The Asia Tech Podcast spoke to Jason Chen, the CEO at JustKitchen.  JustKitchen operates a network of delivery-only commercial kitchens using a unique ‘hub and spoke’ model and markets a portfolio of both proprietary and partnered food brands.
Some of the topics Jason and I covered:
  • Being born in Taiwan, growing up in Canada, and moving back to Taiwan as an adult
  • Originally trained as a lawyer in Vancouver then got into investment banking
  • Got involved in the Food and Beverage business in Taiwan in 2014
  • The logistics behind bringing US brands to Taiwan
  • The wide acceptance of different kinds of food in Taiwan
  • The importance of brick and mortar experience for running a ghost kitchen
  • The growth of food delivery in the past seven years
  • The evolution of ghost kitchens and operating multiple brands out of one location
  • Data analytics are key to running ghost kitchens
  • How technology truly helps create economies of scale
  • The importance of having a robust supply chain
  • Just how big the market for ghost kitchens could get
  • The global competitive landscape
Other titles we considered for this episode:
  1. I’ve Always Been a Big Fan of Food
  2. Taiwan Has Emerged As a Culinary Hub
  3. It Really Does Turn Into a SaaS Model
  4. It Enables Scalability
  5. You’re Running a Hardware Store
  6. We All Have Our Hands Full

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:00
Michael Waitze Media. Telling Asia’s Stories.

Michael Waitze 0:08
Okay, we’re on. Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Jason Chen, the CEO of JustKitchen. Jason, it’s great to have you here. Thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you doing today?

Jason Chen 0:23
I’m doing very well. Thank you for having me.

Michael Waitze 0:25
It is my pleasure. Before we get into the main part of this conversation, why don’t we get a little bit of your background for some context. Sure.

Jason Chen 0:34
I’m now living in Taiwan. I grew up in Canada, and moved back to Taiwan eight years ago. And that’s when I was first introduced to the food and beverage business. So I got involved in a franchise company owns and operates TGI Fridays, here in Taiwan, Texas Roadhouse here in Taiwan, and in China, and also a couple of our own brands. And Ryan’s and Emraan is in Hong Kong. So that’s kind of my first exposure into the, into the FMB. And how I sort of, I’ve always been a big fan of food. But that’s where I kind of got to know that sort of the inner workings of the business. What

Michael Waitze 1:14
were you doing before you’re in the f&b business?

Jason Chen 1:16
When I was living in Vancouver, I was I was actually trained as a lawyer and then got into investment banking early on in my career, the legal profession was just too much work. So

Michael Waitze 1:27
So you switch to something easier, like investment banking, which was just a layup…

Jason Chen 1:32
Yeah, so I mean, I’ve always had an interest in, in the banking side, you know, finance and dealing with different companies and, and seeing them grow investing in them. So I did that for the majority part of my career all the way up to what I moved back to Taiwan, eight years ago, seven, eight years ago.

Michael Waitze 1:52
So you said that twice. Now move back to Taiwan? Is your family originally from Taiwan? Were you born in Taiwan? Like, what is that history?

Jason Chen 1:59
Yeah, I was I was born and raised in Taiwan and, and moved to North America when I was eight, eight, okay. Yeah, that actually has a has a lot to do with the reason why, like started JustKitchen and, and why we’re doing you know, this, this, this ghost kitchen operation, being having this connection of being born in Taiwan and, and, and, you know, moving abroad, I always and coming back every year, I want to visit I’ve always had a fondness and memory of local cuisine, you know, things, things I grew up eating and, and what what did I always want to do when after I land from a, you know, a 10 hour flight back from Vancouver to Taiwan. After getting settled in the first thing I always did was I wanted to go for the food that I missed for a year that I had been away. Right so one of the reasons for JustKitchen was well like well how do I how do I do this business where I can bring the food because global citizenry is very much with us people expats in every part of the world, and and there’s always that piece of home that you miss, the genesis of JustKitchen was really how do I bring food that that we all miss, you know, either expats from North America living in Asia, the stuff that they grew up with missing, and how do I bring that through to Asia? And how do I bring the same the Taiwanese food and the you know, the fruit from Hong Kong over to North America that you know, a person like me that growing up there that I would I would have that access to?

