A couple of days ago I had my goodbye dinner in London with many of my old JUST EAT colleagues. It was a great evening (and very bad the day after) that hammered home the fact that it will take a very long time before I again can work with so many good people in one, great company (working on it, but it will take time, more about that another day).
My dear ex-colleagues had also been so considered to give me some gifts. Already some weeks ago the Danes gave me a toy robot, and funny enough on Wednesday evening the “one-day-technology-will-take-care-of-food-delivery” theme had also been the starting point, so me (and my kids) just got this shiny new toy, yehaaa, time to fly!
However, most unique of all, was a poster that some of the marketing guys had made, since I have always dreamt of being a super hero, especially one with a hot dog in his hand. I’m not sure exactly what the message is, but there is a lot of details and stories on this poster – the revolution is coming to a takeaway near you!
Again-again: thanks for all to those who helped make it possible. And now on to new adventures that needs a hot-dog equipped viking super hero – the Universe and Beyond!
When I joined JUST EAT in March nearly 5 years ago, the original plan was to take one year at a time. I had never been involved in anything for 5 years, and thinking 5 years ahead seemed impossible, so one year at a time seemed to be the sensible thing. By August 2008 I had moved to London with my family, and very soon after that I 1) fell in love with the company and 2) realised that JUST EAT could become much bigger than anyone could imagine. I knew it would still be one year at a time, but I also knew that it could be a long and very interesting journey.
In the beginning of 2008 JUST EAT was still a fairly small company, but it had build a very solid business in Denmark that earned money, 90% of our revenues were in Denmark. We decided to make UK the core market for us, and then launch in other markets as much as we could given the UK priority.
Then the rocket really started. For me, the inflexion point was summer-autumn 2009. In spring/summer 2009 we negotiated and finally closed our series A round with Index as a lead, and in the autumn we did the first TV campaign in UK which together with solid restaurant growth and a lot of other activities saw the orders go through the roof.
In those 5 years, the company went from being a 35-man Danish company that was one of several companies in the online takeaway ordering space to becoming the world leader with 1,000 employees. Very few world leaders have roots in Europe, so everybody who contributed should be happy. And it is not at all the end for JUST EAT – more about that later.
Why and why now
Once every quarter my wife has asked me to stop working for JUST EAT. We moved back home to Denmark nearly 2 years ago, and since then I have travelled more than 3 days a week, a lot to London obviously, but also to many other countries. And that is tough when you have a family with small kids. You can do that for only so long – and I planned to do it for a bit longer despite a bit of home front scepticism.
But, that is not really good enough from the company’s perspective, I have to accept that. A company such as JUST EAT, with it’s ambitious plans and momentum needs a CEO who is committed for many more years, and it “might” also be a good idea to have a person who is more often in London where we have most of the central functions, the Group exec team, etc. So before the “next phase” of the company it makes sense to get a new CEO on board, it is not healthy to change the leader when crossing a river, it has to happen well before that.
Ideally I would have staid a bit longer, but there is a logic that I can’t argue against. Tough for me, right for the company.
The future of JUST EAT
Regarding the future of JUST EAT, there is only one thing to say: it will be awesome. There are so many things happening in the company, so much momentum and so many good people that it can only be better. Some of the areas where I am particularly excited is what we will do the next 6-12 months on the technology side. Also, the continuous improvements of all the small details of sales, marketing and operations are happening all the time. Customers and restaurants can look forward to a lot of good stuff.
So, it is time to say thanks to everybody who helped move the company forward. I don’t want to mention any specific JUST EAT’ers, each of you know how much you have contributed, and there are so many of you. Also thanks to restaurants and consumers, investors, advisers, partners and friends. You all deserve a slice of the success.
The JUST EAT journey will continue – and I will quietly follow it from the distance, but start on another journey my self. What that will be I don’t know for sure (a few ideas though, and let me know if you have any as well …) – it will be something with good people and growth for sure.
Here is the internal, amateur goodbye video I made to all my great colleagues. If you don’t understand the quirkiness, then join the company and you will get it -;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHTyvUkfAXo
Klaus Nyengaard steps down as CEO for JUST EAT Group
London based JUST EAT, the world’s largest online takeaway ordering service, today announced that after nearly five years as CEO, Klaus Nyengaard is leaving the Company.
Commenting on his departure, Klaus Nyengaard said “I have loved my time working at JUST EAT and believe it is a great company with an exciting future. However, I made a commitment to return to Denmark with my family nearly two years ago. Since then I have been commuting between Denmark and London, which was ultimately not the perfect solution for the Company or me. Of all the achievements at JUST EAT, I am most proud of helping to build a world class team and will greatly miss the daily contact with colleagues and friends at JUST EAT.”
In the last five years JUST EAT has grown from 35 employees based mostly in Denmark to over 1,000 employees with operations in 13 countries. In 2012 the Company was profitable and is now generating over €750m in food orders for its restaurant partners.Commenting on Klaus’s departure Ben Holmes, partner at Index Ventures and long–time JUST EAT investor & board member said “I would like to thank and congratulate Klaus for all he achieved during his tenure at JUST EAT. His vision and energy were key motivations for our initial and subsequent investments in the Company and he has delivered on that vision to make JUST EAT a European ecommerce champion. We wish him the best for the future and look forward to his next venture. ”
The existing executive team led by Chairman John Hughes will run the company while a search is conducted for a new CEO.
