Mumbai Sales + Delhi update

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 -;)

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Update: just got a picture of the Delhi team, yehaaa:

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Bangalore coming next …

Scaling a business – learning and performance focus

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!

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Consolidation in Spain

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.

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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!

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The Chefs are coming – don’t cook JUST EAT

It was JUST EAT who pioneered building a “proper” consumer brand in our sector using classical media channels with a twist. We started working on the Belly & Brain concept at the end of 2008, and it has done a great job in the UK and a number of other countries, but now it is time to move on. We are taking our branding efforts to a new level, and we are now ready to introduce the chefs!

The chefs are pretty upset, because time and time again they can see that normal people are doing the cooking them selves! What a hassle! It is also dangerous! And often it doesn’t taste very well – other people have the same view (“don’t trust you oven” – slightly manipulated of course!). Cooking should be done by the professionals, the chefs – and funny enough, those guys you can access via JUST EAT.

The chefs are a determined bunch, and in order to rally all of us, they have of course like all good revolutionaries made a manifesto to make it crystal clear what they are trying to achieve:

MANIFESTO

1.  COOKING IS COBBLERS. We want people to burn their aprons and liberate themselves from the tyranny of cooking.

2.  CHEFS IS BEST. People must cease stealing our jobs. We are the professionals. We do the cooking.

3.  EATING GOOD. COOKING BAD. Eating is easy, unless you suffer from a goiter. Cooking is all choppy, choppy, messy, messy.

4.  PLAY PING PONG WITH SAUCEPANS. We want people to stop cooking and use their time more wisely.

5.  BURN ALL COOK BOOKS. This is our recipe for a better world.

6.  COOKING IS VERY DANGEROUS. People should avoid losing limbs or even death by staying out of the kitchen,

7.  SILENCE ALL CELEBRITY CHEFS. Take a cheese grater to their noses and stop them from spouting culinary views we find quite unnecessary.

8.  WAR ON WASHING UP MANUFACTURERS. We must rid the world of these evil people for inventing cooking purely to enrich themselves.

9.  DON’T COOK, JUST EAT. Sing it, Shout it, chant it, tattoo it onto your hairy chests, but don’t stop until every cooker in the country is kicked into touch.

Isn’t this getting you interest just a little bit? If you want to learn more about these charachters then check out this background video. And here is the official intro commercial.

You can also follow the Mozz, Mr Halloumi, Mr Basmati (my personal favourite) and all the others on Twitter, Facebook Youtube and all those other modern ways of communicating.

Did we have a twinkle in our eye as we developed this universe – jahh, I think so! And some of the guys went all their way to show support for the chefs (thanks Anne & Mat, you look really cool and corporate!):

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Don’t cook, JUST EAT – enjoy!

Creative destruction, so nineties!

I have a fairly long history with digital business creation. At university I had my first trials of chat, email, file transfer etc. via the internet and when I joined McKinsey some of the first projects I did as a consultant was related to what big (and not always fast moving) corporations should do with the digital technologies that came out in mid-90’s. My very first business engagement where digital was at the forefront was in late 1994 for a big Scandinavian media company, and I remember how I analysed the potential for using proprietary dial up networks (who remembers Minitel?). Then in 1996 with the Yahoo! stock listing all hell broke lose, “internet” became a word everybody had head, but few people understood. That was an extremely exciting time, because no-one had a clue about what this new media could be used for, but for the dreamers and the ambitious there was no end to what this could lead to.

I  got my own dial up modem, and using the Mosaic browser (and the hot, new Netscape browser) I surfed together with the first tens of millions internet users. It was a bit more hype than actual progress, but there was still such an obvious potential if we could get faster access and more choice, i.e. professional services for e-commerce, music, community (before it was called social media), film, etc. So, I joined the internet revolution full time in 1997 – and I like most others still didn’t know exactly how all the potential should be unlocked.

