Rocket Internet, the tech startup incubator that many love to hate, has produced many well-known startups. It’s the company behind many big names in Asia such as Lazada, Zalora, and Pricepanda. However, the German-based company also has a few failures. But that doesn’t stop it from trying to conquer the tech world, especially in terms of ecommerce. One of the most recognized web services from Rocket Internet is meal delivery site Foodpanda.
Although its regional competitor Food Runner claims to be the number one online food delivery service in Southeast Asia in terms of revenue, that doesn’t really get under Foodpanda’s skin as the company has a way bigger goal than that. It wants to be the Facebook of food ordering, according to the company’s global CEO, Ralf Wenzel.
But what does that actually mean?
Be the world standard of food ordering
Foodpanda – along with sister site Hellofood – operates in selected cities across 40 nations in Asia-Pacific, eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa. In February of this year, Foodpanda and Hellofood received US$20 million in funding, which boosts the total, global war-chest to $48 million since their launch in 2012.
During a trip to Bangkok, Wenzel explained to Tech in Asia how the company plans to use its money in Asia. He says Foodpanda wants to be “the name” for food ordering. How will it do that? The new funding money will be spent focusing on two areas:
Of course, in order to be the world’s number one, the company has to expand its territory. Wenzel says that this year the company will concentrate on expanding to not only new countries, but more cities in currently operating countries as well.
2. Better user experience
Foodpanda will focus more on improving the customer experience, which includes customer services and better food ordering technology to make the whole process easier and more user friendly. “We can only be a global company if we’re perceived to be the best,” he adds.
In Asia, Foodpanda is available in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan. The company sees the same growth pattern – an average of 15 percent growth every week – in every Asian market it’s in.
From offline to mobile
Although Foodpanda sees strong growth in mobile usage in each market, there’s a slightly different trend in Asia. Wenzel explains:
Due to a strong growth of middle class and adoption of new technology, we see a shift from offline to web to mobile. But for Asia, especially Thailand and Indonesia, we see a jump from offline right to mobile – skipping the web usage. Thus the company will put a strong emphasis on the mobile app this year as our main business model is to make it the most convenient for our customers.
Creating more entrepreneurs – the Rocket Internet way
In contrast to FoodRunner, Foodpanda tends not to grow by acquiring local sites. Instead it focuses on creating new entrepreneurs as a new CEO in every market it’s in – the way Rocket Internet does it.
Now we’re in 40 markets. We can learn much faster from each other. So our model is to have an entrepreneur sitting in a country using global standards that we share to improve that market. Our focus is building a business organically in the most sustainable way.
Bringing customers online
According to Wenzel, over 90 percent of the food ordering market is still offline. That means customers prefer making phone calls to place orders. Wenzel says that changing user behavior is a core thing that both Foodpanda and its competitors should focus on.
Editing by Steven Millward
The only big competitor is the offline market. It’s beneficial for all of us to have more than one player [in the sector]. We can together educate the market of what online food ordering is. The market is big enough for many of us.