The Startupbootcamp Mentor Spotlight is a series of interviews profiling inspiring stories from our extended network of mentors at Startupbootcamp FoodTech Rome. Today, the spotlight is focused on our mentor Alexander Lobov.
Alexander was a journalist covering Middle Eastern politics as well as financial markets in Hong Kong. He then moved into tech where he spent 2.5 years at Google in Singapore doing sales & marketing and has spent the last 4 years at Uber in EMEA launching, scaling and building both the ride-sharing and food delivery businesses.
Q: So Alexander, What brings you to startups’ world and to Startupbootcamp FoodTech?
I love helping to build businesses and I think the world of startups is very exciting. There are a lot of great people putting their minds to some very good work. FoodTech, in particular, is an exciting space, I love food and it’s a crucial industry that is ripe for disruption.
Q: How could you be value-added for the startups?
I think it comes down to sharing my experience. My experience at Google taught me the value of managing a variety of different sales cycles and building solid relationships with key stakeholders. And my time at Uber has been invaluable – I’ve seen the company go from 2,500 employees to over 20,000. From building the business from scratch during launch to working on regulatory and product related issues, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to build and scale a disruptive company.
Q: What were the biggest challenges you’ve faced while launching Uber in different countries?
Every country presented different challenges. Launching Uber is complicated – you need to understand how Uber fits into the local regulatory environment and the local transportation ecosystem. You need to price and develop the product in a compelling manner. And of course, hiring is always challenging – getting the right people and developing those people into future leaders of the business was tough!
Q: How do you see the future of food delivery industry? What are the trends that are emerging?
I may be biased but I think the marketplace model pioneered by companies such as UberEats, Deliveroo, and Glovo is changing how we think about food delivery. No longer does delivery mean poor quality junk food only. By connecting any restaurant to a capable fleet of independent couriers, marketplace businesses are broadening the delivery experience which heralds many changes. Do restaurants still need front-of-house at all? What kind of data can we harness to better anticipate trends in food? And what will all the efficiency gains lead to?
Q: Any final words of wisdom for the CEO’s of young startups?
- The everyday demands on your time sometimes mean you won’t have space to simply focus and think about the nature of your task. Make time and space to do just that.
- Today is better than tomorrow. Don’t let a fear of failure or analysis paralysis let you unnecessarily put off actions you know you must take.
- Done is better than perfect. Sometimes you need to wing it a little bit to get things happening – but always know the risks, analyze your mistakes carefully and be ready to change direction!
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