There are so many fun and interesting things that has happened the last 15 years as part of my journey through the digital revolution, and even just going through what happened in the rest of the nineties would fill a couple of thick books. This weekend just gone by, I had to move a lot of old boxes from one storage room to another, and I always find it is impossible to resist peeking into the boxes and check out old stuff that I apparently for some reason wanted to store away many years ago. So, I found some 1997-98 vintage internet reports. Extremely funny to read, check this out: a Warburg Dillon Read report from June 1998 says the following of mighty AOL:

“The online race is over, and AOL has won. AOL is the largest and fastest growing online service provider, and it continues to gain market share. We believe that the company’s brand name and highly skilled management team, make AOL the best investment in the online world. More importantly, the business model will likely only continue to improve”.

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Woooooooow! The flat-rate-for-slow-and-proprietary-online-access model was killed over the next few years, and on top of that AOL entered into the disastrous merger with Time-Warner (mostly a disaster for Time-Warner). AOL definitely played a big and positive role in educating the masses about online services, but ultimately they lost their huge lead. The consumers were more sophisticated, ready to move faster than AOL. New technologies made broadband access available for most. Creative and risk willing entrepreneurs wanted to innovate on the free internet, not the controlled walled garden of AOL. All in all, consumers went for the best deal, the most exciting plays and in only a few years AOL went from the undisputed king to being one of many tier 2 companies.

Only one year later, things had already started to change. In another report I found, Morgan Stanley in June 1998 ranks Yahoo almost at the same level as AOL in terms of company strength, and less than three year old Excite came up as one of the potential leaders of the future. No mention of Google, which had not even been incorporated at this point in time. 1998 was the year when it started to become apparent that the raw, free and chaotic version of online media would be the winner after all.

What is the learning? There are plenty of angles on this, but for me some of the most important ones are:

  1. Don’t underestimate the consumers ability to become more sophisticated over time
  2. Always assume there is innovation opportunities that can change your model, and then find/leverage them before competition
  3. Make sure you get the support from the best and biggest eco-system out there

It is easy to be smart in hindsight (I have made my fair share of wrong bets on technology speed, consumer sophistication, etc.), and today AOL is starting to look in better shape again, even though it is not one of the top dogs. But it does make you wonder a bit, when you are running a successful internet company that things can change so fast. One year master of the universe, two years later a dog. It is easy to read the above “learning’s” and agree, but it is something entirely different to make sure you stay on top in practice.

At JUST EAT we know we always have to watch out, change and improve. The big challenge is not the steady-steady incremental challenge, but the change that is needed when the underlying assumptions change. When the mental model of the market change. When technologies takes a leap. When consumer behaviour pivots. Ask Nokia. Ask Compaq. Ask the newspaper publishers.

But exactly this dynamic is also what makes the digital area so super interesting. This is one of the key reasons I joined the revolution in the first place. And it is one of the reasons why JUST EAT today has great prospects: change is good, and over time even fundamental change will most likely be good, especially if you adapt accordingly. Creative destruction as good old Schumpeter would have said. It’s tough in the short term, but there are great opportunities in the long term.

Who knows, maybe AOL will figure something out and take advantage of future technology and consumer behaviour changes and again make analysts say “AOL has won”. Today, we cannot say “the online race is over” and X emerged as the clear king, the situation is fortunately more fluid and fragmented than that. Apple, Google and Amazon can all claim their fair share of success, but the overall internet eco-system supports literally hundreds of niches that are still up for grabs even though the big guys tries to make their semi-proprietary eco-systems influence the outcome.

Have fun, just like in the nineties!

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Exec Team Seminar June 2012

Once in a while the JUST EAT Exec Team (aka “ET”) goes off-site a couple of days to have enough peace and trancquility to reflect on where we are as a company. This week we met up in a summerhouse North of Copenhagen. Before we went to the summer house we had time to stop by at Rasmus’ house so the UK based guys could see how we live over here in Welfare Denmark – the picture documents it is all nice and relaxing.

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Afterwards we did a bit of slot racing, since we always need some competition to keep the team building going. As usual we were all accusing each other of cheating, but victory in the end was just and fair -;)

Many things were on the agenda, but that is obviously a bit difficult to publish here, so instead you get a picture of the view form the summerhouse.