Michael Waitze 3:30
Can I understand the process of taking an American brand like you mentioned what Texas Roadhouse, you also mentioned TGI Fridays, right, so things with which I’m very familiar. What is it like taking it from North America? Into Taiwan? Like how hard is it to do that just logistically getting the right ingredients? You don’t I mean, working with the home office to make sure that the menus the right all that kind of stuff. What is that like?

Jason Chen 3:54
I mean, for a TGI Fridays, or Texas Roadhouse, they’re very well established brands. So they have a very, very built out supply chain, their SOP is very established. So as a franchisee in Taiwan, you’re given the SOP for recipes from beginning raw material to the very end. Okay, so and then there’s an approved vendor supplier list that you have to go through, okay. So by doing that, they make sure that everything that that is being offered here in Taiwan taste exactly as he would taste in Texas or California or anywhere in North America. So for that brick, those brick and mortar international enterprises, yeah, they have gotten sorted down to the very last detail.

Michael Waitze 4:39
And what is it like though, taking that very Western, in some cases, very American style food right into Taiwan. I’ve only been in Taipei once. But almost universally, the one thing that everybody said to me was the food here is the best food in the whole world. Right? Like I was literally only there for like a day and during that day they want to take me to 15 different restaurants to taste 15 Different kinds of things. What’s it like taking that food that’s so different. And exposing it to, to the Taiwanese population

Jason Chen 5:10
telogen merged itself as as a culinary hub here. It’s a very food culture here. One of the things that people gathered around was always around food around different tables and families and friends alike. So there’s always been a huge appreciation for food. And then having a very diverse history in Taiwan, there’s a lot of Japanese influencers, a lot of American influence, a lot of European influence. So there’s a there’s a wide acceptance for for different types of foods. So that’s kind of ingrained in the people here in Taiwan. And I will say the past 20 years. I mean, tgi fridays, for instance, as a brand, it’s been in Taiwan for 30 years. So so it’s nothing new, you know, to the American palate, or North American college is not nothing new to the town, nice people, much like Hong Kong, you know, it’s very international that way. So, yeah, so the introduction of a brand like TGI Fridays, it’s very easy to accept. In fact, people here really appreciate the authenticity in terms of American food, or what European food, whereas some other countries in Southeast Asia, for instance, or even parts of China, localizations, a little bit more important. So I will say that’s the biggest difference between Taiwan and maybe other parts of Asia.

Michael Waitze 6:23
Interesting. And how do you make the leap from a full service restaurant into a ghost kitchen? Like, what was the change in your mindset and your management team’s mindset that said, Okay, instead of having everybody come here and sit down, we’re just going to have a food preparation place, and then we’re going to deliver that to people?

Jason Chen 6:42
That’s a great question. Without having the history and the background in brick and mortar restaurants, and really understanding that the cost of food and preparation, the importance of quality, I don’t think we would be as successful as a ghost kitchen operator today. So having that was a big influence. But being involved in the business witnessed the growth of delivery from seven years ago. And growth has been, you know, in double digits, year over year. So the growth has something that that’s that everyone’s taken notice. And since COVID, happened, it really took that into into hyper growth. Yeah, but that what I’ve been studying delivery, I’ve been studying the sort of the emergence of quick commerce and the gig economy with like, the likes of Uber, Uber Eats Fu Panda. So yeah, it was really kind of an evolution of just being in the business and and seeing it grow as a trend over the years. And then having seen COVID happen, really obviously, sort of taking it into into the growth that was even exponential from already what was already, you know, a high growth category.

Michael Waitze 7:49
Yeah, I mean, if you look around, almost any vertical business has been impacted by COVID. And is accelerated the digital transformation of those businesses. We see it across every podcast and every show that we do in every vertical that we have. There’s a tech angle here, though, that’s really important that you can’t get away from I believe you could probably run a TGI Fridays, obviously, you need some kind of technology, but the sophistication and the complexity of the technology that’s necessary to run a cloud kitchen, it’s just a different scale. Is that Is that fair? And if it is? How do you build that to a point where those cloud kitchens are just like, super efficient, and then connect them to the delivery side as well,