I have never been a big believer in grand quotes that summed up everything. Every situation has it’s own context, and even the best quote will only cover some parts of a complicated situation. But one quote have been with me ever since I saw it for the first time in 1986 (thanks Lester, best history teacher ever – RIP), and it is this one
“It is dangerous to make man aware of his likeness with the animals, without also showing him superiority. Even so, it can be dangerous to show him superiority without showing him inferiority, yet even more dangerous to be ignorant of both.”(Pascal)
I think there is a lot of truth in that message, exactly because it does not pretend to have a clear message; sometimes be aware humans are horrible and not to be trusted, sometime be aware that after all we are noble beings with abstraction levels way beyond snails, gobbles and orangutans that can make the most fantastic creations that spreads happiness etc., etc. And the best part is, that it is not always clear when we are having what role. Uh, how complicated it all is – better get back to some real work!
Wanted to share this one from my dear colleague and Chief Sizzle Officer, Mat Braddy, his “out of office” email reply the next couple of weeks:
Mat is off in Lapland persuading Father Christmas to delivery Reindeer
curry after he finishes with silly toys. Mother Christmas kills, skins
and then cooks the old knackered animals every year anyway. They need
to sweat their assets and expand into new markets – JUST EAT is
ideally placed to help.
Mat will return Jan 7th 2013 with the launch of Eat-Elf.com to follow
Mat, have a nice, long holiday, you have deserved it!
There are awards, and there are awards, but this one we won tonight I am really happy about, because it is another proof of JUST EAT getting respect for the awesome marketing thinking and execution we have build the last few years:
A big thanks to our dear CMO, Mr Braddy, Richard and the almost 100 marketeers that are working day and night to push JUST EAT in the right direction. Yehaaa!
I just received this picture from the Wolff. Him and Camron are in India this week, and today they hit the street in Mumbai together with our sales team in this massive metropolis of more than 20 mio. people (i.e. four times Denmark!). Operating our business in India is a bit different than other JUST EAT countries, but when it comes to Sales, it is the same basics: intelligent research & planning, great communication skills and lots of hard work. I am sure Uttam’s guys are on top of the situation -;)
Update: just got a picture of the Delhi team, yehaaa:
Bangalore coming next …
One and a half year ago we/JUST EAT decided to move forward more ambitiously with the JUST EAT Academy. The objective is to supplement the valuable on-the-job training with more structured learning and development. In practice, the set-up has been running for less than a year, and there is plenty more to do, but from my perspective we can already see some really good results, e.g.
- Most of the managers in JUST EAT have now been through our Management Assessment Centre (“MAC”). This means that as a supplement to their line manager’s view on their performance and development needs, then we have a structured, 360 degree view on the person from many of the traditional management/leader dimensions, e.g. communication skills, presentation skills, collaboration skills, analytical skills, etc. The MAC is definitely not the final truth, and the line managers qualitative view is still key, but it all adds up to a better understanding of what the manager need to do to develop her- or himself. It is challenging to be a manager in a fast growing company, so if JUST EAT can support with a few tools then great.
- Together with an external agency, we have developed a really good sales module called “Sweet & Sour”. A lot of sales reps and managers have already been through this program, and it is getting very good reviews. The important thing now of course, is to make sure the learning’s are actually been put into use when the participants come back home, so that is a key focus area for the sales managers.
- We have a lot of people in JUST EAT, who have their first management job, or which have the biggest management challenge they have ever had, so a course in basic management skills can come in handy. We have therefore put together a course (”JUST about people”), where the participants goes through a catalogue of the fundamental management tools, and we have run this course for the first time some weeks ago.
We want to institutionalise learning, and it is of course not only about fine courses, but it all helps. To build a truly great, international company, having the most talented people that are constantly upgrading their skillset is fundamental. And that breeds a virtuous circle, because as people in one part of the organisation shows how to improve, there will be peer pressure on other parts to improve as well. In a performance environment such as JUST EAT, where there is focus on improving all the time, healthy competition drives the company forward, and it is important that the company support this with tools and infrastructure, such as the Academy. We are not yet where we should be in rolling this philosophy out, but we have made a good start.
If you want to scale your business beyond the small-company level, you have to put learning and development at the core together with a performance culture. Deliver, then learn to deliver more/better/faster/funnier/cheaper. It’s all very Jammy!
JUST EAT launched in Spain December 2010. It was a bit of a bet, because everybody said Southern Europe is not a place for delivery food, but that scepticism was proved wrong very quickly. Spain is not one of the biggest markets in the World, and there are “a few macro economic issues” on the Iberian Peninsula, but we have been so fortunate to build an absolute kick-ass team lead by Jerome Gavin, and the growth has been better than anything we ever imagined. Thanks guys for the hard work over the last nearly two years.
There was also another team that launched just before JUST EAT, it was team Sindelantal. The company is co-founded by Evaristo Babe and Diego Ballesteros, and they also managed to involve the experienced angel investor Michael Kleindl. In the last two years JUST EAT and Sindelantal has competed full throttle and in the process pushed the market to migrate online ever faster. JUST EAT has grown a bit faster, but both companies has done very well – and today we are very happy to announce that JUST EAT.es and Sindelantal has joined forces!
At JUST EAT we believe in investing heavily in 1) building the best possible, national restaurant network and 2) communicating the advantages of online ordering to customers. Our acquisition of Sindelantal makes it possible to roll-out the online takeaway concept even faster in Spain. That is good news for restaurants and consumers, and in the long run it will also be a good story for JUST EAT.
Congratulations to Evaristo & Diego – well done in founding and building a company with real substance. And we look forward to follow you as you scale up your business in Mexico.
And congratulations to Spain, JUST EAT loves you more than ever!
Always a pleasure to be with the samba guys!