Welcome to our new series Possible If You Want, powered by Grameenphone, exploring the power and possibilities of the internet. Over the perhaps last 20 years, the internet has reshaped our world. Today, we communicate and connect differently. We shop and consume differently. We build companies and solve problems differently. The internet has penetrated and transformed almost every area of our lives.
This series is about our innate possibilities, the power of the internet, and what happens when we bridge the two. We’ll be interviewing some of the country’s successful technology entrepreneurs and learn about their vision, their take on the power and possibilities of the internet, how they personally and their businesses use technology to tackle some of the pressing problems of our society and much more.
All the stories will be exclusively published in Future Startup and you can find them here.
Food delivery has long been predicted to become a dominant industry in Bangladesh. A growing urban population with dual-income families scarce of time and in need of support for household chores. These people seek convenience. A rapid change in family dynamics across the board. An increasing number of working women. The number of nuclear families is on the rise making it difficult for families where both husband and wife work full time to cook and manage food. All these changes have been identified as contributing factors to a growing demand for ready-made food and take-out culture. The coronavirus pandemic has fast-forwarded that future.
Food delivery companies like Foodpanda have seen an unprecedented growth in the past two quarters of 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic and have become essential services. These companies have helped consumers to stay at home and maintain social distancing and thus helping contain the spread of the virus.
In this excellent interview, Foodpanda Co-founder and Managing Director Zubair Siddiqy explains how food delivery services have turned into essential services for consumers across board amid the coronavirus pandemic, how the internet has transformed our lives and work and enabled individuals to access resources and pursue opportunities that were hard to access before, his work at Foodpanda, how Foodpanda has enabled consumers to shop and consume safely amid the pandemic, and much more.
Since its founding six years ago, Foodpanda Bangladesh went through a number of phases. When it started selling food online in 2013, food delivery was a relatively new thing in Bangladesh. There was a lot of talk but little impact on the market. The total number of players in the food delivery business was a handful. Five years down the line, food delivery is an entirely different industry today. TAAM has grown. Awareness in the market has grown. Hence the number of people ordering food online has seen a meaningful uptick. With the market growth came more competition. The number of players has increased. Food delivery is an entirely different market today.
Foodpanda Bangladesh has also gone through a metamorphosis of a sort. It has expanded coverage. Made meaningful strategic changes such as introducing free delivery for all orders, slashing minimum order value to BDT 50 and so on. It has pushed for restaurant acquisitions. Introduced a new recommendation engine on its platform. Invested in data and technology to improve logistics. And then came the coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed the growth of the company to a different level.
“After finishing my graduation from North South University in Economics, I joined a development organization funded by the US government where I worked for the next two and a half years.
While working there, I came to know about Groupon, a daily deal site, operating in many countries around the world at that time through a friend of mine who was working at the company’s Dubai office. It was a hot topic. We then launched a discussion of starting a similar service in Bangladesh which eventually led to the founding of onestop.com.bd in 2012, commonly known as Oscom, which was backed by German Venture Capitalist firm, Rebate Networks. We knew Rebate had an appetite for investments in daily deals sites including investments in ‘Livingsocial.’ That’s how my journey into the world of technology startup began.
Onestop.com.bd was initially a daily deals site modeled after Groupon. Later we turned it into a marketplace model. It was one of the earliest eCommerce companies in the country. The company was doing well but had to close its operations in 2013 due to some internal challenges.
I got in contact with Rocket Internet in the middle of 2013 – through my HR firm called HR Connections – as they were trying to fill a lot of positions, including the position of Country Director for their classified ventures. Foodpanda was launched in Dhaka at the end of 2013.”