Just-Eat managing director David Buttress, group CEO Klaus Nyengaard and CFO Mike Wroe started knocking on investors’ doors in January this year. By July, Just-Eat had signed a £10.5m investment deal with London-based Index Ventures – making it the single biggest deal in the food sector since the start of the credit crunch. The business was valued at £30m, with Index taking a 30 per cent stake. Buttress says the lion’s share of the money will be spent on marketing the brand to Brits. He’s already appointed Hooper Galton, the creative agency behind Rightmove.co.uk’s See More ads.
“We expect to launch the company’s first major TV marketing campaign in quarter four of this year,” he says. “Our aim is to sign up 8,000 restaurants to our service – that’s a third of the UK market.” UK turnover currently stands at £3m and Buttress expects the business to be in the black by 2011.
Just-Eat is also teetering on the brink of international expansion. When Canadian entrepreneurs Rob Howe and David Power decided to set up an online takeaway service, they got in touch with Just-Eat. That conversation ended up in a joint venture, with Just-Eat launching in Canada this month. Norway’s next on the agenda and the company is already eyeing the US market.
Buttress believes the UK could learn a lot from the boys across the pond. “Entrepreneurialism is really encouraged in the States,” he says. “The education system here is too conservative. Children are pushed straight into the professions. ‘Business classes’ sound so stuffy and formal, so why not have ‘ideas classes’ instead? Let’s get children chatting about the next Google, the next Facebook, the next Just-Eat.”
When bright young things do come up with great ideas, there’s no support from government. “The simple reality is that entrepreneurs are motivated by reward,” continues Buttress. “Gordon Brown positions himself as a friend of business but then he goes and penalises entrepreneurs through capital gains tax. Who would I pick to lead Britain out of recession? Anyone But Brown. That’s my slogan.”
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