Innovation and novel way of doing business is a kind of reality that has constantly been challenging the old and outdated means of business. Business people and entrepreneurs continue to usher in new but doable ideas to start or flourish an already established business.
Talabat is one such exciting and workable idea that has swiftly become a brand across the Middle East. Wanting to eat and surrendering to fast-food urge when the idea of stopping at a grocery store and dragging out the pots and pans seems just unbearable, Talabat is that easy button that must be it when it comes to cuisine. Talabat is a pioneer of the online food, grocery and all daily needs. Housing a wide variety of cuisines from international and local restaurants, Talabat is the go-to destination for food.
Talabat is the one huge food court for many restaurants, so one doesn’t don’t need to go through the hassle of finding restaurants numbers, waiting on hold or getting a busy signal while dialling a restaurant number or getting the wrong order due to miscommunication over the phone. Besides by using Talabat, one can view menus with pictures of all favourite restaurants in the easy to use website and apps.
As part of the ongoing series of successful start-up interviews, Community recently talked to Francisco De’ Sousa, Managing Director Talabat and expatriate from Portugal.
Were you always interested in entrepreneurship?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial environment during my childhood. At the age of six, I started supporting the waiters at my parents’ restaurants by attending to the customers during the crowded summer. At 10, I was counting money and closing the cashiers. That was the beginning of my journey that has grown in several businesses and projects in nine different countries.
How did you start with Talabat? What was your vision when you started out? and how do you see it today?
I started in 2017 and the vision was to lead the Qatari market’s growth and be the market leader in online food ordering. Today our vision is to continue being customer-loved and the indisputable leader in Qatar by providing the most desired goods with the best-in-class take away experience.
Talabat makes ordering food, groceries, and other goods fast and easy through its app and website. Customer convenience is our top priority. Talabat’s operations run 24/7 to ensure an experience that is both convenient and hassle-free.
Have you had any mentors or role models who have influenced you as an entrepreneur?
Yes, my parents. They are, what we call in Qatar, ‘hard fighters’. They taught me that in business, what is more important than to perform, is to progress. That is why I aim for us to work with the mid-term in mind rather than the short term.
Something you wish you would’ve known earlier when Talabat started?
My entire team! I would have recruited all of them much earlier than the day they were recruited. When I joined, we were only seven people, and it took me a long time to form this dream team. Now, we are almost 50 employees. Our current success banks on them and that is why I wish I could have recruited them before.
How do you target an opportunity in the market?
Yes, definitely, it is just a matter of time. To spot an opportunity, you need to be attentive to the market. You need to kick off with small-scale testing to define what can be best offered, then you need to try it out with your own hands.
What drive Talabat towards success?
What drives us is our customers’ satisfaction and the tremendous business growth that we have achieved with our restaurants, groceries, and shop partners.
Any lessons learnt the hard way?
When I joined in 2017, the most difficult obstacle was to grow sustainably while maintaining quality of service. A couple of years later, today I can share it with pride that being one of the few international companies that fully believed in the Qatari market from the beginning, Talabat in Qatar, has revolutionised the entire e-commerce sector.
How do you unwind and handle the pressure of being the Managing Director?
As a Managing Director, there is no pressure. Mourinho, a Portuguese professional football manager, said ‘pressure is living in a place hungry where there is no food.’ That’s pressure. In my work there is no pressure”.
Where do you see Talabat down the road in the next few years?
In 2019, we have had a big impact on community. Talabat donated over 14,000 meals in partnership with Vodafone and Qatar Charity; we participated with Qatar Cancer Society in a strong campaign for breast cancer awareness; we collaborated with Bedaya to promote local businesses. In 2020, Talabat will continue being an agent of positive change in Qatari society.
Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?
Start small. Try to sell your product or service to a potential customer, then learn from that. If you have a great customer, sell more services/products. If you have a great service/product, scale it and sell it to more customers. Anything else, such as price, market niche, communication, your business model, etc. should be totally adaptable. The most unsuccessful entrepreneurs I met were the ones with fixed minds trying to impose their ideas on the market, when it should be the other way around. Lastly, learn more about regional success stories, like Talabat, that started with an original idea with potential, potential that was able to blossom with the right mindset and hard work.
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