HHL export hit: Entrepreneurial Culture

He is co-founder and managing director of the successful food-tech startup Redi: HHL alumnus Maximilian Mayer hosts this year’s London Chapter Meeting with HHL’s Dean on April 5, 2018

What took you to London after finishing your MBA studies at HHL?

I worked in London for a Family Office/VC during my studies at HHL. My later co-founder Philipp Petrescu asked me to join him in consulting an Israeli Family Office. We met for the first time at the Accelerate@HHL conference, to which I had  invited him as a speaker in 2o15. This brought us to starting Redi together in Summer 2016. Before that, I had to finish my MBA first, went for a term abroad at Queens University in Canada which is why it took us a while to finally start off.

How did you come up with the idea of Redi?

The Family Offices HQ was based in Camden Market which is a food and tech hub and we had the same problem for breakfast, lunch and dinner: Discovering new restaurants, long queues, inefficient operations/payment systems and no digital takeaway experience (i.e. loyalty systems being stamp cards). Maybe for the ones that don’t know yet: Redi is a click & collect app changing how busy Londoners order their daily breakfast, lunch and coffee. Users order and pay for their takeaway via a mobile application and simply collect their food at the chosen restaurant. Doing so, they save precious time and money: not having to wait in queues or for their food to be prepared and benefitting from an app-wide loyalty system as well as exclusive promotions. Since our launch 1 year ago, we served over 25,000 customers, partnered with chains like takeaway giant Wasabi and raised $1.5M seed investment to scale across London. As a platform on the restaurant side, we enable our partners to increase brand visibility, revenue and customer retention while optimizing kitchen capacity and store operations. In total almost 200 mostly quick-service restaurants (QSR) work with us at the moment, which makes it the largest click & collect business in central London.

What are the benefits of London regarding the foundation of a startup?

I guess the biggest advantage is the high affinity towards risk which is good for fundraising and also the large network of people interested in technology. This affinity attracts a large network of VCs, angel investors and entrepreneurs, even though the size makes the whole atmosphere less “familiar” than in Berlin. Even though the UK is geographically closer to Europe, at the same time it’s more comparable to the US in that sense. Furthermore, the city attracts a lot of young talent which leads to comparably low salaries – good from my point of view at least! One would think because London is very expensive – think of cost of living, rents etc. – the salaries would be higher as elsewhere but at least for entry positions which are mostly needed in an early stage start-up, this is not the case. Being a hyper-local marketplace, we also benefit from a large audience of possible customers and as technology plays a large role in the everyday life here, people are generally more open to use our applications than they would be for example in Germany.

From which competencies you acquired at HHL do you benefit the most as founder and managing director of Redi?

My studies definitely prepared me for both taking the right decisions and prioritising.

One competence which everyone at HHL knows very well about is working under pressure. Furthermore, presentations: Building a well-structured pitch-deck and the ability to convincingly present in front of a group of people – whichever it may be – is as important as the content itself for raising funds. I think what needs a lot of attention are leadership lectures and it is great that this will now be even more anchored with the Leipzig Leadership Model. Even though I always tried to take ownership of the projects during my time at HHL – probably every single one of my fellow students can tell you a thing or two about this – the biggest challenge for me was hiring the right people and managing them afterwards.

To what extent did the HHL Alumni network help you with your career start abroad?

The HHL Alumni-Network helped me more during my time in Berlin (before London) where the chapter is much bigger, and I met a lot of alumni through the network. Many of them successfully founded their own company already and could give me invaluable tips for Redi and my start in London because they had spent some time there. It’s also a rather small HHL Alumni chapter here in London yet – which will hopefully change in the future!

You are this year’s host of the London Chapter Meeting with HHL’s Dean Prof. Stephan Stubner. What can the participants expect from this event?

I’m very much looking forward and am honoured to welcoming our Dean Professor Stubner and hosting this event in London. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure to enjoy one of his lectures during my time, but we had a few touchpoints at HHL when he moderated a panel at Accelerate@HHL in 2015. I think the Alumni event is a great opportunity for all participants to learn about the latest developments in HHL and having the chance to speak to Prof. Stubner one-on-one in a closed circle. Of course, I’m also happy to share any learnings I gathered while building Redi.

In a glance: Entrepreneuship at HHL

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Photo: Philipp Petrescu (Co-Founder), Nikolaus Fugger (Key Account Manager), Maximilian Mayer (Co-Founder & MD), Archia Akhavan-Kharazian (Product Manager)