Jason Chen 8:30
the nature of the ghost kitchen operation, which is also the benefits, the benefit of it is the fact that you don’t have to be on High Street or Main Street. Yeah, the fact that you can, you can operate multiple brands at one location, the fact that, that you can, you can do it without front of the house and just back in the house, all those efficiencies, economically, and operationally. At the same time, you don’t have the luxury of brand awareness, you can have a signage on the street that people are going to walk by and see. So location then becomes very important. Where do we choose? Data Analytics is key for us, where we put our kitchens where there’s going to be the highest volume of delivery demand, what are the cuisine gaps that are in demand there? Do we want to be in an area with high volume and high concentration of say, sexual food? Do we want to go in there and compete in that? Or do we want to go into that area where we know there’s high demand for delivery, high concentration of one type of food, but a high void of another type of food that we know it’s going to sell well, and that’s something that we put into that geography. So location is important. And obviously in in terms of data, we also analyze the average basket sizes, how much do people spend in each locale? What are the contracts of the of the households, you know, are they are they individuals or the couples or their families of four, right? That has a big impact on what kind of delivery items you offer? Also that has a big impact of delivery volume.

Michael Waitze 10:02
Yeah, I mean, there’s obviously a massive data science and data analysis business here. I want to back up for a second though, it occurs to me that if I look at the cost structure of a typical restaurant, let’s look at a Friday’s right? Just because you’ve been involved in this one unit of physical location, in a high foot traffic space, right? You want people to walk by and to be able to see it. So it’s in a mall or on a main street, like you said, like high street, whatever the name of the street is. And then you have costs associated with waiters, waitresses, maybe there’s a maitre d. And there’s some tech like built into the business. So you abstract all of that away, you just have a kitchen that then connects to delivery and logistics, and you deliver food, and it doesn’t have to be on a main street. So the cost of the real estate then can be lower. So it feels like your margin should get much higher, right? If you’re just producing the same amount of food, you’re ordering efficiently, and you’re delivering within a radius around that restaurant that is, you know, efficient enough. But on the other hand, I’m thinking wait a second, though, you’re replacing waiters, waitresses, and Maitre D’s with data scientists, computer programmers, and lots of technology. And then you have to interface with the three PL right, the third party logistics companies. Is there a massive cost benefit to this? Or does just employing the tech? You know what I mean?

Jason Chen 11:17
Yes, yeah. And I think the word that did that makes a big difference in spending that that that upfront cost, it really does turn into like a fast model enables scalability. Because once you build it, that data science, you know, that geo scoring, or that geo fencing of a location, yep, the menu construct that analysis, that that becomes something that’s replicable everywhere, I can scrape the data for Taiwan, SSA as easily as I can scrape the data in Hong Kong, in Manila, in Bangkok, wherever we want to go. It’s scalable. So that process is one of the things that that analysis is one of the same. In short, I think answering your question by investing in all that tech and all the integration and all that, you know, that content management system, right? If we’re just doing one kitchen, it doesn’t make sense, right? We would if you did, 100. I think that makes sense.

Michael Waitze 12:14
And are you scouting out locations and food styles and stuff like that, before you put a kitchen in a specific location? Like how do you get that data? Do you just look at some of the other? And I know it’s more sophisticated in this? But do you kind of walk the neighborhood in a way? And kind of say, well, there’s a dumpling shop here and there’s a pizza shop over there and a hamburger shop over there? And then try to accumulate that data? Like how else do you understand who’s living in the condo that’s there, like all this data analysis that you do before putting a kitchen there are you know,

Jason Chen 12:44
it’s a combination of a lot of different data sources, government data, gets you household numbers gives you population density, mobile users gets your data usage, how much data they’re using, how much how much? What’s the age group? What, you know, how much time are they spending on their phones, huge impact on order delivery, obviously, the DSPS, the delivery service providers, so like UberEATS, Fu Panda grab, they want you to succeed, they want you to do volume, so that they can make money. So they offer you a lot of data, that they gather that because they they have tons of data on on what’s being delivered. Right. And then lastly, we as I mentioned, you know, we scrape our own data, you know, back in the day, when you open a restaurant, and people go around with a clicker and they sit on the on the street corner and people are walking by? Yeah. Look, fortunately for us, we don’t have to do that anymore. So we can scrape the internet for data in terms of what’s being delivered to wear down to one block radius. So we know what kind of what kind of cuisine is being delivered? What kind of dollars are being delivered? And are they are they is that one for one person? Is it for two people? Or is it for a family of four? And that goes to how we engineer our brands? And as well as how we engineer within within the brands? Do we do share place? Or do we do individual bento boxes, right? It’s really a collection of that entire amount of different data sets. And then having conclusively saying this is where we should be at this is what we should be offering and at what time.

