Egyptian food-ordering website Otlob was founded in Egypt in 1999 and was acquired in 2002 by A15 – previously called OTVentures, the parent firm that has now sold the business to Hellofood Middle East for an undisclosed amount though people close to the matter say Hellofood might have spent something below $15M.
In the startup’s first two years it was sold twice, first to ITWorx and later to LinkDotNet. After rapid growth in the first two years, expansion stagnated through the 2000s. Since 2013, the company has aimed to refocus and restructure, an effort that has been mostly successful.
Rocket Internet acquisition expands the German conglomerate’s global footprint in food delivery. Otlob is now part of Rocket’s Foodpanda Group, which operates online and mobile food delivery portals in 40 countries. In the Middle East, Foodpanda operates as Hellofood.
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n a statement, Walid El-Saadany, Otlob Managing Director said “This acquisition will help Otlob to grow faster and bring in further know-how to help deliver an incredible product”.
Otlob will also use Rocket Internet’s warchest to revamp its app, market itself and sign up more customers and restaurants as well as expand into new markets. Khalil Bouassida, Co-Managing Director Hellofood Egypt/Otlob said the acquisition will cement Otlob’s market-leading position in the massive Egyptian market and turbocharge its growth on joining Hellofood.
Launched in 1999, cofounder Ayman Rashed told Wamda the idea was the result of a changing society: as traffic grew worse in the 1990s, fewer people were able to return home for lunch and ordering into the office became commonplace.
But restaurants were slow to react to the shift – eateries’ single phone lines were intended for calling suppliers, not taking delivery orders – so Rashed set up an online portal backed by a call center which relayed orders to restaurants.
Rashed sold after seven months to ITWorx for a sum he declined to share, but confirmed it was in the region of $150,000 to $300,000. A year later ITWorx sold the site to ISP provider LinkDotNet (which would become OTVentures and now A15) for four times that, according to Amin.