In 2017, food delivery start-up dahmakan closed more than USD2 million in follow-up funding after its USD1.3 million seed round back in February 2017.
It is also the first start-up from Malaysia to be accepted into Y Combinator, a famed start-up accelerator that provides seed funding for start-ups, introduce them to later stage investors and acquirers as well as work closely with these start-ups on their ideas.
What makes dahmakan so popular and innovative? Other food delivery services work with restaurants but dahmakan manages everything in house, from the cooking in its centralised kitchen to the dispatching, payment and the digital side of things.
The idea came from Jonathan Weins and Jessica Li, who both used to work for the Hong Kong team of another popular food delivery system in Asia. The third co-founder Christian Edelmann was roped in later to bring the concept to reality.
“We had always wanted to create a business that added value to a lot of customers and make their everyday lives better,” says Weins.
In the early days, dahmakan started out in a small apartment using the kitchen and public transportation for delivery. Word got around and the business presented a huge potential. The new concept quickly took off and dahmakan started getting more orders.
dahmakan is now processing more than 1,000 daily orders – and this is just in Malaysia alone. It will only be a matter of time where the delivery service will find its footing in other parts of Southeast Asia.
“We want to be in every major city in Southeast Asia with a lot of different product offering all with the same vision to make food delivery an everyday experience in the next few years,” says Weins.
The start-up’s digital slant to its business model also makes it unique. “What would have required a lot of manpower in our operations in terms of production and delivery can now be easily done automatically in large parts. This helps us be much more efficient and therefore, can afford to offer customers a much more affordable everyday product,” says Weins.
Having grit and seeing things through, having the flexibility to explore and try different options and just working really, really, really hard are what’s necessary for a great entrepreneur.
It wasn’t smooth sailing in the earlier years for the company. An initial challenge? Assembling a team that believes in the vision. Then it was all about finding the initial customers who would actually pay for the services, constantly having to improve on the product and making sure there is a demand for it. Of course, fundraising was another issue to help the business grow and expand.
Weins’s advice on how to get over these common start-up challenges? “You have to just get started! Everything you need to know, you can learn on the way. Don’t be scared to ask for help. A lot of people have great ideas but just never have the courage to take the first plunge and get started – that’s probably the hardest part.”
The most important skill one must have to start a business, according to Weins? “Resilience, flexibility and a great work ethic. Having grit and seeing things through, having the flexibility to explore and try different options and just working really really really hard are what’s necessary for a great entrepreneur.”
FOUR THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WORKING IN A START-UP
Jonathan Weins spills the beans:
#1 Be bold and take risks. Be very comfortable navigating the unknown.
#2 Ask for help and advice as much as possible. Help is usually free!
#3 Work harder than anyone else on problems that nobody is willing to solve.
#4 Be resourceful and think of how you can do more with less