Michael Waitze 14:14
So you talked about DSPs? I talked about three pls because I think about this from an E commerce perspective. But same idea, right? Yeah. Let’s say you do some data analysis. And you find out that there’s a specific neighborhood that has the right population density and has a kind of a very high GDP per capita. So they’re earning a lot of money. It’s a wealthy neighborhood, right? They’re driving nice cars. They all have iPhone 13 Plus Max’s all this data that you can gather, right? But then you think Uber Eats is not controlling the last mile delivery and nothing against UberEATS. Right, but it’s very generic. Is there room in your analysis and from your experience to say, for specific types of foods and specific neighborhoods, we want to build our own delivery service so that there Premium there because we know people are willing to pay extra for it so that the guy and the gal that shows up is kind of showing up like in a tuxedo. Not exactly. But you know what I mean? So that whole experience is just as great as if they went to Montego Bay in New York, you know what I mean?

Jason Chen 15:18
Yeah, and that, and that’s a good point, because I think it’s also region or geography specific for pick Japan, for instance, go ahead. I know that, obviously, will breed is quite popular there. But in Japan, there are specific sushi, and sashimi delivery services, that appears just to the high end. And people want to order that particular type of food from these delivery service providers. Because it’s more hygienic. It’s the way it’s delivered. The presentation. It’s nicer. I believe there’s room for that type of service. But three P also DSPs. I mean, it’s it’s not an it’s not a cheap proposition. No, it’s to run your own fleet is not hard. But it’s everything else. It’s how do you work hard? How do you generate the order volume? How do you bring people onto your platform, so that, that you user interfaces is easy and all that kind of stuff? Right? So it’s really the origination of orders. That’s the difficult part. And that’s what’s costing, you know, the likes and breathes and pretended to be burning so much money, because they have to bring people onto their platform. Right?

Michael Waitze 16:29
I would make the case, I think foodpanda would tell you that the logistics side of delivery actually is really hard. But I do think they would agree with you as well, that the discovery and the Order Generation is hard as well. Yes, it just, uh, you know, I lived in Japan for 22 years. And it was interesting, because when you do order something like sushi, they’ll send it to you in one of their dishes. And you’re meant to leave that dish either outside the door of your condo or mansion, as they say, in Japan or outside the door of your home. And they’ll come and pick that back up for you. Right. And that always felt like a little bit premium. And the shops did that themselves, right. But I’m just curious when you run all these cloud kitchens, at the end of the day, particularly if it’s your own brand, right? Because there, there are two ways to do this at scale. One is you shut down the Fridays, but you deliver Friday’s food, right? So it’s not your brand. But the other one is you create your own ribs or your own burgers or your own pizzas, right under your own brand. And then you really want to control it. And I sometimes figure if I hand it off to even a great delivery service, at the end of the day, the guy or the gal that shows up is the last thing that somebody sees before they get the brand. And I really want more control over that. But I understand how difficult that is. Yeah, to be fair.

Jason Chen 17:41
Right. Right. So thought that’s always I wouldn’t say at the very forefront, but it’s always it’s always talked about it’s always thought about, you know, within our within our company, and and we do our own delivery to certain types of b2b services, you know, right? It’s something that’s a little bit more, more direct when there’s volume going to one place. That’s something that we do ourselves.

Michael Waitze 18:03
How long has JustKitchen been around?

Jason Chen 18:06
We started in December of 2019. Okay, not long. And and we actually did our first delivery March 24 of 2020. We started pre COVID and kind of landed by the distorted COVID.

Michael Waitze 18:21
He did, didn’t you?

