Tag Archives: internationalising

GenieBelt’s great 2017

I realized a while ago, that on my blog I have done only sporadic updates on how things are evolving with my own startup, GenieBelt. Too bad, because things have been more than normally exciting especially the last one and a half year, and the journey so far is a good story of persistence and ambition, which I think startup interested people can learn from. (more…)

GenieBelt – the Genie to help Construction, now with funding

We, the construction genies from GenieBelt, just raised an angel round of $½ Million, yehaa! That's not a lot of money compared to some bigger funding rounds I have done in the past, but it's exactly what we need and the feeling is as good as when I did £40 Million rounds. And what will the money be spend on? (more…)

Wahanda – why I get involved in “hair and beauty”

Those that know me would not say the "hair & beauty" segment is a natural fit for me. My wife would even say I'm the anti-thesis to hair & beauty (she married me because of wit, charm and money ...) so how did I end up as chairman of Wahanda?

Earlier this spring I got a ping from Lopo Champalimaud. Lopo is co-founder and CEO of Wahanda, Europe's biggest destination for salon - and spa bookings. Initially I was a bit baffled, because why would people in the beauty space talk to me, they obviously had never met me or seen pictures of me, but when I then started chatting to Lopo, I quickly realised the logic for why I should talk to Wahanda. A while ago, Lopo had decided to go all in on the booking part of his business concept, i.e. if you need to get you hair done or want a beauty treatment, then go to Wahanda, check out the local salons in your area, and book directly into the system. Obviously, that is quite similar to the underlying model of JUST EAT - however, there are also some critical differences which team Wahanda has spotted and are getting the most out of. Lopo's Wahanda journey has so far been 5 years long, and lots have been achieved, but I am particularly excited about the focus on building up the best and biggest network of local merchants that can offer great supply of hair and beauty services through out the UK, and internationally as well. Lopo and his team (incl. the latest add-on of Simon and Chris) has more experience than anyone else in this space, and the size of the business is also well ahead of the many smaller players in the industry. Building internationally leading companies in emerging industries is one of the greatest professional experiences I know of, and I think Wahanda has a great opportunity to do exactly that. A chairman role is very different from the many years where I was running companies, but I hope that background is a strength. I need to help & support those that leads the organisation & strategy, not be the big leader or strategizer my self. This transition is massively helped by the fact that Lopo and I get along very well, and through a very open discussion atmosphere we get everything on the table and leverage our different backgrounds and perspectives. I'm looking very much forward to the Wahanda journey, this will be both very fun and very big. And I might even learn a few beauty tips along the way.

Why I’m involved with Kirkeweb

Three months ago, I heard about a small company in Copenhagen called Kirkeweb, which is Danish for Churchweb. Religion is always an exciting topic (too exciting for some!), but the key reasons why I got interested in the Kirkeweb story was, that the company was a start-up focusing on a clear niche (Churches) in a highly fragmented "industry" (most parishes and deaneries are fairly independently run organizations) where the need for a work flow management system is very clear, but no-one else in Europe seems to understand how to build and market to this highly specialized sector. I met the founder and CEO, Christian Steffensen, and then I quickly became hooked on getting involved. Christian could explain clearly how churches has significant benefits from using the system to streamline administration processes, internal communication & coordination, web site management, etc. and thereby have more time/resources to focus on the core tasks of the church (Love!). So, all the classic benefits of good work flow systems were also clearly seen in this "industry", and on top of that Christian through his long history with the church (programming church websites and admin systems since he was 11 years old) knew how to interact with the church community. Also (and Christian will hate me for writing this), Christian is a smart cookie who is a proper entreprofessional mixing the best of entrepreneurship with the desire to do things in a smart way. This means that since the Danish part of the business is doing really well with critical scale of churches signing up, then it is now becoming important to move out of tiny Denmark. Kirkeweb is engaging with the Church community in Germany, the first churches has signed up and much more is coming. This ticks the last box for me, since my background and skill set is a great fit to help Kirkeweb and Christian in the coming years as Churches all over Europe will see the benefits of easy-to-use Church Management Software. I joined Kirkeweb as chairman/bestyrelsesformand in April, and I think this is the beginning of a long and fruitful journey, amen!

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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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: 28May2012 005 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: KNpresentWP12 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: WP2012teamevent1 WP2012teamevent3 WP2012teamevent2 Some people (the Celts) took it all more relaxed: 28May2012 007 And others put in an effort and won: WP2012winnerteam 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 ...): BigFishDanceWP2012 But then our very own Mr Beat Box got the Jam back: MrBeatBoxWP2012 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: BalloonGuiness And one in undressing 10 t-shirts as quickly as possible, another very important and high profile sport: Tshirtwinner 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: 28May2012 010 IEtent 28May2012 011 BRtent EStent TechWP2012 NLtent 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: TalentIntroWP2012 UK marketing doing Bollywood dancing: 28May2012 012 Brazilian samba: BRsamba Who says Finance can't dance: FinancedanceWP2012 UK Sales doing the Haka: UKHageWP2012 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: TeamCowWP2012 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: PiggyWinnerWP2012 And after that no more team building or award ceremonies, JUST PARTY: HappyESWP2012 MarketingEnthusiasmWP2012 WP2012dance2 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.

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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