MY delivery start-up dahmakan names marketing VP, eyes more marketing talent

Malaysian food delivery start-up dahmakan has named Sharad Harjai (pictured) vice president, marketing to drive growth and make dahmakan one of the most loved food brands in Southeast Asia. He will oversee all markets globally, including Bangkok which dahmakan expanded into last year, and upcoming ones such as Singapore and Indonesia. In his new role, Harjai will also work closely with the three founders Jessica Li, Jonathan Weins and Christian Edelmann, as well as the executive team in Thailand.

In a previous LinkedIn job post seen by A+M, the VP of marketing is responsible for all marketing and growth metrics, and will have to define and spearhead company-wide growth strategies together with the founders. The individual must also optimise existing growth channels and continuously test "new and crazy campaigns" to uncover untapped acquisition opportunities.

Prior to joining dahmakan, Harjai was working for India-based online grocery shopping platform Grofers for more than four years. According to his LinkedIn, he last helmed the role of senior director marketing - head, revenue and customer retention at the company. Before that, he had a short stint with technology company Glownet and also worked with Citi for more than four years, last helming the role of product lead, Citi global operations.

While he declined to share more about dahmakan's expansion into Singapore and Indonesia, Harjai said dahmakan will keep a constant touch with its consumers and improve its service based on their feedback.

Prior to his appointment, Harjai told A+M that dahmakan's marketing initiatives were managed by Weins and Edelmann. He added that creative, digital, PR, social and media duties are currently done in-house. Harjai was "super impressed" by what the team has built over the last few years and it is one of the few Y Combinator start-ups in the region. Y Combinator is an American seed accelerator launched in March 2005 and helped launched more than 2,000 companies including Dropbox, Airbnb and Reddit.

"I'm a foodie myself and an opportunity to create a food brand was very exciting. Also, Malaysia and other Southeast Asia markets are growing at an exciting pace. It's a great place to be at right now. I didn't have to think much to take up the role," he explained.

According to him, dahmakan has placed plenty of focus on understanding the needs of the customer. Therefore, Harjai aims to take the focus a step ahead and serve food in a way its customers love the most.

"While I learnt how to build a business from scratch and scale it up at Grofers, working with Citi helped me gain a lot of experience in learning how to manage teams and businesses at scale. Both the workplaces along with my MBA at IE Business School exposed me to various cultures (India, USA, Europe). I built curiosity in learning more about different cultures, which is very important if one wants to service food," he explained. Harjai added that the experiences at "invaluable" and will help him in building the dahmakan brand.

Even after bringing Harjai on board, dahmakan is still relentless in its pursuit of building up its marketing team.

According to Harjai in a LinkedIn post, the company is on the hunt for a growth analyst, performance marketing expert, CRM manager, brand manager and graphic designer. Earlier this year, the company tied up with Digi Telecommunications to set up a digital canteen on the telco's premises for employees to get access to healthy, wholesome meals. This is part of its efforts to digitise its workplace and take care of its employees’ wellbeing.

Meanwhile in May this year, dahmakan also bagged a US$5 million series A funding, which is used to drive growth in existing and new markets. These include launching new distribution channels such as partnering with food delivery marketplaces and retailers, as well as expanding its own delivery coverage.

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