Jason Chen 18:23
Yeah, so timing was perfect. was good for for business. I mean, it’s unfortunate what hold is taken on everyone through for the two years now. But But timing wise for business that it was, it was almost spot on

Michael Waitze 18:38
time, it was great, actually, because all these digital businesses, even in my own business, the growth during COVID. Again, it was it’s a tragedy. It’s terrible. But the growth for the business has been insane, right? Because everybody’s at home and nobody wants to go out and get food, they’re happy to have it delivered. The same way. They’re happy to have information delivered directly to their smartphones via podcast. So same thing in a way right? How do you look at building your own brands? This is really interesting, because the margins in your own brand, because you’re not paying away franchise fees or licensing fees to somebody else have to be the future of this, I would presume. But on top of that, how do you as a sort of smaller company, right? Like I know how McDonald’s does this. They get french fries from Simplot. Right? So it’s all the same supplier globally. How do you maintain consistency, not just across countries, right? Because if you have a restaurant in Taipei, it’s different than having it in Thailand. How do you maintain that consistency?

Jason Chen 19:33
Supply chains always it’s always a challenge in the food business brick and mortar or us, you know, supply chains a huge part of it. Yes. We build a technology out of necessity. We when we first started we had to build a content management platform that that integrated into the DSP so we’re not dealing with you know, which each one of our locations will have eight brands. So we’re not dealing with eight different paths, right? And then if you multiply that by To DSPs or three DSPs, then all of a sudden, you’ve got, you know, you’re running a hardware store,

Michael Waitze 20:05
right, and it’s a nightmare. I go into a regular restaurant and I don’t understand how they manage like the 15, iPads or smartphones and stuff they have like, I think there’s a business. But I think there’s a business to just go great. In the same way that there’s Sabre for airlines and every airline connects to it, I think there’s got to be Sabre for ordering, right, where there’s just a platform that everybody connects to every pad just feeds into that one piece of software. And then you can see Uber Eats food, Panda, our own stuff, that’s other DSP, it all comes down to the same pad. So for the restaurants easy to manage,

Jason Chen 20:38
there are those services. And as I said that we had to build it out of necessity, because they weren’t available on time. I mean, there’s there’s guys like Olo hubster, and all these guys in North America, it’s available, but it’s trying to make its way over here. So we built it from scratch, right, so we have integration into into DSPs. From their own way we integrate it obviously our brands so we can manage our brands on our platform, we can add subtract menu items, we can give discounts. And then from there, we integrate our ERP or ERP system is integrated so we can manage what’s being ordered what’s being delivered to, you know, spoke one, kitchen one, kitchen two, kitchen three, kitchen four, and we can better function no first in first out, you know, getting the sustainability of this less food waste. So we built that component to it. And then from there, from there on, which kind of bolted on because we got multiple locations. So we bolted on VTS, no virtual training system is not designed our platform. So there it goes to how we maintain certain parts consistency, right and then, and then the ERP obviously now with with global supply chain, you can get oftentimes, you can get a lot of the same suppliers in Taiwan as you can in Hong Kong and in other parts of the world fasten. So we make sure that that we try to work with the same food suppliers. And then once we have our recipes, or build charts, all that information on our platform, then we can take that over to say Singapore or Hong Kong. So they know that this many kilograms of pork, when produced this way, it’s going to give you 78% yield when you when you do it this way, and we do it in a combi oven or versus a boiler. So all that is, is on a on a platform that we managed to make sure that consistency all the way from production of raw material all the way to plating to how it’s being presented in the bag is consistent throughout all our locations in Taiwan, as well as it is in Hong Kong.

Michael Waitze 22:38
Very interesting. If I’m an independent restaurant operator, and I want to add the services on to my restaurant, right? So I want to keep the front of house, I’ve got a pretty efficient back of house, can I white label your stuff so that I can then easily connect my restaurant to all these DSPs, as you mentioned, and just become more efficient as a delivery mechanism as well.

