Sunday, March 7

Kimberly Yao, CEO And Co-Founder Of CloudEats- A Pioneer Cloud Restaurant Company In SouthEast Asia

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Kimberly Yao is a Chinese-Filipino entrepreneur. She was the managing partner of the largest independent food, beverage and entertainment group in the Philippines for 9 years until the end of 2018. In 2017, she founded Boozy.Ph, the first on-demand beverage delivery company in the Philippines, and 18 months later, it became one of the largest beverage companies in the Philippines. She co-founded CloudEats in mid-2009 and has since led the company as CEO.

Kimberly graduated from the University of Ateneo de Manila, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Management. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Business School’s HBX CORe program.

In an exclusive interview with Kimberly, she said…

That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten: Everything we do as a company must be measurable, otherwise we won’t do it. In a sophisticated startup, things usually move very quickly and there is a temptation to put growth above all else. However, for every dollar spent to be an effective use of capital, every effort must have an appropriate measure and a clear result, as in the advice I received.

The idea of creating something from scratch, starting this business from scratch and making my dreams come true is what motivates me every day. I know I still have to be a builder, a contractor.

Read on to learn more about Kimberly Yao and her journey.

The cloud eats

Tell me about your personal experience and why you started your business.

Kimberly Yao: In 2009, I joined the Food, Beverage and Entertainment Group directly after graduation, where I was a Managing Partner from 2013 to 2018. We own and operate a boutique hotel and resort on Boracay Island, over 6 casual restaurants, 6 nightclubs and 7 bar restaurants. It was a large F&B group with more than 2,000 employees. So I studied in the F&B industry. I always knew that this very traditional industry would have to prove itself in the future, and that’s what I wanted to do with CloudEats – create an online F&B business.

What is your current core product and can you tell a previous story about your current core product?

Kimberly Yao: CloudEats owns and operates online restaurants produced exclusively in cloud kitchens, which we also own and operate. Online restaurants are listed on food delivery platforms like GrabFood and Foodpanda. All restaurant brands and menus are created and developed in-house. We do not work with foreign brands.

How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the last funding cycle?

Kimberly Yao: In the launch cycle that concluded early this year, we raised $1.65 million.

How did you engage users and what strategy did you use to grow your business from the beginning to now?

Kimberly Yao: We work with food distribution platforms like GrabFood, Foodpanda and Lalafood to bring more transparency and visibility. Customers are already on the platforms. We make sure we are well ranked, that we have good food that generates excellent reviews and high redemption rates, and that we create quality content like visuals and food ads.

What do most startups get wrong with marketing in general?

Kimberly Yao: In my opinion, marketing is not just about spending money to attract customers. Yes, there is a formula. It’s also about creating brands that resonate with audiences, developing a story that consumers can identify with, and offering a product they love.

What internal decision-making processes determined the start of fundraising and what were the logistics of this? And how many investors did you meet, how did you meet them, and which channels served you best?

Kimberly Yao: We were looking for investors to help us develop the business. Strategic investors who have joined our company are families/companies with real estate interests who can help us provide kitchen space, and F&B families who can help us set food prices and learn other lessons from the restaurant industry.

How do you plan to expand globally?

Kimberly Yao: We plan to actively expand in several countries in Southeast Asia.

How do you deal with the COWID 19 epidemic to ensure the survival of your business?

Kimberly Yao: We are fortunate to be able to sell food that is considered essential to life. Therefore, our company has continued to operate throughout this period without being held back by the pandemic and the strict control measures. Our order volume is also constantly increasing, even though we are working fewer hours than before the lockout. We plan to continue this growth as meal delivery becomes the norm.

What is the best advice you have ever received? And what advice can you give to someone who wants to do similar things with you, or go in a similar direction?

Kimberly Yao: That’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten: Everything we do as a company must be measurable, otherwise we won’t do it. In a sophisticated startup, things usually move very quickly and there is a temptation to put growth above all else. However, for every dollar spent to be an effective use of capital, every effort must have an appropriate measure and a clear result, as in the advice I received.

How do you stay motivated every day

Kimberly Yao: The idea of creating something from scratch, starting this business from scratch and making my dreams come true is what motivates me every day. I know I still have to be a builder, a contractor.

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