NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – Are you hungry but too tired to cook? Working late and have no time to pass by your favourite restaurant? Craving some delicious lamb chops or gourmet burger and you cannot make them as good as restaurants do? Throwing a random party and there is no food to serve your guests? – HelloFood has you covered.
It is midday of a windy day in May, Arnaud Foubert and I settle on the expansive balcony on the sixth floor of Kaka House.
Foubert, in a light blue shirt and jeans, is marking his sixth month as the Managing Director of Africa Internet Group’s HelloFood Kenya.
His last job was in The Caribbean where he worked at a restaurant as the Food and Beverage manager. This, he says, gave him insights into understanding what happens before food is set on a customer’s table; a lesson that is proving important in his new position.
Since HelloFood’s entry into the country in 2012, the food delivery company has distinguished itself through its unique services.
The company operates through a website which is a marketplace for restaurants and customers to connect.
“Our service is really simple. Customers log into our website, choose their preferred restaurant, browse through the restaurant’s menu and place their order from the comfort of their home or office. HelloFood then delivers the food to the customer,” Foubert said.
HelloFood, which is also known as FoodPanda in Europe and Asia, is in 50 countries globally, 11 in Africa such as Nigeria, Tanzania and Egypt. The global franchise recently announced that its international investors, Goldman Sachs and Rocket Internet, had injected US $100 million to strengthen and expand its food delivery activities.
The company is already becoming a household name in Nairobi battling competition from several other entrants into the market.
“Our strength lies in our business model. We have studied our market well enough to know what the customers want and we know how to give it to them. For instance, Kenya’s emerging middleclass, which is our primary target market, demands quality products and is willing to spend on extravagant food,” Foubert says.
The middleclass, as Foubert further explains, also loves variety. This is delivered through the variety of restaurants listed on the website. There are currently over 150 restaurants posted on the website. These include The Big Square, Debonairs Pizza, Sub Zone and The Legend among others.
Food is HelloFood’s main business.
The company lists dozens of menus of restaurants which cater to as many food types as possible. These include continental food, Chinese food, Indian food, cake and pastries among others. The company also delivers beverages including alcoholic drinks.
Apart from having their food sold and delivered, listed restaurants also enjoy other advantages.
“We give visibility to restaurants which could probably not have been found otherwise. There are hundreds of restaurants online; coming down to one requires a lot of digital marketing on the restaurant’s part. We relief them of that by listing them in one place that is extremely visible,” Foubert says.
The business has however had its fair share of challenges.
“Time taken to deliver the food to a customer’s door step is one of our biggest challenges. Most customers want food in the shortest time possible. This is not always the case due to varying factors,” he explains.
Foubert also states that customer experiences are different and harmonizing all those experiences to deliver those needs is a bit of a challenge.
Moving forward, Foubert, a German national says that HelloFood’s future prospects are exciting. Apart from establishing its services further into the country by setting up in other big cities in the future, the company also hopes to increase the number of restaurants on its portal.
Foubert also takes the opportunity to express his fondness of Kenya at a professional level. “Kenya’s environment is very conducive for starting a business. Anything can thrive here if you think it through. That is why I have a conviction that HelloFood will do much more.”
He also adds that at a personal level, Kenya is so far his favourite African country to work in and live in. “I have worked in other African countries in the past, but Kenya has really stood out for me. The people are very friendly, the weather is so good and there is so much to do here,” concludes the 36 year old Skema graduate of Business Management.