Fast food market sales in Saudi Arabia are expected to grow to $4.5 billion by 2015. Although Saudi youth are increasingly inclined to make purchases from global food chains, the vast majority of them still prefer to do so on their own terms, by ordering delivery rather than eating out.
Social life in Saudi Arabia revolves around the concept of 'majlis' or 'diwanya': a casual meeting area in which friends meet to chat, play cards, or watch soccer games and movies. More often than not, these meetings involve food, more specifically people bringing their own after stopping at several restaurants to pick up what their friends are hungry for.
Ebrahim Al-Jassim, a young Saudi entrepreneur with a background in management and finance, is trying to tackle this problem through his new startup HungerStation.com, an online platform where customers can order what they want, from wherever they want, and get it delivered right to their doorstep.
Hunger Station employs geolocation technology to rank restaurants for hungry customers based on their distance from each restaurant, eliminating the problem of knowing what is really available at certain times. The website also provides the option of ordering from various establishments at once and getting food delivered at the same time, though HungerStation doesn’t deliver the food themselves.
The service is available on the web and via smartphone and provides choices from typical fast food restaurants to higher-end restaurants. Ever since their launch in November 2012, Hunger Station has seen a 500% increase in daily traffic and has now successfully expanded to the Bahraini market. In the past few months, the success of Hunger Station enabled Al-Jassim to sign on new restaurant chains such as Yum Yum Tree, Johnny Rockets, and Quiznos.
We recently chatted with Al-Jassim about his journey and discussed how he came up with the idea, who their major competitors are, their current team structure, major challenges he’s faced, and his views on e-commerce in Saudi Arabia.
Check out our conversation in the short video above.