Building an empire: Lesson from Foodpanda at Skyland Ventures

Foodpanda #SVFT

Photo courtesy of Skyland Venture Creative Team

After organising the successful startup event last month #SVFT (see blog post here) Skyland Ventures decided to host English speaking monthly meetups @HiveShibuya with successful entrepreneurs. The first event hosted Chinmay Malaviya who talked about his experience as a member of Rocket Internet and how he launched and managed Foodpanda in Singapore and Hong-Kong. Foodpanda was created in 2012 and is the Asian counterpart for food service delivery of Just Eat in the UK and GrubHub in the US. Chinamay built the company from scratch following the business model recipe of Rocket Internet. “I didn’t have any share in the company and Rocket could have got rid of me at any time […] Rocket empowers smart and ambitious people with funding.” In other words, had he not performed the way he did growing Foodpanda to become a giant in 40 different markets, he would have been thanked and replaced. That was a hard challenge but obviously he was the right man for the job! He was not scared to jump into the game when he was told “this is your show, make it happen” and started as director of operations before being appointed as managing director at only 23.

About Foodpanda’s global expansion, Chinmay underlines the importance of finding the right director in each market and the complexity of localisation. “We can translate the app into the target language but each market has its challenges’. These challenges may reside in local execution such as finding delivery staff or in cultural  differences. “In Korea, the app only shows food pictures”, the general Rocket business model will work IF it is adapted to local specificities. Singapore is a good market to test a product because it is very international and multicultural but the high growth markets include the Philippines and Indonesia. If Foodpanda finds an already successful major player in a particular market, they may decide to acquire it like they did in Russia. The startup is not considering China and the US as future markets as they have little value. This strategy may seem strange but the mobile penetration is booming in emerging markets with more transactions made on IOS in Pakistan than Singapore! Chinmay grew the Singaporean team to 20 and adopted casual hiring practices which focused more on building the right kind of company culture.

About the Japanese market, Chinmay believes the market is “hard to jump in and jump out”. Foreign companies have a hard time understanding the Japanese market and Japanese startups struggle expanding globally after focusing on such a peculiar market. Even if Foodpanda doesn’t plan to come to Japan yet, Chinmay seems interested in Japan even if he doesn’t really get how things work here. Japanese customers are still ordering from their desktop and are slow to embrace the mobile revolution but Chinmay considers that Japan is still a market that holds a lot of potential.

Many thanks to Skyland Venture (#SVFT) for inviting such an inspirational speaker. We can’t wait for the next one and also the Skyland Venture Tokyo Fest in December!

For more exciting news follow @Kinoshitay on Twitter.

Leave a Reply