Kimberly Yao, CEO And Co-Founder Of CloudEats- A Pioneer Cloud Restaurant Company In SouthEast Asia
Kimberly Yao is a Chinese-Filpino entrepreneur. She was a Managing Partner of the largest stand-alone food, beverage, and entertainment group in the Philippines for 9 years until the end of 2018. She founded Boozy. Ph, the first on-demand beverage delivery company in the Philippines in 2017, and exited to one of the largest beverage companies in the Philippines after 18 months. She then co-founded Cloud Eats in mid-2019 and has since been leading the organization as the CEO.
Kimberly graduated Cum Laude from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in BS Management. She graduated with Honors from Harvard Business School’s HBX CORe Program.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Kimberly says:
Please tell me about your personal background and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Kimberly Yao: I joined a food, beverage, and entertainment group in 2009 right out of college, where I was a managing partner from 2013 to 2018. We owned and operated a boutique hotel and resort on Boracay Island, over 6 casual dining restaurants, 6 nightclubs, and 7 restaurant bars. It was a large F&B group with over 2,000 employees. So my background is really in brick and mortar F&B. I always knew that this very traditional industry needed to future proof itself, and that’s what I set out to do with CloudEats – create an online-only F&B company.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Kimberly Yao: CloudEats owns and operates online, delivering only restaurants produced in the cloud kitchens that we also own and manage. The online restaurants are listed on the food delivery platforms such as GrabFood and Foodpanda. All restaurant brands and menus are created and developed in house. We do not work with 3rd party brands.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Kimberly Yao: We raised $1.65m in the seed round that we closed earlier this year.
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Kimberly Yao: We work with food delivery platforms such as GrabFood, Foodpanda, and Lalafood to gain traction and visibility. The customers are already on the platforms. We are making sure that we rank high, have good food resulting in great reviews and repurchase rates, and create high-quality content like food visuals and promotions.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Kimberly Yao: In my opinion, marketing is not just about spending money to acquire customers. Yes, there is a formula. It is also about creating brands that resonate with the audience, developing a story that customers can relate to, and providing a product that they come to love.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fund-raising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors, and which channels worked best for you?
Kimberly Yao: We looked for investors who could help the business grow. The strategic investors that came into our business are families/companies with interests in real estate to help us secure spaces for the kitchens and families involved in brick and mortar F&B, who can help us with food cost and other learnings from the restaurant industry.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Kimberly Yao: We plan to expand aggressively across several countries in Southeast Asia.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Kimberly Yao: We are very fortunate to be selling food, which is classified as an essential good. Therefore, our business has continued to operate this entire time without closing down for the pandemic and the strict lockdowns. Our order volumes have also been steadily growing despite operating for lesser hours than before the lockdown. We plan to continue riding this growth as food delivery becomes the norm.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Kimberly Yao: One of the best advice I have received is, “Everything that we do as a business needs to be measurable, or else we don’t do it.” Being in a hypergrowth startup, things tend to move very quickly, and there is a temptation to prioritize growth over anything else. However, as in the advice that I received, every effort, every dollar spent must have a corresponding measure and clear result for it to be an efficient spend of capital.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Kimberly Yao: The idea of creating something out of nothing, starting this business from scratch, and achieving my dreams is what keeps me motivated every day. I know I was always meant to be a builder, an entrepreneur.