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Life in a tech startup

By Sara Okuoro | January 2nd 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Q&A with William Benthall, General Manager of Glovo Kenya.

How has working in Kenya before, albeit in a different role and sector, helped you?

In my previous role, I worked with business membership organizations as well as national and county/state governments in Kenya, Nigeria and other African countries.

I specialized in delivering projects to attract investment and to generally improve the business environment. That certainly gave me a good appreciation of how to run a business in Kenya, and the opportunities and challenges we face.

What benefit is there to working with young talent?

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I came from an industry where I was one of the youngest Directors, to a company where I’m among the oldest people worldwide.

Working with brilliant young people is amazing fun and critical from a business perspective, especially in a country like Kenya where 60% of the population is under 25.

The world is changing fast and the best way to keep ahead, as an individual or business, is to respect one’s youngers!

How has Glovo’s experience in Spain helped you here?

We've made huge efforts to localize our offering and ensure it works well in Nairobi. That said, the tech backbone and our data scientists work in Barcelona. There’s some really clever thinking and execution that goes into delivering food or other products in a matter of minutes.

Also, in Spain we work with the world’s most well-known restaurant and retail brands. All of this best practice and world-class technology can be leveraged from Spain to Kenya and our other 26 countries across the world.

Most technology firms centre their operations around the large urban areas. Why is this so?

There are some really interesting tech companies that are serving rural areas and making a huge impact on the lives of farmers and other people you wouldn’t normally think of as tech savvy.

That said, the sheer concentration of consumers, suppliers, partners and service providers within urban areas tends to drive a self-fulfilling ecosystem. Nairobi has done an amazing job at fostering this eco-system and it’s become a magnet for tech firms wanting to enter Africa.

To what extent has the penetration of internet and mobile technology in Kenya aided your work?

Mobile penetration is critical for us, and Kenya’s comparatively cheap cost of data also works in our favour. What’s also important is that many of the behaviours we want to foster through our app have already existed offline. 

Most people living in Nairobi have the number of a Boda rider who can pick up lunch or run an errand, but dealing with the situation still takes time and stress. Technology simplifies and professionalizes this transaction.

What is the most popular demographic of the app users?

It’s anyone craving convenience. It tends to be people who are really busy or who just want to spend those special free moments of the day doing something that makes them happy. There are so many use cases for Glovo and the challenge for us is to describe succinctly all the things customers can do.

A lot of people know us first as a food delivery company as this is where we focus much of our marketing effort. We really start developing loyalty when people realise that at a touch of a button a Glover will buy anything from any shop and bring it to you for payment on delivery. Condoms are popular, as are pregnancy test kits.

The government has been looking to implement a tax on online apps and businesses - your thoughts on this?

In my previous role I worked with county governments on improving tax collection frameworks. We’re following developments in the space but for now the government has an applicable tax framework in place and our focus is on making sure we are always compliant.

What is life at Glovo like?

It’s all about the team. We have 26 really smart and highly dedicated people working in our Westland offices. There’s a huge belief in what we are doing and you feel that energy every day as you walk through the door.

We want to grow really fast and know that’s only possible if we bring our partners and Glovers (riders) along with us. We invest in our stakeholders, whether that be in billboards to tell the city about amazing offers from our partners, or providing road safety training to our Glovers to keep them safe on the streets.

How do you onboard couriers?

We have an initial training that covers use of technology, customer service skills, road safety transportation of food, among other things.

We then have data-driven approach where we can easily see where specific Glovers need to improve and we invite them in for further bespoke training.

Every Glover receives a compartmentalized and thermally insulated yellow box to ensure hot food stays hot and cold food stays cold.

What is the big vision for Glovo?

To provide a "super app" that makes everything within a city available on-demand. People say to me that Glovo is already changing the way people shop and run errands in the city. It makes us really happy to know that we can bring convenience to people’s lives and help them to reclaim time they would otherwise spend in traffic!  

Entrepreneurship Jobs William Benthall Glovo Kenya
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