Mohamad Ballout, CEO & Cofounder, Kitopi

Responding to an increasing demand.

Kitopi spokesperson Mohamad Ballout, CEO & Cofounder, sheds light on Kitopi’s decision to expand to online groceries in order to respond to a current need in the MENA market. In our exclusive interview below, read how the team uses data to better target its offerings and how it leverages its consistently reliable customer service to encourage repeat purchases.

About Kitopi

We are the world’s leading managed cloud kitchen platform. Founded in January 2018, we partner with 120+ restaurants to help them expand their delivery reach.

We do this by giving them access to our state-of-the-art kitchens (located all around our cities), expertly trained staff and industry focused technology.
Once a brand is onboard, we cater to the entire customer experience journey – from the sourcing of ingredients and cooking with care to packaging and safe delivery,… we even take care of the entire customer experience, making sure customers are always happy.

This allows restaurants owners to focus on running their dine-in space, marketing and menu development.

In March 2020, we launched our groceries vertical called Shop Kitopi – a one-stop-shop for essentials and other food items, we deliver anywhere in Dubai, in 60 minutes or less.

1. Tell us about Kitopi, how and when you launched?

Kitopi is a managed cloud kitchen platform that partners with restaurants to expand their delivery reach. Our mission is to simply power the food economy. We launched the company in January 2018 when we realized there was an opportunity to revolutionize the food industry.

Kitopi’s platform is unique in that it provides restaurants with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure at minimal capital expenditure, expertly-trained staff, and industry-focused technology. Think of it as ‘Franchise 2.0 – we are enablers that empower restaurants to plug in and scale up globally. We’re going where no one else has gone before, and it’s challenging but also very exciting to be first movers in this space.

2. Who/which kind of customer/user is Kitopi meant for and why?

 Kitopi partners with restaurants to expand their delivery reach and help them scale in just 14 days. We work with all types of brands, across several cuisines. Our target customer is anyone who knows how to make good food and is able to market it well. We take care of the rest.

3. What makes Kitopi unique from other grocery delivery platforms? 

Kitopi is a managed cloud kitchen platform and in March 2020, when the pandemic hit, we saw an opportunity to leverage our supply chain to launch a Groceries vertical. However, our plan to launch home-groceries was sped up thanks to the increasing demand over the last few months.

Shop Kitopi is a one-stop shop for groceries and food essentials but what’s even more unique is that we also sell pre-prepped items from our favorite restaurants. So for instance, we sell the zoodles from Right Bite (that people can prepare their own way at home) or chicken tenders from NKD pizza… amongst a wide variety of other items.

4. How has COVID-19 changed the nature of the way people shop for groceries? was launched to solve an increasing customer demand – people didn’t want to leave their houses to shop for food items and therefore wanted to order and receive immediately.

We saw that there weren’t a lot of stores delivering, with some having as long as three days waiting time while we offered delivery anywhere in Dubai within 60 minutes. We feel like this change in consumer habit of shopping for groceries from their homes is here to stay: it’s easy, convenient and makes people feel safe.

Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash

5. When designing the UX experience on the site, what went through your mind?

Ease of use and more information. Our 1.0 solution gave us feedback from the users, so we incorporated the positive ones and added what was missing. We also wanted to introduce a new way to shop – i.e. by “lifestyle” and see if users are open to this type of user behavior. We use analytics to see how users are interacting with the site and keep iterating on that.

6. How important is word of mouth marketing and user reviews in growing this type of business?

Very important. We have a 75+% repeat rate so far, so once a user tries Shop Kitopi – they are hooked. We check each user complaint and work on our internal operations and use this to guide our product selection as well.

7. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs in the region looking for ways to convenience their customers in their day to day lives?

Never lose sight of the business and learn to be agile and move quickly to solve a problem that no one has attempted to solve before. Having an entrepreneurial mindset and thinking beyond just an idea are important values we practice at Kitopi.

8. What is in Kitopi’s future? 

We’re looking to continue to perfect our operations in our existing markets as we continue to expand within these cities as well. We have just onboarded two international, much-loved food brands onto our platform so we’re looking to partner with many more similar restaurants and help them scale across borders. We will also continue to invest in the product, offering more items and ensuring the user journey is as seamless as possible. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on!

"We have a 75% repeat rate so far, so once a user tries Shop Kitopi - they are hooked."