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Providing a one-stop lifestyle service for overseas Chinese communities

Providing a one-stop lifestyle service for overseas Chinese communities

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HungryPanda was founded in 2017 by a University of Nottingham student called Kelu (Eric) Liu. He found it difficult to order food from local Chinese restaurants so he decided to start his own food delivery service for the Asian community. He initially delivered the orders himself. HungryPanda is now one of the largest Asian food delivery platform worldwide, operating in over 80 cities across 10 countries. Liu tells us more about the company’s progression. 

Tell us a bit more about your business and how it started.

HungryPanda is the largest Asian food delivery platform worldwide, operating in over 80 cities across 10 countries. Founded in 2017, HungryPanda aims to fix a takeaway problem for the overseas Asian community, to solve the language barrier for customers and merchants.

How has the business grown since it started and how did you ensure growth?

Starting from Nottingham, the United Kingdom, HungryPanda soon expanded to many British cities. In 2018, HungryPanda launched business in Italy, France and New Zealand. HungryPanda entered the US and Australia markets in 2019. After receiving B-round investment in 2020, we also launched our business in Canada.
Until now, we have secured more than US$220 million investment and have accumulated 3.5 million registered users, working with 60,000 restaurants and 40,000 drivers worldwide.

Over the past four years, HungryPanda has achieved a 2,435% growth and ranks in the 2021 UK Technology Fast 50 as the only food delivery platform.

HungryPanda differs from competitors by our laser focus on authentic Asian food and the overseas Asian community, with a better understanding about the preference of Asians. In addition, we have expanded our grocery and group buying business to provide a comprehensive product and service for customers.

What’s the business’ approach to management?

As a technology start-up, HungryPanda has a unique team structure. Teams work closely together and every unit can also operate independently – hence each unit is duplicable and movable. Such a structure design allows for flexibility, as well as assurance in operations. We can shift our best and most experienced team around the globe to expand markets, which can be developed extremely efficiently and in as little as two weeks.

What is your company’s vision and goal?

Our initial purpose is to provide the best and authentic Asian food for overseas Chinese communities and improve the digitalisation of overseas Asian merchants.
But now, we do not only satisfy the food delivery service. We are committed to providing a one-stop lifestyle service for overseas Chinese communities and local residents by adding more lifestyle services, including Asian grocery delivery, vouchers and convenient services for restaurants, massage stores, education institutes and travel agencies.

What kind of clients and market do you serve?

For users, overseas Chinese are our main customers, as we provide authentic Asian food, especially Chinese food. However, we have also launched an English version, to satisfy local residents who love Asian food.

We collaborate with 90% of local Chinese restaurants and Asian restaurants. For our grocery business, we partner with local fresh food vendors for daily fresh meat, vegetable and fruit demands; for our group buying business, we work with overseas Asian merchants, including education, message and travel.

What has your career looked like so far?

I started HungryPanda in 2017 while attending the University of Nottingham as a computer science major. Even though there were a lot of Chinese restaurants in the city, other Chinese students and I found it quite difficult to order from them. The English translation of traditional dishes were altered and unrecognisable; I wanted to fix this and build an app that allowed Chinese students to obtain authentic Asian food on demand. In the beginning, I didn’t have the budget to develop an advanced delivery system, so I operated the system and delivered orders myself.

I feel very lucky that my university believed in my vision and gave me the confidence and resources to bring HungryPanda to life. In 2020, the team and I received US$90 million in investments to continue expansion. Today, HungryPanda is the largest Asian food delivery platform in the world. I have felt the same passion for HungryPanda as I did when I first started; after several years of growth, it has become my responsibility to better help the Asian community with the help of my employees, merchants and riders.

How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge?

Teamwork and inclusivity are very important to me. Every new employee is assigned to a buddy, who is experienced and serves as a mentor throughout the first several months. The buddy programme is a way to ensure new staff feel valued, understood and supported. Another way I equip staff with skills and knowledge is by motivating and celebrating their achievements and allowing them time to enrich knowledge and pursue their dreams and hobbies. I feel this extra time increases creativity, productivity and allows for a better work/life balance.

Many HungryPanda employees have been with me from the beginning; I feel fortunate to have their continued support and shared professional and personal growth.

How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard?

Maintaining good communication has been essential for company development. And truly listening to each other is the secret to being heard.

Our C-suite team is quite excellent. They come from big companies with advanced management ability and professional insights. However, important decisions are not made by one person. Group collaboration sets us apart from our competitors and guarantees growth.

How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?

The team structure at HungryPanda is unique; teams work closely together, however, every unit can also operate independently – hence each unit is duplicable and movable. Such a structure design allows for flexibility, as well as assurance in operations. I can shift our best and most experienced team around the globe to expand markets, which can be developed extremely efficiently; oftentimes in as short as two weeks. I rely on the HR team to hire individuals who can easily adapt and support different departments to ensure working efficiency and solving working problems timely.

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