Episode 9

What's Next with Kevin Edwards

Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating brands of the past year is Just Eat Takeaway, a British-Dutch dot-com company; in this episode, we enjoyed speaking to Canadian subsidiary company SkipTheDishes CEO Kevin Edwards.

Kevin talks about the lessons learned throughout the pandemic; the effect on their business and independent restaurants.

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HISTORY OF JUST EAT TAKEAWAY

Canadian online food delivery company SkipTheDishes was acquired by Just Eat in 2016 for $200M.

The following years saw several mergers and acquisitions across many international markets of scale-up delivery services. By 2020 UK's Just Eat (which had already acquired SkipTheDishes, Menulog, hungryhouse) merged with takeway.com to become Just Eat Takeaway.

In March 2021, Just Eat Takeaway said it expected further growth in orders in 2021 after the pandemic helped drive a sharp rise in revenue for the year.

The food delivery group hailed an "exceptional" 2020 after posting revenue of €2.4bn (£2bn), up 54 per cent from €1.6bn in the previous 12 months. The company reported three consecutive quarters of growth over the year, with overall orders rising 42% to 588m.

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ABOUT KEVIN EDWARDS

Kevin was appointed Chief Executive Officer, SkipTheDishes in November 2018 after joining the business in April as Chief Marketing Officer. Proving to be a transformational leader, he was appointed to lead Just Eat’s North American portfolio as Skip entered their next stage of global business growth. With over 30 years of consumer strategy experience, global logistics expertise, and organizational change leadership, Kevin brings a depth of experience to the rapidly-growing business and industry.  

Prior to joining Skip, Kevin was the Chief Marketing Officer for the global Movember Foundation, and held the position of Vice President of Marketing for Office Depot in both North America and Europe where he led teams through organisational change, international integration and brand evolvement. 

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PODCAST WEBSITE - www.thewhatsnextpodcast.com

Transcript
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- [Kevin] Hello, I'm Kevin Edwards,

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the CEO of Skip TheDishes.

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- [Karim] Kevin, thank you so much for joining me

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this morning.

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- [Kevin] Thank you for having me.

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Pleasure to be here.

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- [Karim] Awesome.

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So let's start off with this question

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we've all banned for over a year now

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in some form of a pandemic lockdown across the globe.

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I'm really curious about the lessons

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that you and the folks over at Skip TheDishes

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have learned throughout the pandemic

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whether it is about your business, your consumers

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or even people's food habits

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during the pandemic onboarding,

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what sort of lessons you've learned throughout this time?

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- [Kevin] I mean, goodness, there's a lot of lessons.

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I'm not sure we could cover all of those lessons today

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but let me just focus on a few things.

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Look, it is remarkable what a remarkable year

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it has been.

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Certainly, so much tragedy

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and obviously people's lives have been affected

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and have been taken by the virus,

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but the effect it's had on small business

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and in particular restaurants,

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independent restaurants in particular

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is what I'm thinking of.

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When we originally, so it's been about a year.

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So, it kind of rolled along

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and the first part of the year

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and everyone kind of acknowledged there was a degree of risk

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but then when it, the wave of closures

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and restrictions and lockdowns that happen so quickly.

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Back then, I said back then,

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back in March of last year

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we had about 200 employees,

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already employed in Winnipeg, some in Calvary,

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some in Toronto.

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We sent everybody home and had everybody functioning

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and working from home at 72 hours.

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And so, in order, we knew that,

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we had a two, so on the Friday

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that we had this discussion with our leadership team

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and well, what are we going to do?

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Not only what are we going to do?

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What we needed to do was very obvious

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but how are we going to manage?

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And, some of the things that we did very, very well

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where we got our leadership team together very quickly

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to size the problem.

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And I mean, an extended leadership team

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everyone who was responsible for key aspects of the business

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we got everyone together

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and we sized the problem.

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We sort of parsed out the things

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that needed to be prioritized first, but,

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within 72 hours, we were

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we had our entire team working from home.

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So, all of those team members,

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and then, more importantly

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we were able to continue on,

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like we were managing our shift from home on that,

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our shift, but we're managing all of our operations shift

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that night.

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On Friday night.

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So, one of the key lessons for me was that

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the immediacy and getting folks together

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and problem solving as an entire group

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was something we did very, very well.

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We realized early on though, that

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we haven't, we have two things would happen.

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One is that we didn't know

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whether delivery would even be allowed to exist.

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Food delivery would be allowed to exist

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in the early going, if you'll recall,

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thinking about sending a courier

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from a restaurant to someone's home was

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it was kind of unknown

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and it might've been counter-intuitive at the time

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but the fact is

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very quickly municipalities mayors.