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JUST EAT World Party 2012

The biggest event of the year in JUST EAT is without any comparison our annual World Party. The event was first tested some years ago and has since changed a lot as our company has changed, but one thing has always been at the centre of the concept: fun and socialising. And for sure, that was also at the centre stage of the World Party we had last week at a venue outside of London.

AllColleaguesWP2012

There is no need to spend a lot of words on the event, I will instead try to capture part of the atmosphere with a series of pictures, enjoy – we did. But if you only have 8 minutes available, then go straight to this heavily cut down video of traditional JUST EAT Got Talent Show, it was a lot more fun than what you can see here, but it might give some feeling for the evening: JUST EAT 2012 Got Talent Show

(NB: there are also hundreds of pictures on facebook page following the event if you can access the FB group).

Nearly 400 people from all over the World came to Berkshire, UK, ready to get started all dressed in fashionable JUST EAT t-shirts:

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First a presentation on what is going on overall with the company, people came to have fun, so we spend less than an hour on that, here I am showing some creative sizzle the marketing guys has dreamed up:

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We quickly moved on to the team events, we like to do competitions, so everybody were send out with their teams to solve all kinds of   missions, here some of the teams:

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Some people (the Celts) took it all more relaxed:

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And others put in an effort and won:

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Then we “nearly all” did Little Fish, Big Fish, that was pretty hilarious, but we didn’t get the World Record for most people dancing in sync because 100 people decided it was better to sit outside and enjoy the 25c with a cold beer (grrrr …):

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But then our very own Mr Beat Box got the Jam back:

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We also tried to see if we could get some other official Guinness Books of World Records, and we succeeded (not sure how long those very important records will last, but we made it!). One record was in keeping as many balloons as possible flying for 1 minute:

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And one in undressing 10 t-shirts as quickly as possible, another very important and high profile sport:

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Last couple of years we have given each country a cottage, where they could serve delicacies from their home countries of both solid and liquid nature, this year we gave each country a tent, and combined with fantastic weather (25c in the UK in May is not that common!) people’s mood quickly went from great to stellar, some examples:

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And then the highlight of the evening, the JUST EAT 2012 Got Talent Show (check link for video). First the intro with Ras on Sax and some big pretender:

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UK marketing doing Bollywood dancing:

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Brazilian samba:

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Who says Finance can’t dance:

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UK Sales doing the Haka:

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And several others, but the winners were – the Danes singing about how they are treated as cash cows, hmm think about that for a second:

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We also had the traditional JUST EAT Awards for best of this and that (congrats to Spain, Norway, UK, Switzerland and Sebastien), and Mr. Buttress got a kiss and a piggy bank:

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And after that no more team building or award ceremonies, JUST PARTY:

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Thanks to all JUST EAT’ers for a great World Party – see you all plus a lot more again next year.

NB: special thanks to Leah, Mike and Anne for getting everything organised so briliantly, especially the weather really impressed me.

The big C

We did it again! Went through a few months of focused effort and then suddenly the Just-Eat bank account has been filled up. The press release says we raised $64 Mio., but with the exchange rate on the day it was actually $65 Mio. – but as they say, what is a Million between friends? Officially this is called a series C funding round, because that is what logically comes after A and B funding rounds, internally known as “the big C”.

The new guys we have chosen to work with are Vitruvian Partners – also great for us to see we got full backing from our existing investors, thanks to Index, Greylock and Redpoint. For those that follow the European internet scene Vitruvian doesn’t pop up as the traditional VC, but more of a Private Equity company (“PE”), which is true. So, why are we suddenly getting money from spreadsheet driven PE’s instead of the sexy “big picture” VC’s? The answer is simple: it is difficult in Europe to raise that level of money from traditional VC’s. $65 Mio. is a lot of money, and well beyond the scope of the traditional VC model. In the US it is different, but if you want someone that has a European presence to support you then an important option to explore is the mid-cap growth focused PE guys with internet experience. Another argument for inviting PE’s on board is that they in general have another set of expertise and support infrastructure which is helpful in our situation.

