Turkish online food ordering company Yemeksepeti has bought a majority stake in ifood.jo, the fast growing Jordanian startup offering the same sort of service.
Set up by Zeid Husban and Omar Akel in January 2012, ifood.jo provides restaurants with instant traceable food orders and the customers with an up-to-date menu plus a choice to customize their food.
Venture spoke to Husban, co-founder and managing partner at ifood.jo, about the deal and its importance to the company’s future expansion plans.
How important was this deal for ifood.jo?
It’s very important because they are not giving us cash investment only. They’ve been in this business for 14 years now and they know the ins and outs of it. And now they process more than 80,000 orders per day in Turkey. It is the added value in terms of expertise that counts.
Yemeksepeti helped us by injecting cash into the company. Now we have a marketing budget. They will also help us with the know-how. It’s the same model and where ever we might get stuck, they will always be there to help. They have also been present in the UAE for the past four years through foodonclick.com. They are in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar, and Oman. And now they added Jordan.
How big was the deal and will there be any changes in management or the brand?
I cannot disclose the amount but they acquired a majority stake—more than 51 percent of the company. They have the upper hand, but Omar and myself are still managing the company as per the contract.
Will there be any change in the company’s strategy?
Now we want to expand. We are already operating in Aqaba, Zarqa, and Irbid but so far our strongest market has been Amman. Now we want to have a bigger presence in Irbid where there is good business thanks to a good number of students and restaurants.
Now most of the new budget will be dedicated to marketing. All the focus is on increasing the number of orders, from 500 today to double this number in six months. And we believe that this is very doable. Our target is also to increase the number of restaurants, including big chains, who are now approaching us to join our network.
Did you approach Yemeksepeti, and why didn’t you seek a local investor?
They approached us. We are the market leader in Jordan with more than 80 percent of the market share. We have deals with 230 restaurants and a user data base of 25,000 in Jordan. Our year-on-year growth is 200 percent.
We approached a few investors two years ago, but [nothing materialized]. I think this deal is part of their strategy to expand in the Middle East. The idea is to invest in an already existing company that knows the market.