Monthly Archives: July 2010

BBQ vs. takeaway

I am of course a big fan of takeaway, and after having moved to London where the choice of cuisine is excellent, I have also build a bit of a passion for good takeaway. Healthy but still yummy sushi, a nice hawaiian pizza with just the right amount of pineapple, butter chicken with sweet taste etc. – all great treats when you want some nice food without too much hassle. Many people have it like this, but throughout the last month many people have also felt it was a bit too warm for takeaway, so they have opted for BBQ instead. Oh horror – not good for Just-Eat. We have seen our growth flat line in many countries the last several weeks, and that is stressful for a company that is used to 20% growth rates (pr month!).

But a good BBQ with some nice folks is of course also a treat, so let us not get too excited about millions of regular takeaway users turning to their Weber grill these hot summer days (grrr …). I went to a nice BBQ my self yesterday together with the family. Me and a handful of my colleagues met to socialise and listen to the kids destroying a bouncing castle, all very relaxing. Here is a picture of the BBQ before the kids went on a rampage.

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PD-41

This post is a very internal post, and it is very brief, but I had to write it. The agonising pain inside had to come out now that it is all over … finally, our problem child #1 in the tech department has after a massive effort been solved: PD-41 good bye, and may you never come back. You were a bad boy, a project we don’t want to see ever again.

If I was a composer, I would write this sad song to mark PD-41, and I would write this fantastic piece (thanks Grieg) to celebrate we are moving on, and quickly so -;)

Thanks to all who struggled to make it happen.

The story – again, again

The blog I posted yesterday on some for me new facts about the early life of Just-Eat have given some backdoor comments, which I also expected, since it is not a well known fact, that there were people involved with Just-Eat all the way back in 1998. I got a phone call from Jesper Buch, and he wanted to be sure, that we are not in the process of writing an untrue story about the past, and of course that is not the case. So, for the record: Jesper Buch played a very important role as CEO and leading co-founder when he took charge after the 2002 shake out. That is beyond any discussion, and no one want to change that.

What I set out to do with my blog post was something different: 1) there is an even more fascinating and even older story behind Just-Eat than what I had known until now, and 2) co-founders that did contribute in the important early days should be remembered for their effort no matter whether they played a big or a small role. I am not interested in who was the most important person, and who did what in 2002. We are in an excellent position today and that is the most important thing.

The Just-Eat story, revisited, and the way forward

One of my big interests, that I sadly don’t have enough time to enjoy is “history”. So much can be learned about what has happened in the past. Understanding our roots as humans, as a nation, as a society, a family, etc. is very valuable when trying to figure out where to go. Company history can also be interesting some times, and I have just realised a few days ago, that the Just-Eat story is not exactly what I thought. I started getting intimate with this great company in the spring of 2008, and I of course tried to understand where the company was as a business, but I also talked to my colleagues about the deeper past, e.g. who started it, what were the challenges back then in 2001, how did they get the idea to the Just-Eat Terminal, etc.

Then last week I get across a guy that is the actual founding father of Just-Eat, and I had hardly ever heard about him. His name is Christian Frismodt, he is Danish and in his mid-30’s. I have always been told that Just-Eat was launched in August 2001, so 2001 was kind of the founding year of the company. However, Christian got the idea to Just-Eat all the way back in 1998, when he worked for Coca-Cola Denmark as a Regional Manager. It was one of his co-founders (Poul David Videbæk) that came up with the idea to one of the key technology pillars of Just-Eat, the GPRS based terminal to communicate with the restaurants instead of using fax machines. Another of the co-founders, Peter Bøje, should also be mentioned since he established Just-Eat formally as a company together with Christian in 2000. A fourth person was drawn into the founding team (Torben Munkholm) via a Danish incubator called Vækstfonden. They were also the team who made a couple of the first and very important partnerships that made it possible for the company to grow, i.e. with Coca-Cola. An article in a Danish business publication from the beginning of 2002 is one of the few places where the team’s efforts is being documented – you can read it here (Just-Eat article 2002), and for those of you can read Danish (or know that such an awesome thing as Google Translate  exists) it is interesting to see the enthusiasm and early aspiration of Peter Bøje and Christian Frismodt. Young, eager entrepreneurs that want to conquer the world (well, it was probably only Denmark, but still).

