As experienced restaurateurs, Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice were acutely aware of the pain points of their business.
“The most challenging part of being a restaurateur in Egypt has been sourcing the supplies due to the inefficient and inconsistent supply chain in our part of the world,” says Mr Amer, a restaurateur with nearly 25 years of experience.
“I have waited for years for a Sysco type company to open in Egypt but it didn’t happen, so I decided to do something about it.”
The duo founded OneOrder, an online business-to-business platform that facilitates order processing and communication between restaurants and suppliers.
Founded in October last year, the Cairo-based company aims to address inefficiencies and structural problems faced by restaurants when sourcing supplies, such as inconsistent prices, unreliable quality and irregular delivery timings.
“This type of service did not exist in Egypt before,” Mr Amer explains.
OneOrder allows restaurant owners in Egypt to get all their supplies from one supplier rather than dealing with a number of small, fragmented suppliers. The founders did not disclose the number of their existing clients and suppliers.
“My experience in the food and beverage industry means I know what restaurant owners need … it is a reliable, timely supply of quality goods at a consistent price — without the stress of managing various suppliers on a daily basis,” Mr Amer says.
“We believe restaurants should be focused on delivering high-quality experiences and services to their customers without having to worry about sourcing and procurement … and OneOrder is on a mission to materialise it.”
Mr Amer, who started OneOrder with an initial investment of $100,000 from his personal savings, said he deliberately initiated the company during the Covid-19 pandemic. For him, it was a chance to turn an adversity into an opportunity.
“As an entrepreneur, I strongly believe if you are put in a demanding situation, you are likely to come out with the most resourceful and disruptive solutions. The same happened with us while launching OneOrder.
“We saw a huge opportunity to fill the market gaps created by the pandemic … [the] supply chain disruptions worldwide have reaffirmed the need for the services that OneOrder offers … because more than ever, restaurants had to find new ways of shaving their unnecessary supply chain costs and overheads without jeopardising the quality of goods,” Mr Amer says.
Egypt's food market revenue is expected to exceed $162.8 billion this year, Statista reported. The industry is estimated to experience a compound annual growth rate of nearly 1 per cent over the next five years.
OneOrder’s future market opportunity is significant, says Mr Amer, who is also the founder of Egyptian restaurant chains Fuego Sushi and Longhorn Texas BBQ.
Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, has 45,000 registered restaurants and nearly 250,000 unregistered ones, OneOrder said.
The US Department of Agriculture estimated the food and beverage market in Egypt was worth $13bn in 2019 and that figure is expected to have increased “substantially” since then, OneOrder said.
The growth in the market comes amid a backdrop of booming consumption in Egypt. The country's gross domestic product is expected to grow 5.3 per cent between 2021 and 2023, driven by strong private consumption and increasing tourism.
Egypt is also building new cities such as New Alamein, with hotels and commerce expanding across the country — all of which are favourable to the food and restaurant industry.
OneOrder aims to streamline and stabilise restaurants' procurement needs and reduce their overall supply chain-related costs.
It allows its clients to order all of their restaurant’s supplies from one place through an “easy-to-use tech-enabled platform that provides the best possible transparent prices”, Mr Amer says.
“We are providing our customers with a complete magical solution to streamline and reduce all their supply chain overheads, costs and headaches.
“We are empowering them with a tech platform that provides all the data they need regarding their procurement at a press of a button.
“It will also guarantee product availability and consistency, digitising their entire procurement cycle that provides all the analytics needed to make critical decisions based on real time cost data.”
To fuel its business growth, OneOrder raised $1 million last month to expand into new markets and improve its technology platform. The funding round was led by Egypt-based early-stage venture capital firm A15.
“The new proceeds will be used to bolster our technology platform and further streamline our logistics and warehousing capabilities. The aim is to create an unprecedented customer experience through investing in our technology offering,” Mr Amer says.
The founders do not plan to exit the business “any time soon” since they intend to establish a long-term business with a strong foundation.
“There is significant value to be unlocked in this space and we believe we are best positioned to capture that value. We are in it for the long-haul,” Mr Amer says.
OneOrder plans to enter new markets in the Middle East and Africa region in the coming months as it sees a similar potential in other markets.
“I am very excited about the future as our market opportunity is huge. Egypt and the wider region are booming economically, and the food and beverage sector is only growing larger,” Mr Amer says.
“Our strategy is to establish a sustainable business on the principles of best ethics and trade practices. We are not running after short-term success in first few months but working relentlessly to establish a long-term player with global operations.”
Q&A with Tamer Amer, OneOrder’s co-founder and chief executive
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
We will be among the top global players in the food services and supplier industry. Looking at the massive size of the industry, OneOrder has a huge opportunity and we have all the ingredients to capitalise on it. We are gradually building our success journey and we are sure to emerge as a strong disrupting force in the global food industry in the next 10 years.
Are you a risk-taker or a cautious entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature, and I am the kind that likes to break new grounds. I don’t wait for the new opportunities to knock at my doorstep. I prefer to go all out in the market, build the most capable teams, detect the market gaps and fill them with the most innovative products and services.
How do you look back at your entrepreneurial journey?
My past experiences as a restaurateur for the last 25 years have helped shape who I am today, learning from my successes and failures. No school can teach you those life skills and they come very handy in solving business problems on a daily basis.
I always try to be positive and optimistic as these traits are crucial to cement a long-term success.
What successful start-ups do you wish you could have started and why?
None other than OneOrder. I am very convinced with the idea and also very satisfied with the response that we have got from the market. We have some big plans for the upcoming months that will scale OneOrder to new heights.
What new skills have you learnt in the process of launching your start-up?
I have learnt a lot about the tech industry … how technology is the way to solve most of the problems that businesses encounter and make their operations run more smoothly. Especially in the post-Covid era, technology can play a crucial role to empower small businesses, start-ups and ensure that all stakeholders are aligned.
What is your mantra for success?
Be honest and work hard. Nothing on this earth can beat these two qualities. You should not run after short-term gains or quick success. The foundation of your entrepreneurial journey should be very strong to ensure you can stay relevant and keep adding to the market for a long time.
Who is your role model?
Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos in the business world and my mother in my personal life. Both are very inspiring … and a motivation behind my successful journey as an entrepreneur.