Happy New Year to everybody. 2009 was a great year for Just-Eat. Just-Eat is starting to grow up and get closer to the full potential of the company. The funding round this Summer, where Index Ventures among others invested in us is of course a sign of that, but there are so many other things that has happened. It would take too long – and would be too boring to read – to mention all the positive things here, but let me mention a few anyway.
First of all, we finished getting the top team in place. I am very pleased with the kind of talent that I now has as my nearest colleagues. It is smart and experienced people that all want to go that extra mile, and which all want this company to become a true, international success. Importantly, it is also a team, that works as a team. Getting old and new to work together, mixing skills and experiences has been key, and is often something that is difficult to achieve when a company goes through the phase from small to quite a lot bigger. It takes a cultural change, but it is necessary.
Second, as indicated above, we have managed to change our culture and modus operandi. A lot of soft stuff with hard consequences. We have taken the best of the old culture/belief set, gotten rid of some not so productive elements and introduced some badly needed new perspectives. It has not happened overnight without clashes and misunderstandings, but we are very far in the process now, and there is no way back which, importantly, everybody understands. Having a shared, but also open culture, is key to succeed in what we want to do.
Thirdly, we have managed to accelerate our UK company tremendously. This is so important, since the UK takeaway market is the biggest in Europe, and the second biggest in the Western World (I don’t know much about China and Japan yet, but they do eat a bit of delivery pizza, sushi and noodles). I remember when we did the 2009 budgets in November 2008, and the numbers looked really staggering. But we have delivered on the promises. For example, we have now more than 4,000 restaurants signed up all over the UK. Order levels are in the hundreds of thousands pr month. The organisation has been strengthened significantly. We are starting to become a brand, that many people know. Etc., etc. As a consequence of all this, we have achieved one of our key business objectives for 2009, which was to make sure, we were the only national player. There are of course still a couple of competitors in the UK (and there always will be), but they are all de facto local. This gives us important leverage in many aspects of our business system.
The last key accomplishment I want to highlight is something that is not at all finished yet, but has come a long way in 2009. It is to increase the general skill level in all the important business dimensions of the company, and to institutionalise these skills in various ways. Just-Eat has like all other start-ups had some areas, where things worked really well, and some other areas, where there was not so much focus. For example, Just-Eat has always been good in Sales, but the last few years Marketing has not been executed at a professional level. Tech is another area, where underinvestment in many years meant, that “Tech Debt” has been accumulating. Tech Debt is manageable if a company grows at a “normal pace”, but when growth is accelerating in all dimensions (no. of customers, no. of restaurants, no. of employees, no. of countries, etc.), then Tech Debt can be deadly. We are dealing with this now in a professional way, even though we still need more work to be world class (e.g. a world class company does not experience the down time we saw on 1.1. when DK had problems one hour and UK had problems for a couple of hours – not good, and a big apology to all you Just-Eat fans out there!).
I think we are well prepared to go full steam ahead in yet another year. There will be challenges and all that, but that is part of the joy of buidling companies and new ways of doing things – you have to enjoy those horrible moments somehow (if you want a visual version of what I mean, then check this video, and note the final comment, “yehaa“!). The takeaway revolution is unstoppable; Order takeaway, the smart way.
I hope the best for our company, our customers, our restaurateurs, partners, employees, and everybody else in 2009. Happy New Year.