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In fact, in this case,

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Mayor Tory was one of the first to say

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"Everyone stay at home, order your food in".

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And the way that we

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led was we introduced contact less delivery

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nobody needed to come in contact with anyone.

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We, so early on as I say,

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we were uncertain, but we were still managing

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we're still managing,

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like we were going to be a viable important to business

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and that's really what got us through

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and then thinking about the impact there were

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that was going to happen for restaurants

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and how do we support restaurants?

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And we immediately introduced that,

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restaurant support package.

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Getting out in front of what we felt were,

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sort of this impending doom

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that was going to occur within the restaurant business

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and we've been,

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we're proud to say we're leaders of that.

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It was a difficult conversation at the beginning

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when all of a sudden you may put yourself in a position

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of being unprofitable for a long period of time.

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We didn't know how long this was going to last

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and so, I mean, there's lots of lessons there.

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There's lots of lessons

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and I think we as a leadership team

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did a good job of navigating where

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there was really no map at the time.

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- [Karim] That is so true.

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I want to flip to a different discussion

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around global market differences

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Skip TheDishes, Canadian brand

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part of a larger organization of food delivery globally.

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I'm really interested if we're seeing,

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if you know of any cultural differences

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as it pertains to food delivery across the globe

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and how it might be different in North America

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versus Europe, versus Asia.

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- [Kevin] Yeah, a great question.

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There are fundamental differences.

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So, there are two delivery,

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food delivery exists in two ways.

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There is what we call marketplace.

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So there are the,

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there are restaurants that traditionally self deliver.

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In particular, if you think about North America

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in a market like New York restaurants deliver,

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they deliver in a very,

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sort of tight radius around their around their location,

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but they deliver.

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So, marketplaces when you have,

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brands locally independence, restaurants on a platform

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and you are essentially, marketing on behalf

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of you're promoting your brand as a destination

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for people to come and select from restaurants

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and then sending them the orders

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and they execute delivery.

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Then there is logistics, the logistics side of the business

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which is what Skip is engaged in.

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I mean, we also provide orders.

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We provide marketplace in Canada, but it,

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the segment in Canada's very small

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but in Europe, marketplace was, I mean

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we're our parent company is Just Eat

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and now Takeaway,

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and marketplace was the vast majority of business in Europe

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and, for a long time in London as well.

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Now of course, logistics is becoming more

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and more important, and it will soon ultimately

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become the predominant part of the business.

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So, there are fundamental differences

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and just in two ways of executing an order,

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we are as I say, we are a logistics business

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who also was able to facilitate what takeout

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and self delivery but predominantly

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we are a logistics business.

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So, our job is to handle everything from

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bringing people to the app

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to select from independent restaurants.

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So chains, national brands and taking payment

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featuring their products, managing the process,

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taking the payments, sending the order,

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sending the courier

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and ensuring that ultimately delivery occurs

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in satisfaction is gained.

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- [Karim] I was going to save this question for last,

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but, I'm last, but I'm going to ask this now.

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You talk about Skip TheDishes being a logistics business.

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So I'm really curious

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what's next for Skip, public facing

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we all see it as a food delivery app.

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I'm really curious whether there's more for Skip

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based on the logistics work that you guys do

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based on the transportation

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and the technology that is underlying all of this,

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what the future for Skip is.

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- [Karim] So to be clear,

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we're a logistics business,

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but as we're a technology enabled logistics business

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at the core of what we do is I mean

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we are a brand, right?

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We are attracting customers to our platform,

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both through our marketing

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and our assortment

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and the quality of our service

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when taking an order, executing it

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and ensuring that, satisfactory delivery occurs.

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But we are also an on demand delivery service.

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So we, we're not looking to pivot

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and begin to, deliver all products across all categories

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and verticals.

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We are, if the business

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or the opportunity is around on demand

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that then very naturally, we could play a role

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in providing service to those categories

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for instance, convenience 7-Eleven is one of our partners,

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we're through the pandemic we've become

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a very important part of their business

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and so convenience, specialty grocery, alcohol,

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there are places that we as a brand can look to

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and where an on-demand delivery service

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would make sense and be viable.

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- [Karim] And one thinks here in Canada

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of technology companies and where they're based

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I don't know whether Winnipeg would be in the top five

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or even in the top 10,

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but Skip TheDishes is a tech company based in Winnipeg.

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I'm interested in the approach

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that Skip has taken in attracting talent

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and with everybody working from home

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is there going to be a shift

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post pandemic in terms of people

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being close to and around the Winnipeg area?

