The SME Story: Ian Ohan, founder and CEO of Locale
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The SME Story: Ian Ohan, founder and CEO of Locale

The SME Story: Ian Ohan, founder and CEO of Locale

Locale allows foodpreneurs to thrive and reconnect with the communities in which they operate

Gulf Business

You started in the corporate world, but then decided to become an entrepreneur. What prompted the move?
I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spark in me, however I had the opportunity to work with two partners who were more experienced in business, which gave me the confidence to exit the security of the corporate world. That was my first experience as an entrepreneur. We sold the company at the end of 2006 and then I stayed with the acquiring company until 2009, which is when I decided to go back into the food and beverage industry. I chose this sector because it was my initial career of choice; I also like the scalability of the business.

What is the central idea behind Locale and what’s its USP?
Locale is focused on good food, good people and good ideas. It is a financially sustainable ecosystem that allows foodpreneurs to thrive and reconnect with the communities in which they operate. Locale seeks to make money on food – our technology and delivery is not operated as a profit centre. For foodpreneurs this means a true, shoulder-to-shoulder partnership with Krush Brands, the full stack food technology, multi-kitchen and last mile delivery company, we power. This partnership includes corporate support and the use of all our proprietary assets, including our proprietary food technology, the Locale marketplace, our multi-kitchens, our corporate team’s support as well as our professional and proprietary delivery fleet. For customers, this means a highly curated group of around 20 high quality brands in one place – no advertising, no rating etc., just great food.

Give us a business overview of your operations.
Locale currently operates in the UAE, but has ambitious regional and international expansion plans. Until recently we’ve been bootstrapping the growth and development of the company, received our first strategic investor in November last year, the month in which we also launched, our own curated marketplace where customers can order from multiple brands in a single order.
We currently have 300 employees, including our operational team, corporate team and our technology development team.

What have been your key learnings since starting the company?
My most important advice is to be profitable. Wether you are self or externally funded, startups must focus on profitability. Relying on external funding for survival is not a great place to be and may encourage entrepreneurs to focus on the wrong metrics. I believe the days of vanity or growth metrics only are numbered. Investors want and should want profitable investments. The biggest mistake, I made early on was to not track or forecast cashflow. Being profitable is not enough – I learned the hard way to operate on a strict, forward-looking and rolling 365-day cashflow forecast.

What are your upcoming expansion plans for the business?
It is time to grow and scale our ecosystem, both as a whole and as well its component parts. We have been doing partnership deals with very cool foodpreneur partners that will be joining the Locale ecosystem. We will also soon be announcing strategic partnerships that leverage Locale’s food technology, proprietary brands and operational capabilities on a regional and international basis. You will also see some of our early brands, scaling independently of Locale under franchise agreement.

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