A watercooler moment with Shane Lake, co-founder and managing director of online food ordering service hungryhouse.co.uk
In a nutshell, what does hungryhouse.co.uk do?
Hungryhouse allows you to order ‘hassle-free’ from all of your favourite local takeaways. You order and pay securely online and we then transmit your order electronically to the restaurant. Our customer review system also provides users with a safe way to try new places they might not have tried before.
Where did the idea come from?
Back in 2004, my business partner and I decided we wanted to start a business so we sat down and brainstormed lots of weird and wonderful ideas, and Hungryhouse just happened to be one of them. I think Tony (Charles) had seen something similar in the US, and there is also a scene in the 1995 film The Net where Sandra Bullock orders a pizza online. Back then, it was fairly futuristic!
When did you start up?
How has it gone so far?
Based on all the statistics you read about the high failure rate of new businesses, we are pretty amazed at how well it has gone so far. We have grown fairly organically and have taken just one small angel investment in 2008. In 2012 we partnered with Delivery Hero – one of the international leaders in this space – and that really accelerated our growth rate, thanks mainly to TV advertising.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge was definitely raising capital. When there are only a few of you in the company, it is a huge drain on time and resources and there is an element of luck in finding the right investor at the right time. We had what we thought was an amazing investment opportunity – in fact it turned out to be an amazing investment for our angel – but it has taken a lot longer than we had expected to raise the cash along the way.
How does Hungryhouse differentiate itself from the competition?
We would like to think we embody the entrepreneurial spirit. We focus on tech and innovation, making the lives of our restaurant partners and customers that much easier. After all, ordering takeaways should be a stress-free experience.
What has been the best decision you have made to-date?
The best decision to date has been to merge with Delivery Hero. This has allowed us to take Hungryhouse to the next level in all aspects, especially sales and marketing. It has also allowed the Hungryhouse shareholders to benefit from the potential of the 13 other countries where Delivery Hero operates.
Where do you see the business in 12 months’ time?
We are currently processing about £70m of takeaway orders each year so within the next 12 months, we’d expect that to at least double.
If you had one piece of advice for entrepreneurs, what would it be?
I think you need total and utter belief that your business is going to succeed. People from the outside looking in will quite often shake their head and think you’re mad. Obviously the business model needs to be sound, but if you don’t have total faith that you are going to succeed, you probably won’t.