I have been involved with StarOfService
since the end of 2015, so it must be about time to briefly explain, why that is the case.
DING-DONG - It's been a while since I've posted last time, so here's an update. My plan in February was to do research on a couple of project ideas I had, and then to talk to all kinds of people to see where exciting things happened, especially in Denmark and London. The plan was also to move not too fast, since it is easy to become enthusiastic and commit to all kinds of interesting ventures, and then suddenly be fully booked up. And now, I have partly fallen into that trap - but for good reasons!
What is it I want? The stuff that motivates me the very most, is to do great things with great teams. Everything flows from the people on the team, and if it is great people working together in the right, high-performance, entrepreneurial fun-loving way, then amazing things can happen. From these kind of teams flows great products, happy customers and oodles of respect from investors & partners. And that again attracts even more good people, and if the leadership continues to step up, then Nirvana can be maintained for a very long time. That is awesome to be part of, can't get enough of it.
Many people with my background do one of two things:
- Become a classic investor, building a large portfolio of angel- or VC investments. That is very exciting, and you get to help all kinds of entrepreneurs, but my issue is that I don't think I'm ready for such a passive role. Any investor would say that they "add value hands-on", etc., but the truth is that with a portfolio of 15-20 investments and spending most of the time chasing new deals, then they are not really close to the action (and typically doesn't have any real, hands-on experience related to your challenges, but that's another story). And I don't like being distanced to what I'm doing, and the people involved.
- Become a CEO for a big company. Well, first of all, there are not really that many companies based in Copenhagen where it makes sense for me to get involved full time as CEO, and I'm not interested in moving my family to another country for a long period of time. Secondly, the reason why I enjoyed running JUST EAT even though it was a 1,000-man company was that I had been there from when it was a small 35-man Danish company, so I had directly or indirectly hired almost every single manager in the company, and I had skewed the company culture exactly in the direction that I felt was right for the company - and me! Chances are, that if I got on board another company that was already big, then I wouldn't be a great fit for the culture and all kinds of "culture wars" would have to take place (had enough of that in the initial phase, when I joined JUST EAT five years ago). Thirdly, working for one company only would not leverage all the knowledge I have today about leading, developing, internationalizing and scaling companies. That is a skill set that is still a scarce resource in Europe, so I might as well leverage it across several companies.
So, the sweet spot for me seems to be working with a handful of companies in a more integrated, intimate way. Obvious choice. So, that is what I have chosen to go for the last few months. To be more specific, I will spend most of my time the next many years being chairman for companies that are still small compared to their overall potential, and where 1) I believe in the team ("Entreprofessionals"), 2) there is a great chemistry fit with me and the team, and 3) good fit between me and the challenges in the coming years. Geographically my focus is Denmark and UK/London, but I might still do a bit in other places. And I will also be doing a little bit of angel investments with a hands-off approach, but it will be limited with clear expectation management around my involvement.
So far, I have started working with 3-4 teams, mostly companies with a clear focus on a specific vertical, and dominated by SME's that are under utilizing technology. One company I'm co-founding and will spend a very big part of my time on, for the others I will be an active chairman. None has been announced yet, but it will happen in the coming months. All very exciting, especially the project where a team has found a way to integrate 3D pizza printing, crowd sourced drone swarms and big data customer analysis with a social CSR twist - that will change the world as we know it!
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!
Since I joined Just-Eat in the spring of 2008, I have been not only CEO, but also chairman. That is not the right structure for a company, and I have been wanting to change the set-up for a while, but it is not easy to find the right chairman for a company like ours. In the first couple of years it was not urgent to change, but since we did our series B round beginning of 2011, it has become an absolutely must. Luckily, after a very long search period we have finally found our new chairman!
It is with great pleasure that John Hughes
going forward will take an active lead of our board (official press release of John Hughes joining Just-Eat is here
). It is a relief for me, that I have a wing-man of that calibre, who will take charge of a big chunk of the overall governance of the company, which frees most of my time up to focus on running the company together with the Just-Eat the team
. And it is also a great support for me, that I can lean on John's experience when handling some of the strategic issues we constantly are dealing with in our fast paced company.
Just-Eat is constantly growing, in only a few days we can e.g. say that we have partnered with the clear leader in a major European market. All this growth is exciting, but it also adds complexity, and as we add more and more investors/owners to our company, then what is called "corporate governance" with a fine word becomes important.
John not only knows from own experience how governance works, but he also adds a lot of hands-on executive/operational experience from running mid-sized as well as really big tech companies; and he also has a great strategic mindset.
John will be an important asset for our company going forward, and it's going to be great to team up with him as we develop our company the coming years.
Welcome on board John!