Heavy Chef Event: The Yuppiechef Story
Event Report: The Legendary Tale Of One Of South Africa's Biggest E-Commerce Successes
Last night at Workshop17 Watershed in Cape Town, we had the privilege of having two of the most notable figures in South African business history on the Heavy Chef stage, founders of Yuppiechef Andrew Smith and Shane Dryden.
Over 90 of our community members joined us for the live event on a wintry night in the mother city, and even more via the live stream, keen to learn and ready to pick the brains behind one of Africa’s e-commerce giants.
Shane and Andrew need little introduction. In 2006, as two bright-eyed web developers, they decided to start an e-commerce shop from their mother’s lounge in Kenilworth, Cape Town. 15 years later, that business, an online shop of premium kitchen and homeware products, has shaken the industry in a record-breaking sale worth R500 million to one of South Africa’s biggest retailer groups. The two remarkable entrepreneurs have won several ‘best e-commerce platform in SA’ awards, multiple accolades across the continent and, most importantly, the hearts and minds of South Africa.
So, how did they do it?
The founders famously describe Yuppiechef as ‘a customer service business that happens to sell kitchen tools’. From handwritten notes to free delivery - no matter where you are - to selling products you can’t find anywhere, Yuppiechef has kept the customer experience at the heart of its model, a lesson that many e-commerce businesses today can adapt.
And learn we did. As per tradition, Heavy Chef CEO Fred Roed kicked off the evening with a shout out to our super supportive partners for making the event possible. For this particular evening, Backsberg provided our speakers with an extra treat - a bottle of 10-year old Sydney Back brandy that had Shane declaring, “I don't really drink brandy but this is really smooth and easy drinking.”
“Backsberg is one of our longstanding partners and has provided us with this amazing brandy, which is going to loosen up the conversation tonight as we pry into the innermost secrets of the two co-founders,” quipped Fred.
Not that they needed it. From the easy banter on stage, it was very clear that the relationship between Fred, Shane and Andrew goes way back. As it turns out, the garage in the Yuppiechef story was across the road from Fred’s mum’s house in Kenilworth, inspiring a friendship that is very obviously invaluable to all three of them. This made for an easy-going exchange that was not only endearing but personal, funny and super insightful.
- Andrew unpacks ‘extreme business’ and retells the legend of the bug zapper: https://youtu.be/EqPdDpjXj2Y?t=1244
- Shane talking about the ‘dream’ that started it all: https://youtu.be/EqPdDpjXj2Y?t=1604
- The challenges Shane and Andrew faced at the start of their journey (and the moment they nearly gave up on Yuppiechef to focus on selling flags): https://youtu.be/EqPdDpjXj2Y?t=1818
Watch the video here:
Thank You To…
First and foremost, our event partners Xero, PayFast and Workshop17, without whom none of these inspiring sessions would be possible. Backsberg, Sir Fruit, Creed Living and Goodleaf - thank you for the super-tasty thirst-quenchers and healthy treats. To our other partners, including Retail Capital, xneelo, Whipping the Cat, Eclipse Communications, HP Stores and many more - you guys are incredibly appreciated.
To our community of entrepreneurs, you guys are amazing - thanks for not just joining our events but for being so engaged and engaging while at it.
Here’s to the next one - stay inspired.