What is also mentioned in the article is a merger with the company called FoodZoom. It was another Danish company founded around 2001 by three or four other entrepreneurs. They also wanted to build a company helping to connect hungry surfers and restaurants, and in a small market as Denmark it made a lot of sense to collaborate – so they merged in 2001 which lead to the launch of just-eat.dk on 1. August 2001. And the rest is well-known history with Jesper Buch leading the charge!

Or is it? Because something happened some time in 2002. I wasn’t in the company back then, and all of my existing colleagues started after 2002, so I don’t have a good insight into that classic founder clash that took place. I guess one could argue that with 6-8 founders from two different companies, then something had to happen, and it did. There are different versions of the story, but from my view all of those people that played a positive role the first couple of years should get credit. The 6,7 or 8 co-founders should be honoured for doing their bit to get Just-Eat going even though some of them indisputable played a much bigger role than others.

I am very pleased that I have now linked up with Christian Frismodt. He has done well since he left the company (despite having been involved in a serious accident that nearly killed him) and has founded a couple of other companies, of which one for a strange reason is called something with “Just” -;)

It is very interesting to hear how he envisioned the company 11 years ago. I think the company today is much bigger than what he could ever imagine back then, so it is also thrilling for him to hear how we are doing today. I think it is fair to say, that his baby has been nurtured, and it is now a big kid, but still with many years of growth ahead.

Another interesting point that I like in this so far 12 year long story is that Just-Eat is being build to last. Many entrepreneurial people have been in and out of the company, but the idea and the company build around the idea is so strong, that we are all “just” caretakers for a while. It is one of my most important responsibilities to assure, that when I am no longer running the company, then an even greater team will take the company to new heights. That is building a proper, great company. That is assured by recruiting talent on all levels of the company, and that is something we care a lot about here at Just-Eat. Every generation of Just-Eat caretakers should do better than the last.

Viva Espana

The next country where we will thrill the citizens with the Just-Eat online takeaway experience will be Spain. We have researched the market quite substantially, and even though the takeaway delivery market in Spain is not particularly big or mature, then it is still an interesting market for us to launch in.

Even though Spain is not going to be a major market for many years, then we have decided to enter the market aggressively, since we know how to scale the business, and we are confident that by pushing hard in the first couple of years, then we will also make the overall online market grow even bigger. But with a significant investment, we also need a strong team on the ground in Spain, and most importantly we need a first rate Country Manager. Country Managers for our kind of business (demanding and challenging on many levels) is difficult, but we have found our Spanish champion: let me introduce Jerome Gavin.

Jerome has everything we are looking for in a Country Manager; sales, marketing & operational experience, leadership, energy, smartness and on top of that both experience from a big internet company (eBay) as well as his own start-up. Hungry surfers in Spain can be looking forward to a treat.

Jerome will take charge very soon running Just-Eat.es out of Madrid, but with significant focus also on Barcelona (the location of our next World Meeting), so the launch can happen in the best possible way before Christmas. Viva Espana!

Board seminar June 2010

We have board meetings 4-5 times a year. It is pretty standard sessions lasting 3-4 hours where most of the Exec Team at some point participate and discuss various issues with the the two key owners of Just-Eat, Index Ventures and SM Trust. But then once a year, we have a full day board seminar. And for this year it happened yesterday here in London. It was a good day, and a great evening. I can of course not publish all the interesting stuff we discussed, but hey, we rock – at least some of the time!

In the evening most of us went for dinner at this posh place crowded with media and marketing types (sorry Mat, you weren’t there), so we easily fitted in (sorry David, you were there). Honestly, I might have preferred to go somewhere else and order some nice takeaway, but it is of course always a learning experience to see parts of the world that you don’t naturally visit. Here is a picture of a large table with some of the participants enjoying Stella (they didn’t even have Carlsberg) and some nicely squeezed grape.

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