Jason Chen 23:00
Absolutely. And that’s something that we’re not doing yet. But as a result of this technology platform, this content management platform that we built out, and the data analytics that we have, we can certainly white label this to say, a noodle shop in New York City, for instance, that does Chinese food, we have beef noodle brand, we have ramen brands, they may do a different type of noodle, but then they can use our technology and basically put in their location. Yep, get an analysis of what kind of demand there is for beef noodle and ramen in that area that they operate in physically. And then and then with our entire SOP online, they can source the food, they can get the supply chain, and then they don’t have to put any extra capex because they already got the noodle, the hot water bath or whatever it is that they use for their noodle shop. So there’s no no extra capex. So it’s absolutely something we can white label. And it’s in the works for the future.

Michael Waitze 24:00
So I always look at things as like a two sided market. And right now we’re just talking about the demand side of the market, right? You have a restaurant, you have a brand you order food. And you built all this both front end and back end technology to be able to manage that more efficiently and are close to white labeling it for other restaurants. How about the other side of this? In other words, could you take the tech that you’ve built and install it in the suppliers so that then your ordering mechanism becomes automated as well. Right? So your supplier, again, for consistency reasons to if you’re ordering the tomatoes, and I’m just making it up? Yeah, for the noodles from the same place every single time. As opposed to going oh, no, we’ve run out of stuff and they don’t know either. You give them the platform to connect their raw materials into your supply chain so that even they’ve just like yeah, I guess they want 10 More noodle portions and they just send it to you kind of thing.

Jason Chen 24:54
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s, it’s more or less of what we do ourselves because when we You know, when our store or kitchen number eight runs short of something that’s going to get flagged and it’s going to get into our purchasing procurement department and they’ll they’ll put the order through and then you by way of the four PL nowadays, because you don’t, we’re not going to be running our own trucks and delivery, it gets delivered to the location that’s, that’s requiring the supply. So we can absolutely build this onto our platform. So that it’s like almost a marketplace. So it’s a great market forecast. We can do b2b And as well, as well as b2b and b2c lining up from basically farm to table in a very digital way. We can onboard merchants, suppliers, big and small, some small suppliers can can get onto that there’s a market for their their farm goods or whatever it is that they’re producing. So yeah, it certainly can can be both on demand and on the supply side of the business.

Michael Waitze 25:54
Yeah. Because then you understand pricing across the board for all ingredients, right. And then you can work more closely with your suppliers so that they can have things in stock that you need and not catch them with their pants down where they say, oh, sorry, we don’t have enough tomatoes, because we didn’t anticipate this kind of demand. Yes. In how many countries you operating now.

Jason Chen 26:13
Right now we’re in Taiwan and Hong Kong, but we’re building currently in the Philippines in Singapore. And we have plans of deploying out in Malaysia closer to May this year. Okay. And then Thailand as well.

Michael Waitze 26:28
Do you look at a market like Bangladesh, we talked about population density, Dhaka as the most densely populated city in the world and Bangladesh itself as 170 million people and the restaurant business there is still nascent, because of the sort of just beginning to accelerate GDP per capita growth there. Do you look at that market as well as a place? That’s interesting?

Jason Chen 26:48
We’ve studied it and and for all the oddest reasons you mentioned, it’s a great market, but we haven’t considered it because we just don’t know it’s it’s a, it’s a bit foreign to us. No, Hong Kong was it was an easy step over for us. Singapore is quite easy for us. Yeah. Next, we’ve got great partners in the Philippines, in Malaysia and Thailand, when we want to grow as quickly as we want to grow, we try to partner up with local partners that can help us get the initial setup that can help us with supply chain that can help us with HR, human capital, and all that kind of stuff. India certainly is, is in this is a very mature player there that that’s been around for quite some time. Rebel foods. So rebel has been there for a while they’re, you know, they’re doing very well. We talked to them a lot. And they’ve got the markets, you know, they’ve ended their servicing world. So, ya know, we’re aware of it. But But I think with with the growth that we’re seeing in in Thailand, in Malaysia, and the Philippines, all three countries going at 18 to 20%. Year over year. Growth, right. I think we have our hands full.

Michael Waitze 27:57
I think you do. So when you moved back to Taiwan, right? And you started bringing us brands. I’m sure you thought there was a big opportunity there. Do you feel like this is a bigger opportunity now? Because its ability to scale? Yeah.

