- dahmakan’s AI-driven operations platform will be integrated into Polpa
- Further expansion through partnerships expected for this year
Malaysia-based food delivery startup dahmakan recently acquired Thai startup Polpa, a vertically integrated food delivery startup based in Bangkok. This marks the first step in dahmakan’s aggressive regional expansion plans following US$2.6 million pre-series A funding round earlier this year after its graduation from YCombinator.
dahmakan’s three-city expansion plan in Southeast Asia for 2018 has Jakarta and Hong Kong slated for the third and fourth quarters of this year respectively.
Founded by ex-Rocket Internet executives in 2015 – Jonathan Weins (chief executive officer), Jessica Lee (chief operations officer) and Christian Edelmann (chief technical officer) – dahmakan has scaled quickly to establish itself as the leading food delivery brand in Malaysia. It operates on a fully integrated food delivery model, with centralised food production and a delivery system that uses a proprietary artificial intelligence-driven routing technology to batch deliveries.
Since its inception in 2014, Polpa has successfully positioned itself as the market leader for healthy food delivery in Bangkok. Polpa was founded by Dr Julian Timings, an engineering PhD who previously worked with Formula 1 on autonomous vehicles, and Prongfa Uennatornaranggoon, a former regional manager and buyer at one of UK’s leading restaurant franchises, Carluccio’s.
dahmakan declined to reveal what it acquired Polpa for but did say that Polpa was chosen because it has been profitable since day one and follows the same philosophy as dahmakan in terms of affordable, delicious food cooked fresh and delivered conveniently.
“dahmakan’s experience combined with our industry-leading logistics platform makes us an ideal partner to scale Polpa’s operations in Bangkok,” says Li.
dahmakan will be integrating its AI-powered operations platform with Polpa in the upcoming weeks. This includes its machine learning routing algorithm and prediction tool that will enable Polpa to run their operations at the highest efficiency rate in the industry. Ordering is already available on the Polpa website; the app for iOS and Android will be available shortly.
According to Li, the website and mobile apps will be white labelled, with Polpa operating under its own name as it has built strong brand recognition and a loyal customer base in Thailand.
Integration and contribution
Polpa was officially integrated into the dahmakan brand as of March 1. Its two co-founders join dahmakan in executive roles in expanding the company’s regional presence.
“Prongfa and I are excited about joining dahmakan as we share the same vision for the future of food delivery. We have no doubt that together we will build a world-class full-stack food delivery company and a regional champion,” said Timings.
dahmakan hopes that Dr Timings will be able to leverage on his technical insights and experience in autonomous vehicle and driver modelling to further develop its AI-powered logistics platform, and that Uennatornaranggoon’s regional experience in the food & beverage industry will make its menu more exciting.
More strategic expansion
Choosing Bangkok, the third largest city in South East Asia, as its first overseas foray was a strategic decision for dahmakan. Li reveals that Bangkok is one of three cities on the shortlist of dahmakan’s regional expansion goals, the other two being Jakarta and Hong Kong.
“Demand for food delivery is growing quickly there and the city has a lot of shared similarities with Kuala Lumpur. There were also a lot of obvious synergies between Polpa and dahmakan,” she says.
“Bangkok has millions of office workers; high urban density and a lack of convenient food delivery options which makes it an attractive market. We believe it will become our fastest growing market in a matter of months,” adds Weins.
Market researcher Euromonitor International projects that the market for online food ordering will reach 31.7 billion baht (US$1 million) this year, more than doubling since 2014, faster than about 80% growth in the Asia Pacific region as a whole.
Foodpanda’s Thailand chief executive Alexander Felde recently told Bloomberg Technology that Bangkok may have some of the best potential for meal apps in the region.
Though she declined to reveal the size of the market it has acquired with Polpa, Li reveals that dahmakan expects its revenue to grow five times in the first year of operations in Bangkok. While there are some smaller local competitors, Polpa provides better quality of food and a superior customer experience compared to other options, she says.
Weins believes there is potential for similar acquisitions in the near future regionally: “So far, these types of roll-ups have been executed by food delivery marketplaces like Just Eat and Delivery Hero. We see great value in partnering with existing market leaders who can leverage off our operational expertise and technology to grow the market together.”
Li adds that the ‘plug and play’ model it is using with Polpa is something dahmakan is excited to bring to different cities around SEA later this year.
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