An Interview With Stuart Mainwaring, Head of Corporate Ventures, Just Eat Ventures

Future Food-Tech London recently spoke with Stuart Mainwaring, Head of Corporate Ventures, Just Eat Ventures ahead of his speaking role at the summit on the 18-19th October in London. Read on to find out how Stuart thinks investors are transforming challenges into opportunities in food-tech, how AI will imbed itself into our everyday lives, and which company types he is coining as ‘the one to watch’.

You’re participating on the panel discussion “Transforming Challenges into Opportunities through Investment in Food-Tech” at Future Food-Tech London. What industry-wide trends do you think are set to transform the consumer-goods landscape by 2030? Where do you see the next wave of new technologies emerging?

Image: Stuart Mainwaring.

I believe Artificial Intelligence (AI) will become part of our everyday lives especially behind the scenes helping orchestrate our lives. Imagine being able to go to a restaurant and have a completely personalised menu identifying the food and dishes that best suit your immediate health goals and preferences. Then your order, along with your preferences about portion size, allergies, etc., can be passed directly to the chef. Restaurants too can benefit from AI technology. They will start to see AI technology that can monitor their sales, identify trends and then proactively manage stock and ordering to reduce wastage and increase efficiency.

With a growing appetite for high-tech food in the start-up ecosystem, what would you say makes the Just Eat Ventures accelerator programme unique?

We keep our cohort small. Usually 3-5 start ups. This enables us to tailor support to each individual founder. In addition, we provide access to internal resources enabling the start ups to benefit from our industry insight and expertise. We may be a FTSE 250 company but we still see ourselves as a start up. It takes great people to build and scale a great business and the talent and knowledge we have within Just Eat is staggering. Start ups on our programme can expect to access to this.

The idea for Just Eat, was initially born from a basement in Denmark 15 years ago. In your opinion, which countries/regions have the potential to become a leading hub for food-tech innovation? Is there a global view for Just Eat Ventures or is it UK specific?

When we started our Ventures team last year we wanted to operate like the start ups we aim to support. This means being agile, taking feedback and adapting fast. One of the key requests we’ve had is to launch similar initiatives in other countries so I believe in 2018 we will start exploring how we can support other food-tech communities outside of the UK.

Just Eat Ventures’ mission is to help bold, ambitious food-tech entrepreneurs build great businesses.

What is the fundamental mission behind Just Eat Ventures? What is the vision for the future and why is Future Food-Tech London important to this strategy?

Our mission is to help bold, ambitious food-tech entrepreneurs build great businesses.

That means not only being involved in the food-tech community but also look to support and drive innovation within it. Events such as Future Food-Tech enables us to meet thought leaders and innovators that can help build a vision of the future we collectively want.

If you had to name a company as “one to watch”, who would it be?

There are lots of exciting founders with great ideas and the ability to execute that are coming out of London so I couldn’t possible pin it down to a single one. But I do think over the next three years companies utilising AI, Blockchain and autonomous vehicles are the ones that will make the biggest impact to most people.

And finally, Hermes recently announced a new trial for self-driving delivery robots in the UK. Just Eat are already utilising the robots for takeaway deliveries in parts of London. What are the long-term opportunities for autonomous delivery robots in the future? What are the biggest challenges facing this method of delivery before it can become more mainstream?

Autonomous vehicles are an exciting technology that has the potential to reduce road traffic accidents, increase efficiency through our food supply chains and reduce emission. Safety is one of the biggest concerns which I’m sure will be solved by bold entrepreneurs soon enough. In the meantime, trials will continue, data will be gathered and takeaway will be delivered!

Stuart will be joining Generation Investment Management, Stray Dog Capital, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures and RebelBio on Future Food-Tech London’s closing investor panel on October 19th in London. To find out more on what the panel will discuss and to see the full agenda, click here.