Exclusive interview with Erickson Mvezi, CEO of the first Angolan food delivery startup

Success Code was present at Tupuca facilities, and as said in the title of the interview, it is the first national food delivery startup.

Tupuca was also selected among the top 10 Angolan startups 2016 by Seedstars World Luanda, and although at this point in time they are in the final phase of trials, a rush caused by the enormous amount of request in already visible.

Still our team was warmly received, at a very young and friendly atmosphere, where the spirit of innovation and sophistication are visible in the eyes of each employee.

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In an interview with Erickson Mvezi, CEO of Tupuca, Erickson told us about how the idea emerged, possible areas of expansion for the company, and so much more. Let’s go to the interview…
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Success Code: Hello Erickson Mvezi, first of all tell us more about the origin of the idea that led to the creation of Tupuca?

Erickson Mvezi: Hello! Well, the original idea was not that Tupuca was created as a food delivery application, but a clothes delivery application. We wanted to contact some fashion stores and create a virtual platform that would give them the opportunity to sell. But as a result of legal and market issues we started having some doubts, which at the time forced us to put the project on hold. After a while, influenced by a personal need to always order food, I began to research about how food delivery applications outside the country worked.

It coincided also that one of the subjects I had during my Masters, allowed me to work on any project. It was then that I took the model on hold, adjusted it by replacing the fashion stores with restaurants, and then started doing some feasibility studies and noticed that it would be a profitable thing, and then Tupuca was born.

Success Code: From the other existing areas, why was the food sector exactly the alternative choice?

Erickson Mvezi: Food is a primary need for any human-being, meaning that people will not stop eating. And as the social classes become more affluent, people evolve and the country develops, there is a need for these conveniences. And then this convenience is linked to an indispensable need, because we think that food is vital.

Success Code: Even knowing that Tupuca is a useful application, and having in mind that they need it, people still have some resistance related to the use of it. So what is the marketing adaptation that Tupuca has implemented to solve this issue?

Erickson Mvezi: Correct! Tupuca has a huge focus the digital part of marketing. Once people began to sign-up on the website, we also initiated a process of informing users about Tupuca – from how it will function to application details about the delivery time and the process of food conservation.

But there is still a great resistance from the market, and more than having online campaigns or more than the fact that we see the glow in the eyes of the people knowing that an application like this already exists, they still doubt whether the application will eventually come out or not.

But the application is on its way. That is why we were interacting with the most loyal users so far, and making some deliveries so that they testify the reliability of our customer support, and new segments and features are slowly added to Tupuca, until we reach the final stage.

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Success Code: It is remarkable that Tupuca and its team have grown very fast, how is it to be running a startup like this in times of crisis?

Erickson Mvezi: Today Tupuca has about 30 employees, but we only hire when it is really necessary. We saw ourselves forced to expand to this point, and one of the initial difficulties were always learning to delegate. Because at first us 5 did everything, so it was difficult to move the folders and believe that everything will be done just correctly.

And one of the biggest challenges in times of crisis is to find people who do not only want a job, but who are willing to commit themselves to it. When having a job interview in such times, many people appear, but only because they are looking to cover up some financial need. Finding people who really want to go that extra-mile for the company is very hard.

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Success Code: How would Tupuca want to be remembered, and what is Tupuca’s vision for Angola?

Erickson Mvezi: We would like to be remembered as a young company and a reference when it comes to deliveries – especially food delivery. For we know that if we gain people’s trust with food delivery – which requires a lot of care, we can gain their trust in the delivery of any other product.

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Success Code: You emphasized on a very important point about the necessary care. By the way, what has been done to ensure the safety of the drivers and the meals?

Erickson Mvezi: This is a process that begins in the trainings. The storage material our restaurants already offer. Now from how the *Tupuquinhas take the meals and put in the backpacks, the choice of the backpacks, the material that guarantees the perfect preservation of the food in the bag, how to put or take the bags… I mean, those little details make all the difference, and all grouped ensure that top quality in the end.

We also have the collaboration of the restaurants in meeting the quality standards that the state provides for the confection of meals.

Success Code: Going back to the point of expanding to other areas, is it possible that in a few years we will know Tupuca as the Angolan Amazon?

Erickson Mvezi: Even when Amazon started, it started by selling books. They did not even imagined that they would later be selling bicycles and stuff.

An ambitious business goes where the opportunities are. As we are now making the delivery of meals, we are also analysing the market and seeing what other needs there are. And if it gets on our reach, we will get there… we can even get into space. (Laughter)

Virgin is there making space missions. That wasn’t the initial goal, but the market opportunities showed up, they had the right infrastructure, had the resources, and therefore they were able to evolve until there.

So our mission is to put ourselves in the right vision so that we have new opportunities to catch.

Success Code: On the website it is only available the registration for the application pre-registration, but is there any launching date already?

Erickson Mvezi: There is already a date internally, but we can’t announce it yet. (Laughter)

Success Code: Will we have Tupuca on our phones later this year for example?

Erickson Mvezi: Without a doubt. Tupuca will be available later this month. The date isn’t just public yet due to unforeseen events that can happen in the last minute.

We want to be able to meet the expectations of early adopters, and for those users with a more critical look – we want to be almost perfect to meet their expectations too. We don’t want to walk with a complete car, with the full set of lights, but with only three tires. We need to get everything in place so that we can move forward.

Success Code: What is the message that you give to those people who think that they do not need Tupuca, and so they still have that resistance for the service?

Erickson Mvezi: Firstly, Tupuca is not here to force people. Just keep in mind that whenever you need a meal delivered to you, Tupuca will always be there.

I want people to know that at any time they can always count on Tupuca. So whoever downloads the application and orders anything from the restaurants, can be assured that the meal will always arrive on time because we give this guarantee.

Now, the exact area where Tupuca will be applied is uniquely the user’s choice. Even those parents who need to send food to their children, they can use our services and as the food is delivered they will be receiving our notifications. So this is the trust we would like to pass on to people.

Success Code: Could we then say that Tupuca’s target market would be people active in the labour market?

Erickson Mvezi: Yes, especially young workers and university students… Because those are people who often have only an hour for lunch, and have several other commitments to address during the lunch hour. Tupuca will help them to get a better value of their time.

And the expectation is that this same public passes the experience to the younger and older, because our target audience are the trendsetters of our market.

Success Code: Is there the possibility that one day Tupuca grows to an extent that you guys are forced to create your own chain of restaurants?

Erickson Mvezi: We have thought about it, and other several adaptations. So if the funds allow, why not? (Laughter)

Success Code: What is the message you leave to those #achievers who are willing to start a business one day?

Erickson Mvezi: In the world of entrepreneurship there is no giving up. There are only attempts. The secret is to accept the failures and be willing to correct, and not repeat them again.


*Tupuquinhas – the drivers who deliver the food.

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