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- [Kevin] Yeah, good.

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Another good question.

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Look, all our team is working from home and has worked

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from home for the past year, but that's not ideal.

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I will be perfectly honest with you.

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We have a brand new head office

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that we built in the,

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in Winnipeg we have an office in Toronto,

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we have an office in Calgary.

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What keeps me up at night

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and many of our leaders is

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what is not happening?

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What are we missing?

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As people spend their days on video calls

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and have conversations over the phone

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because look innovation, creativity

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occurs face-to-face, it's biblical to have

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a water cooler conversation,

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or, let's go over it lunch.

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Can I go get you a coffee?

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Let's walk down the hall, let me drop by your desk

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you can't do that in video.

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So, and I say, what keeps me up at night is

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we don't know what we're not creating

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we don't know what's not being

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innovative there or what innovation is not occurring.

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You just don't know, right?

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You don't know what you don't know,

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but it's safe to say

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like our business would not have been created over video

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and so at some point we've got to bring people together

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and there will be a high degree of flexibility that

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I mean, we can't go from zero to 60 overnight,

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but there will, there'll be,

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there will be a degree of flexibility.

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Also location is become, a conversation

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but we have, we have more than 3000 employees in Winnipeg

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we have an operations team that is all

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in sourced in Winnipeg, our marketing, our engineers

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for the vast majority of our team.

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They are located in Winnipeg.

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Three years ago Winnipeg was not a destination,

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but I can tell you in the last three years,

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as Skip has emerged as a brand and tech,

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other tech businesses have been built in Winnipeg,

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it is not off the radar anymore.

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It is a fabulous city the talent that is there is remarkable

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and dedicated and loyal.

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Skip wouldn't be where it is today if we,

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I believe if we were built any place else

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there's just a degree of sticktuitiveness

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and head down and passion

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that we found in the talent

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that we've brought on board and Winnipeg.

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Now, there was a point at which Winnipeg

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is a city of less than 800,000 people.

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There's a point at which you need to look beyond Winnipeg

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when you're at 3,200 3,300 employees

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we may be getting to the point where,

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and we are getting to the point

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willing to look beyond when it paid

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but not at the risk of shifting

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the core teams out of Winnipeg

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and look, if you were to say to somebody

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three years ago, do you want to move to Winnipeg

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and work for this brand?

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Maybe not three years, maybe four years ago

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and work and worked for a Skip TheDishes

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most people would say, first of all, no

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and secondly what's Skip TheDishes?

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We have definitely emerged

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and we're very proud of the fact that we've emerged

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as a prominent brand in Canada.

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We're number one in our category we are a roughly 50% share

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of the Canadian food delivery business

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and we've become a destination for people.

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They want to come work for us

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they obviously see our, the,

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our efforts around marketing

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and in brand but also the opportunities that it creates

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because we have a fantastic platform

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and a group of incredibly talented engineers.

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- [Karim] Perfect Kevin, thank you so much

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for joining us this morning

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I really appreciated this conversation.

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- [Kevin] You're you're very welcome, thank you.

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- [Narrator] Power your advertising.

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Working with Active International

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enables you to fund your advertising.

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Want to achieve more from your marketing spans

About the Podcast

Show artwork for What's Next
What's Next
Big Ideas and Innovative thoughts on the future of Marketing, Media, Advertising and more!

About your host

Profile picture for Karim Kanji

Karim Kanji

We all need to be thinking about and preparing for What’s Next in order to achieve more - and that’s what this podcast is all about.

We are seeking to gain a more diverse perspective on what will shape the future of marketing & advertising, one 15-minute conversation at a time.

We are excited to share talks Karim will be having with thinkers around the world. If you’re as curious as us about What’s Next, join me and invest 15 minutes of your day exploring big ideas and innovative thoughts.


ABOUT KARIM

Karim has been successfully podcasting since 2010. First with the ‘Social Media Show’ and then the popular ‘Welcome with Karim Kanji podcast’ and a co-hosted show with Gregg Tilston, ‘Welcome to The Music’.

2021 sees Karim launching this new show ‘What’s Next’ with support from Active International where Karim is currently the Director of Emerging and Social Media.

In his role within the advertising and marketing industry, Karim has worked with brands such as Popeyes Canada, Melitta, Ricola, 3M Canada, eOne, Nikon Canada, Jamieson Vitamins, Mark’s, LG Electronics Canada, Muskoka Brewery, Post Cereals, Nestle Canada, Dell Canada, GE Canada, Scotiabank, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Microsoft Canada, and many others.