Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco Media speaks to Andrew Smith, CEO and co-founder of Yuppiechef – NBA Digital Company of the Year.
Andrew Smith started Yuppiechef in his lounge, with co-founder Shane Dryden, in 2006. They had no money, 32 products and 1 brand. Today they have 7 shops, 400 suppliers and their e-commerce-first principle has served them well during lockdown. In this podcast – which is a must for all entrepreneurs – Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco, speaks to Andrew about surviving COVID, the enduring appeal of retail shops, the importance of customer service, the pain of being an entrepreneur – and not eating the spinach plant before it is ready.
Key takeaways from this podcast include:
- Pivoting is pivotal during the “coronacoaster” – e-commerce has taken a massive leap forward in the last 3 months
- Opening a store now feels archaic – but is it?
- Planning in this time means adapting and adjusting every day
- The links between supply and demand have been broken – which presents opportunities to entrepreneurs for reconfiguration
- Be genuinely generous
- Customer service and retention – treat each customer like a cactus in the desert treats every drop of rain
- As an entrepreneur, the bigger the pie you bite into, the greater the competition
- The three “Ts” of entrepreneurship – thinking long term, tenacity and team work
- Scalability – which parts of your business are you able to scale? Those are the ones you focus on
- Success takes longer than you think. It was 5 years before Andrew and Shane drew salaries from their company
Andrew Smith is a Hilton College graduate with a ream of high school awards to his name in everything from poetry and verse to mathematics and science. The Dux student graduated in 1998. Eight years later Andrew and his business partner Shane Dryden decided to sell kitchen tools online. Dryden got in touch with a few foodie friends and, based on their insight into kitchen tools they just couldn’t live without, the idea for Yuppiechef was born.
Something they got right from the very start was exceptional customer service and it is a trend that has continued to be a defining characteristic of Yuppiechef for close on 14 years. They wanted their customers to know that there was someone on ‘the other side of the internet’ who cared. To this day, Yuppiechef takes pride in every one of the close on 1 million handwritten notes that have accompanied their deliveries since the start. Yuppiechef is now a household name, stocking 9 000 products from some of the world’s leading brands and boasting a long list of awards in advertising and website design, including the Best E-commerce Site in South Africa on 7 occasions. Yuppiechef surprised the market in 2017 with the decision to move into physical retail, and with seven stores across South Africa flourishing before the lockdown, Andrew and Shane have successfully pivoted to 100% e-commerce in order to survive COVID-19.