We got – as usual, I am cocky enough to add – a fair amount of interest, and most of those potential investors were PE companies, typically US investors with a good European presence. Several of them we really liked, but we ended up with Vitruvian partly because they had a different feel to them. Of course Vitruvian offered the right terms, but several investors did – most of the people we talked to in the process were also really good people we got along with, but the specific Vitruvian guys on this transaction had a great rapport with us. It probably helped some of them in the past worked as VC’s, entrepreneurs or executives in high growth companies.

And what will we use the money for? Other than the usual jokes about corporate jets, there are only a few specific things on the list, and the rest is dependent on what happens in the future. We already run a tight ship, where we generate enough money in profitable countries to fund loss making countries. But there are so many growth opportunities out there in terms of new countries, consolidation/M&A opportunities, new technologies etc. so it makes a lot of sense to have a very strong balance sheet so we can move fast if the right opportunity arises.

Just-Eat is ready for the next chapter in our history, thanks to all who contributed so far! Back to running the business – money is nice, but the real deal is what you can do with those money, and that is all about satisfying restaurants and consumers.

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Professionalism in an entrepreneurial company

Yesterday, I was in Holland where I did a Q&A session with the Dutch team. Every once in a while I like to meet my colleagues locally the countries, where the local teams has the opportunity to ask all kinds of questions, and I have the opportunity to hear how they view the world and explain what direction Just-Eat is going. It is interesting for me to see what aspects are being brought up, and even though there always are some classics then there are some surprises here and there.

One of the issues we spend some time on yesterday was “professionalism”. Several people asked questions that were related to getting more structure & planning, more defined roles & responsibilities, better coaching & training, etc., i.e. all the stuff you would expect from a professional company.

Any successful, high-growth company goes through the different phases from idea/concept, early start-up, early growth, etc., and the trick is to get it right in each of the phases which are often very different from previous phases. And if a company doesn’t adjust quickly enough to a new phase (often pro-actively pushing into the next phase), then coming to the next level is only more difficult, if not impossible.

The challenge is that people also need to change. Some people are brilliant in one phase, but out of their depth (or just not motivated) in the other phases. A few can actually master many phases, extremely few work well in all phases. Nothing new here, this has been part of the technology and management literature for many decades, but the interesting thing is that it is still so difficult to get right, and the key reason for this is that “people” don’t get it. Or rather; they might understand to some extent, but they are not actually taking the full consequence.

In Just-Eat, one of the challenges we have is that we want our culture to represent both professionalism as well as entrepreneurialism. Entrepreneurialism I believe is about energy, willingness to take risks and mental flexibility. Key elements of professionalism is for me about applying the necessary levels of intelligence and structure. Some people believe the two things are not compatible. That is absolutely not true! It gets harder as a company grows, absolutely, but if you roll over and surrender to one view then it only gets worse.

Of course sometimes the two will clash, but at a closer look it happens less often than what we normally would think. Sometimes people that are out of their depths will complain about things no longer being entrepreneurial enough, and things are now “corporate and bureaucratic”. Likewise, sometimes some would say it is difficult because a situation is not handled professionally enough, “more time/analysis/structure/money” is needed, but maybe the problem is difficulty in getting on with fixing the problem, and taking a bit of calculated risks (“sometimes” is the key word here …). In many cases where I hear one of the two sides it is more excuses than real problems. Yes, it is tough sometimes to get it right, and I don’t always have the ultimate silver bullet either, but I am certain that the two sides can live together in healthy competition. When building high growth companies it is the right thing to balance the two. The right mix will change over time, but they both need to be there. Those that believe professionalism is equal to bureaucracy lose out on major opportunities.

At the personal level, I think it is important for all who loves to participate in building and growing businesses, that you do as was stated across the Apollo Temple in Delphi: “know thyself”. Understand what part of company building you are good at, and motivated by. Don’t fool your self into believing you are great in all phases. And be happy to leave the organisation the day you can see things are no longer good for you – and move on without moaning about how the company will now be destroyed and everything was better in the old days. You could of course be right, but the future progress of the company (or lack of) will typically tell the story.

Get the balance right in your culture for each phase, and I promise you have one of the most important things in place when building and growing a company. Very banal in theory, very difficult in practice.

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