, we were always planning a trip for something.

The delivery services that were available were not particularly timely in getting the goods to us, and the order often arrived with items and brands that were stand-ins — substitutes for the ones we had originally ordered. Like many new parents, we had found the products that worked for us and our kids, and were brand loyalty — whether through preference, health requirements or whatever. So, it was frustrating to wait days and then not even get the right product. Kozmo offered free one-hour delivery of impulse and convenience items — music, DVDs, snacks — giving me the experience to understand how this business could work, and my life experiences helped me understand how this idea could be bigger and serve a real customer need.

I’ve always enjoyed building things, whether from the startup stage, or through heavy growth, and have felt the entrepreneurial ownership of my work even when working outside the startup world.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

Launching MaxDelivery after experiences in the early dotcom era, I wanted to grow responsibly. I believed in the business, but investors were less sure of my growth vision, so we took a self-funded path, which has made prioritization essential and kept us grounded as we looked to the future of the company, but meant we couldn’t chase every great idea right away, due to lack of funds. Like any startup, we were hands-on operationally, especially at the early days, which led to challenges prioritizing customer focus and feature development over dealing with the everyday “fire drills.” It was a learning process to see customer needs ahead of time and develop to them, to shift from reactive to proactive.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

A key factor in our success is the care we have taken to build out our internal culture, and the relationship with our employees. We made it a priority early on to ensure employees made a living wage, received proper training and, above all, were treated fairly. As we grow, this continues to be a priority for us — our business model differs materially from competitors in that we are staffed by full employees, not independent contractors — and we feel that makes a difference in the dedication, training, and commitment our employees have to delivering the standard of service we promise. We have an excellent retention rate, with employees who have been with us since the beginning, some of who started as delivery personnel and have risen to management level. We’re proud of putting the employees first, recognizing talent and providing opportunity to grow.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

I hire employees who I know will be better at their job than I am, trust them to deliver, and empower them to achieve their goals. We make an effort to recognize and celebrate the small wins that make a difference, the building blocks of success, and to recognize and reward good ideas and smart risks — even when they result in more lessons and redirection. I subscribe to the vision that you hire good people and get out of their way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Building something from nothing is impossible to do without the support of friends, family and good collaborators. There are so many people who have contributed to the success of MaxDelivery today, I couldn’t isolate just one.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

Right now, we are focused on expanding the success of MaxDelivery, both in geographic footprint and offerings, to continue to build into the best service to bring customers the groceries and household goods they need, quickly, accurately and reliably. We want to continue to make their lives easier. Personally, I want to continue to do this while maintaining the balance I have achieved with my family and hobbies.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I look forward to seeing MaxDelivery grow to become a regular part of our customers’ lives, to watch them realize that they can trust us to deliver on their everyday needs so they can free their time to better spend on more valuable emotional experiences than the mundane chores of necessity.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

I’ve started it — it’s called MaxDelivery. We’re on a mission to help people understand that modern technology, coupled with excellent customer service, can help you recapture time and balance by freeing you from the noise of the chores of everyday life. I don’t see our competitors doing this as well — they shift the stress and mental load to a different part of the shopping process, leaving you to wonder when you are going to get your products, or if the order will look anything like what you asked for. We’re doing this differently, to truly eliminate those concerns, and I’m looking forward to helping more people recognize the possibilities as we expand.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook — @maxdeliverycom

Instagram — @maxdelivery_

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Big Ideas: “Using AI, Blockchain and cloud computing to securely send Hollywood screenplays” with Chris and Gregory Parker

by Christina D. Warner, MBA
Community//

“Together We’re Better Because of The Diversity of Thought” Lessons Learned With Chris Rawley

by Chris Quiocho
Wisdom//

(The Life Advice Guide), Insights For Young Adults From Stars of Business and Beyond.

by Justin Higgins

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.