It has been a bit over two years since I joined Delivery Hero (Lieferheld) November 1st 2010 as CEO. Now the time has come to move on - I handed over all my responsibilities as of January 7th - which is not easy for me as I leave behind a company that is close to my heart with amazing people that is on top of that commercially outstanding.
In those two years:
- We build an awesome team of heroes around the world - some of the best people I ever worked with
- We grew the largest restaurant network for online food ordering in the world with more than 30.000 participating restaurants
- We grew to millions of orders with millions of satisfied customers world wide
- We successfully merged 4 companies & cultures (Lieferheld / Delivery Hero / HungryHouse / OnlinePizza Norden) into one coherent Delivery Hero organization that feels like one global team following one vision.
- We positioned the company as one of the global leaders in Online Food Ordering in just 2 years - see as well Financial Times at the end of last year
Now that I move on and Delivery Hero is operating stronger than ever before, I wanted to share some learnings. Obviously we did many things right, but we made as well a lot of mistakes.
What we did wrong:
- In the first weeks we made a mistake of typing menu data from a competitors website - which was stupid as the effort was the same as typing from original menues. We changed that practice prior to launching, but were not finished with a small number of menues. Instead of postponing the launch we launched on November 23rd 2010, as we deemed the risk to be low (mistake). By January 1st 2011 all menus that were available on Lieferheld - and all 30,000+ menues we entered subsequently - were typed in from original menus. In January we learned that we had been sued by a competitor and it took 2 years, a lot of money and distraction to finally resolve all litigation end of last year.
- We bought some smaller competitors which most of the times turned out to be a waste of time, focus and money.
- We were sometimes too confident in our fund raising strategy - but we still raised about $100M ;-).
- Many more mistakes here and there … if people at Deliver Hero would not make mistakes, it would mean they were not trying hard enough. In fact there is nothing wrong with making a mistake, as long as we fail fast and do not have our ego stand in the way of sharing our failure with the team.
What we did right:
- We build an economic model from the beginning, which allowed us to understand our core KPIs - from there on we could compare reality with our plan and focus on the right things to fix before scaling.
- We decided to go global - Germany is by now only a small part of Delivery Hero’s revenues.
- We raised a lot of capital early that allowed us to scale fast.
- We were able to acquire OnlinePizza Norden. JustEat used to own about 18% of the business - now Delivery Hero owns 100%. This was a picture changing event for the company.
- We assembled on of the best teams I ever worked with, which shares the same values and works on the same vision - which we clearly defined. These heroes are the ones that did many more things right in the past and continue to do the right thing every day, everywhere.
About the Berlin Startup Scene
I have been in Berlin now for 2 years. First of all the Berlin startup scene is quite small. That leads to the situation that sometimes a few lunatics are able to scew the perception of the discussion or public opinion.
Furthermore - and this might be more a German cultural issue - instead of being proud of success that other startups achieve, some people mistrust and envy success. This sometimes renders the commentary sections of the local blogs to bizar Troll fests. In case of Delivery Hero, I sometimes wondered: How many global category leaders have been built in Berlin within such a short period, employing more than 450 people around the world? People should be happy to have such companies (and there are some more) in Berlin.
Berlin has on the other hand many things going for it: cheap, attractive for talent, large home market, geographic central location, diverse startups scene that has critical mass, a lot of smart, honest and hard working entrepreneurs.
Berlin is the base of some of Europe’s most influential incubators, such as Rocket Internet or Team Europe (Delivery Hero is a TE company) or others. People tend to complain about those incubators, which I still cannot wrap my head around. These incubators enable entrepreneurial thinking people to work on projects and get in addition to a salary an equity upside. Those incubators provide frameworks (technology, marketing expertise, money, fund raising support) which makes starting a business much easier than funding your own business. So what is the problem? Nobody is forced to work with incubators and everybody is free to choose whether to start their own business from scratch. This whining about those incubators is a bit tiring - grow up people.
P.S. In regards to DDOS Attacks: Delivery Hero is subject to those regularly. They do not impact our user or our business. Stop complaining and accusing competitors - deal with it.