Yemeksepeti, a leading Turkish food ordering site based in Istanbul, has announced its acquisition of majority shares in the Jordanian site Ifood.jo. The purchase of the shares, which were made for an undisclosed amount, marks the further expansion of the regional market leader into the MENA – they are now present in eight countries.
Ifood.jo will be the fourth brand to join the company’s expanding portfolio, alongside Yemeksepeti.com, Foodonclick.com, and Clickdelivery.gr. In total the company has nearly 14,000 contracted delivery restaurants, serves to more than 3.5 million registered users, and takes over 100,000 orders per day.
For the startup the deal has been a long time coming. “It’s very exciting news,” cofounder Zeid Husban told Wamda. “We’ve been working on it for a year, it took sooo long, but finally we’re here.” Husban went onto say that not only is the injection of cash going to be of great use to the startup but their 14 years of experience and expertise in the field is going to be invaluable. “It is so much added value for us,” he added.
Ifood.jo, which launched in January 2012, is a market leader in Jordan with a year on year growth of 200 percent. Serving 25,000 registered users, an average of 500 orders per day, and partnered with 250 restaurants in six cities throughout Jordan, they are now looking forward to expanding these numbers. “We’ve not had a marketing budget before and so that is going to now be our main focus,” Husban said, stating that even though they’ve been around for nearly three years many people still don’t know who they are.
“Jordan’s startup ecosystem is in its blossom period,” said Yemeksepeti’s CEO Nevzat Aydin. “It has a young and early adapter demographic, mindful entrepreneurs who want to make a difference, and local and international investors who are keen on the regional opportunities.”
It is just over a year since Yemeksepeti's expansion into Saudi Arabia and Lebanon with FoodOnClick. Before that, in 2012, it was the injection of a funding round of $44 million from New York’s General Atlantic that launched them into the MENA properly.
Entering a new market through acquisition is something that has worked out very well for Yemeksepeti, and for other big companies coming from outside the MENA region. In 2012 Turkish game developer Peak Games bought the Saudi game platform Kammelna, the perfect jumping off point for expansion into the Middle East.
Aydin told Wamda there are two options when entering a new market: either starting from scratch, or finding a local partner. “At Yemeksepeti we've done both so far,” he continued. Local partners are necessary for food delivery businesses, the founder said, but the model needed to be built up from scratch.
When they entered the MENA market in 2010 with FoodOnClick, he says they were lucky. “Like in Turkey, our growth in the Middle East is fueled by pillars such as the growth in food delivery market, increasing internet and mobile penetration in the region, and a young tech savvy population. These factors all contributed to 170 percent growth last year for Foodonclick region-wide.
Things are looking similarly rosy in Jordan, where ifood.jo has the first mover advantage, two talented cofounders, and a solid business model with growth potential.
In order to grow their reach, which also extends to Russia, Aydin said in a statement that “understanding the dynamics of the emerging markets is major to our motivational and tactical force. We believe that with this know-how, we will succeed also in Jordan and help Ifood.jo to reach its milestones and potential. Meanwhile, we plan to continue our global expansion with similar investments.”