Interview With Oscar Pierre, CEO of Glovo, The On-Demand Delivery Business Valued At Over US$ 2 Billion When He Visited Kenya.
Earlier today I met with Oscar Pierre, the CEO of Glovo, the on-demand delivery app, and service that launched in Kenya almost 3 years ago. Glovo is a massive business globally with operations in Europe and increasingly in Africa. The business started out in Spain in 2015 and expanded quickly to Europe and thereafter to Latin America which they recently exited.
Glovo has around 10 million customers globally as of the writing. Glovo as a business has also been raising major funding rounds with a Series F of $528 million (€450 million) in April 2021. The business is now valued at over US$ 2 Billion on this basis and is expanding fast! Here is what Oscar and I discussed when we met for lunch with the broader Glovo team:
Moses Kemibaro: So I’m here with Oscar Pierre from Glovo, the major global on-demand delivery business. Thank you very much for being on the interview. So, Oscar, I want to ask you a question. How did you start? Where did this idea come from? Where are you going?
Oscar Pierre: So I started in late 2014, early 2015. To be fully transparent, I was just looking for an adventure to get out of the big corporation. I’m an aerospace engineer and I went to work for Airbus, a very large company, I didn’t fit very well there. So I just decided, let’s just start up something.
I observed what was going on in the US, and how people’s needs were growing in terms of food delivery and I needed to start something right away. So we just kicked off with an app that was very simple in Barcelona in 2015. We basically decided if there is anything people want, they would type it in a text box, and my brother and I got the order and rode our bikes in Barcelona, went to the shop, we bought it and we delivered.
In the beginning, it was just my brother and I and for six months, more or less that’s all we did. We then finally raised some money from local business angels and started thinking about other categories for restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies, flowers, and engaged with local stores. We didn’t just go to the stores to buy something but actually had them as partners and started building a global shopping platform. Since then, Glovo has been growing very fast!
We’ve done a lot of geographical expansion and are super ambitious! When we saw that Spain was working well we then moved to Italy. We started with very little funding and realized we could build one of the biggest tech companies in Europe. To do that, we needed to grow our total addressable market. So we started growing massively fast and expanded to South America which worked well. We then went to Eastern Europe and it worked even better in markets like Romania and Ukraine.
We then decided to try out Africa, starting with Morocco and Kenya three years or so ago. We are really happy with the progress we have made in Africa. In 2021, we have access to much more capital and our markets in Europe are a bit more consolidated so we think this is the year where we really start investing seriously in Africa. Until now, our Africa business has had very little funding. Our teams in Africa have been running and building Glovo with almost no budget and finally, we’re investing well.
Moses Kemibaro: So what is the current Africa situation in terms of markets? And where do you see Glovo in the next couple of years here?
Oscar Pierre: So for us in Africa, we have two regions. We have Northern Africa with Morocco and are now launching Tunisia and Algeria. This region is managed by the Casablanca office in Morocco. We also have the Sub-Saharan region with Kenya and Ivory Coast for the last two or three years.
We like it a lot as we’re seeing great economics, user adoption, and partners — the restaurants are happy, and the couriers are happy too. So this is the year where we’re going to start investing a lot more here in Nairobi where our regional team is based.
We also have already launched in Uganda and Ghana. We are already seeing amazing results, especially in Ghana even though it been only operating for two months. It depends a lot on the execution and the type of partnerships we do with the restaurants. The local team in Ghana is doing amazingly well!
Our big bet for this year is Nigeria which we’re launching in the next 30 to 60 days. Nigeria is the big one with 200 million people at the moment and in 10 years it will be bigger than the population in the US. So you know we discussed earlier that you cannot be big in Africa without being big in Nigeria? We’re going all-in for Nigeria!
Moses Kemibaro: What do you think in terms of the future direction of Glovo? How much change do you see coming in terms of the offerings or the products? Where do you see this going? Tell us about the next step.
Oscar Pierre: So I think we’re tackling our original mission which is very ambitious. We just want to give access to everything in a city which is super broad and includes things that we don’t do at the moment. We are looking at making payments seamless, things like ticketing, or reservations, home services so that if your TV is not working at home, we can help you get it fixed.
These are things that we have in mind for the very long term. It’s similar to the way Amazon started with books, and we started with restaurants. I think restaurant delivery is a great point to start because everyone eats and everyone loves restaurant food brands. We have partnered with food brands and people come to Glovo a lot for that and are quite engaged. For them, it’s a highly recurrent service.
We’re thinking very broadly and our second big step is groceries. Groceries is our big focus for this year. We want to serve both the big baskets and the small baskets. If you need to fill your fridge and do your weekly shopping but also should you need something small in 10 minutes like diapers for your baby we can do that too. We’re tackling both so it’s very exciting.
I think this is the most complex type of e-commerce, doing things like groceries. In every order, you have to deliver a lot of SKUs, a lot of units. The visibility of those SKUs in the offline retailers is not great. Most of them don’t know what they have in the store. If you can deliver, great! If you have a basket of 30 items, and you missed one, the customer will be very angry!
Moses Kemibaro: That’s really great. Thank you so much. I’m really excited about Glovo in Nigeria and what that’s going to look like for you. But more importantly, I think Glovo’s value proposition of delivering anything has a great future in Kenya in Africa.