European Business: Takeaway.com’s founder and CEO Jitse Groen launched the company in 2000, the same year that the dot.com bubble burst. How did it avoid the same fate as so many other internet ventures of the time?
Joris Wilton: Jitse Groen launched Thuisbezorgd.nl, which means delivered at home, as a student in Enschede with just 50 EUR in 2000. In 2016, he took the company public for one billion EUR and today, it is worth four times that amount. The secret to its success then and now is both its innovative concept and the fact that the founder has always reinvested the company profits back into the business.
European Business: Just how innovative was the company when it first appeared?
Joris Wilton: Today, there are home delivery marketplaces for all sorts of products so that it is hard to imagine a time before they were so commonplace. In 2000, however, Jitse Groen was way ahead of his time. His platform meant that instead of keeping a basket-full of takeaway restaurant menus next to the phone, people could compare local menus and place their order online, and this is exactly what they have done in increasing numbers. Then, it was revolutionary but now it is almost taken for granted. Last year, nearly 100 million orders were placed through our platform.
European Business: How does Takeaway.com generate its income?
Joris Wilton: We work mainly with participating restaurants that deliver the food themselves. We derive our revenues principally from commissions on the food ordered through our platform and to a lesser extent from online service payment fees. The total value of the food ordered through our platform is 1.8 billion EUR and has been growing by between 40 and 50% per year. We also offer our own delivery service in 38 cities. Of the nearly 100 million orders placed through our platform, we deliver 3% which makes us a major deliverer in those markets. Our fees came to 240 million EUR in 2018.
European Business: How have technological advances helped Takeaway.com grow?
Joris Wilton: The advent of broadband was a major boost. When we first started, people were still using dial-up modems to access the internet and broadband access was still a couple of years off. But the advent of platforms like Facebook also heralded a major change. Up until then, the internet was used more to send emails and find out information than for fun. Faster broadband changed that and between 2007 and 2008 our platform really took off. More recently, mobile phone technology and apps are contributing to continued growth. We also expanded internationally, first to Germany and Belgium, later to Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
European Business: Is there anywhere where your concept has failed to take off?
Joris Wilton: We pulled out of the French market last year because it was not scaling. There has to be a culture in which people frequently order food to be delivered at home. In France, this is not done frequently enough to make the business model profitable, so we pulled out. However, France is unusual in Europe. We have local delivery activities in The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Romania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Switzerland and Israel. Our growth in the last year has been phenomenal and resulted in a fastest growing company award in the Netherlands.
European Business: At IPO the business was valued one billion EUR and you are now valued at four billion EUR. Why should investors be interested in Takeaway.com?
Joris Wilton: Firstly, our management team is recognized as one of the best in the world. At 40 years old, our founder and CEO Jitse Groen is young but, in this industry, he is a dinosaur. Furthermore, the rest of the management team has just as much experience. In 2014, we bought the German food delivery platform Lieferando.de and its co-founder, Jörg Gerbig, became COO of Takeaway.com. Our CFO Brent Wissink has also been involved in the company for a long time and knows our business inside and out. We just announced that we will be taking over the activities of Delivery Hero in Germany, which will make us the largest food delivery service in the German market.
European Business: How have you overcome local differences in the various markets where you are active?
Joris Wilton: We have actually found it easier to run a one-size-fits-all model across all of the national markets where we are active. We have a single platform using the same app, logo and customer service across the board. The sites may have different names but they all work with the same technology. That means that if there is a problem with the IT, we only have to solve it once for everyone. And if we make improvements, these are instantly available to all our consumers and restaurants in all markets. We only offer technology, not the food itself. We do not have to cater to local tastes, that is the job of the restaurants.
European Business: Every business must grow if it is to remain successful. Where do you see Takeaway.com in the next three to five years?
Joris Wilton: As well as growing in existing markets, we are also looking at diversifying. We just acquired a B2B food delivery platform in Israel called 10bis. It is aimed at businesses as a system to finance lunch for employees. They can order through the website or pay with a business card in the restaurant. The opportunities are huge just by cornering even a small share of the lunchtime sandwich market. Expansion is certainly part of our strategy, but our ultimate goal is to be the best online food ordering platform in the world.