Jason Chen 28:09
Yes, we do it. I guess my line of sight into how big this market is helping the runway is grows day after day. Because there’s really no limitation to it. We started in Taiwan, thinking that we would count would have the capacity for 25 kitchens. What were 30 Plus now? Yeah, I think there’s room for another 20

Michael Waitze 28:30
At least. I mean, are you just in Taipei, are you in some of the other bigger cities in Taiwan as well.

Jason Chen 28:35
We’re in New Taipei City and Taipei City. So these are the two sort of the largest cities in Taiwan, Taiwan. We’re in those two cities. We’re in Tai Chong, which is the second largest city, and we’re also in Galicia. So we’re everywhere. But we intend to be at a few more locations. You know, there are a few other studies that were that we’re still looking at, as well.

Michael Waitze 28:57
And how do you look at the competition that exists in this space, not just in Taiwan, but kind of in the rest of the world? Right?

Jason Chen 29:03
It’s a very unique category. It’s talked about all the time, there’s a lot of money being invested into it. But there are a handful of big players. Now there’s one big player in North America, there’s one big player in the Middle East. Well, I’m talking about sort of ghost kitchen operators. There’s one big player in India and then there’s us so everyone’s kind of concentrating on on on one region and that’s a byproduct of the fact that the market is so big within North America there’s so much room to grow that they’re not thinking about jumping over to other parts of the world you know in the Middle East the markets so big in India the market so big and in Asia, the market so big, we all have our hands fold in we’re not in our respective sort of geographies.

Michael Waitze 29:51
What is your ideal partner look like in the sense that do you want it to be an existing f&b player or can or is it better to have it be like a tech player or some other They’re a type of partner, what does it look like to you? Didn’t mean like in Thailand, you want to partner with the CP group, you want to partner with MK that does all these restaurants who just want to partner with a tech team that understands how to hire the right tech people how to do the right three PL and stuff like that.

Jason Chen 30:14
I think the tech side, I think we’ve we’ve spent a lot of time in and so I think that’s something that we bring to the table to our part to any partnership that we we enter Yeah, in Thailand, you know, a minor amount of CP. Yeah, those those types of partners are the partners that we want. Because because they understand supply chain, they have to brands, they have trained people that can go into a kitchen and start operating immediately. So that is, in my opinion, the perfect the perfect profile, like, you know, like magazines in Hong Kong. Yeah, these big restaurant groups, and they see it as well, because they’re seeing the business changing the QSR restaurants, for instance, the quick service restaurant, the old McDonald’s, we mentioned, they had the playground for the kids to play in sunlight. And just because of hygiene reasons. And because the COVID I mean, that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Michael Waitze 31:06
It was never good to begin with. But now it’s even worse. Yeah.

Jason Chen 31:09
Even worse now. Right. And then before they were always looking at, you know, at 100 seats per restaurant, now they’re scaling down to, you know, to 60 to 40, to some even less. Yeah. Because before he was always 60% in front of the house and 40 and 40% back of house, that trend is reversing compared to all the restaurant groups like the you know, the miners and even at TGI Fridays, they’re all looking at ways of how did they get involved in that ghost kitchen, sort of segment of the business to complement what they what they have, and the likes of you know, Burger King, Wendy’s, even McDonald’s and they’re getting into that this delivery only

Michael Waitze 31:46
know model as well. Pete has been delivered since I was like four years old.

Jason Chen 31:49
Did the grandfather’s of ghost kitchens Right. So. So yeah, no, I think a lot of people are moving into what we’re doing. So these groups that we talked, we talked about the CPS of the world, that the miners to the world, the other the other big restaurant groups, that were good partners, and it’s a good fit for both.

Michael Waitze 32:07
Okay, look, I’m going to let you go. This was really interesting. Jason, Jason Chen, the CEO of JustKitchen, we’re going to have to have you back on six months out to figure out how that growth has been going in countries outside of Taiwan. And as you move into Malaysia, as you move into Thailand, I’m really curious how this goes if that’s okay with you. Thank you again for doing this.

Jason Chen 32:26
That’ll be great. Had a great time. Thank you very much.

 

Follow Michael Waitze and the Asia Tech Podcast here:

Facebook – Michael Waitze

Facebook – Asia Tech Podcast

LinkedIn – Michael Waitze

Twitter – Michael Waitze