Foody: A Cypriot Success Story For Every Startup

by Marios Roussos
Foody: A Cypriot success story for every startup

Every thriving startup has a story characterised by hurdles overcome, victories celebrated, and unwavering resolve. From humble beginnings in garages and dorm rooms to global recognition and multi-million-dollar valuations, the stories of startup success resonate as a testament to the power of vision, perseverance, and unwavering commitment.

Silicon Valley has a lot of success stories, tech hubs in Europe like Berlin, Paris, Dublin, and even London have significant success stories of startups. Possibly services that we use in our daily lives. Different cases and contexts may be different, but business is business, and those who start their entrepreneurial journey can learn a lot from such stories.

Luckily, Cyprus has a few success stories of startups too, with one of the greatest perhaps, the one about Foody- the online delivery platform.          

A birth

It was around September 2015, when Foody was created in Nicosia by a team of five people. The idea was simple, already tested outside Cyprus, but completely new for the market of online food delivery on the island. A web and mobile platform to order food and coffee. In the background, the Co-founders Argyris Argyrou, Michalis Economou, and George Hadjivarnavas had already great experience from their previous venture, in 2012 with Ideas2life.

Back then, the market was crowded with around 11 other similar companies, and the pie was little. Needless to say, the competition was stiff and the team had a crucial six-month period to win some portion of the market.

The mentality and culture of Foody, back then helped a lot to gain more and more customers. In fact, in the first six months, Foody won around 70% of the market. The reason was exactly that, they put their customers and restaurants above everything.  All their decisions were aimed at giving maximum value to their partners, and restaurants and making life easier for the users.

A hero delivers

In July 2019, Foody was acquired by Delivery Hero a global online food ordering and delivery platform based in Berlin, Germany.

Founded in 2011 by Niklas Östberg, Delivery Hero operates in over 40 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The company connects consumers with a wide range of local restaurants, offering food delivery services through its website and mobile app.

Over the years, Delivery Hero has experienced rapid growth through a combination of organic expansion and acquisitions of local competitors in various markets. The company has also diversified its services by investing in related segments such as grocery delivery and quick commerce (q-commerce), aiming to capitalize on evolving consumer preferences for convenience and on-demand services. Delivery Hero continues to be a major player in the global food delivery industry, competing with other leading platforms such as Uber Eats, Just Eat, Takeaway.com, and DoorDash.

The story behind it is quite interesting. Delivery Hero had approached Foody, in the first months of 2019, to examine the possibility of an acquisition. Several discussions followed with both sides going through a due diligence process to proceed with the acquisition. They also exchanged ideas about Foody and the future of the platform, realizing that they had a complete understanding between them, while all the procedures were done most straightforwardly and honestly.

The two companies shook hands and the acquisition was in place. Foody now was – and still is- part of a global family with a similar culture. Argyris Argyrou, one of the founders and the CEO at the time (2019), stated back then “Becoming part of one of the strongest teams in the world is fascinating and a great opportunity for our team to learn from their knowledge and experience and create an even better Foody.”.

The interesting thing is that before Delivery Hero, the team of Foody, didn’t receive any other proposal. When this one showed up, a few others followed.

With almost five years in the market, Foody was growing big in numbers, and the team foresaw that an acquisition proposal was something that was going to come one way or another. But when a proposal comes, a startup has to pick the right deal very carefully.  

Before a startup can be considered for acquisition, it needs to develop a significant enough asset that would warrant a substantial role for its team in the post-acquisition setup.

In Foody’s case, there was this mutual understanding that gave the team in Cyprus the freedom to be independent but at the same time to have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of other countries.


Startup World Cup Cyprus

For the future

From humble beginnings to global recognition, success stories serve as beacons of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. Investors, businessmen, and entrepreneurs can learn from success stories like Foody a lot.

Startups are obliged to embrace innovation if they want to differ from what the market currently offers. Just like Foody, they need to prioritize the needs of their customers, no matter how many times these needs are changing.

Also, cultivate resilience, recognizing that setbacks are inevitable but temporary and that every obstacle is an opportunity for growth and refinement.

With a dedicated team united by a shared vision, foster an environment of collaboration, creativity, and mutual support. Embrace agility as a guiding principle, adapting swiftly to market shifts and emerging trends, staying ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving landscape. Remain open to learning from both successes and setbacks, extracting valuable insights to inform future decisions and strategies.

In their journey, every challenge encountered is a chance to innovate, to learn, and to emerge stronger. Entrepreneurs must stay inspired by the stories of those who have gone before them, stay determined, and let their journey be guided by the lessons of those who dared to dream and succeed against all odds. As the next chapter of entrepreneurship unfolds, may these success stories continue to ignite the flames of ambition and drive, propelling us toward a future where innovation knows no limits. And of course, there is a great opportunity for everyone in the market to listen and learn from other’s stories, at the Startup World Cup, one of the biggest competitions in the world that is coming to Cyprus in 2024.

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