Chinese immigrant Kelu “Eric” Liu, 27, says he never planned on being an entrepreneur. But at 22, the University of Nottingham graduate founded U.K.-based food and grocery deliverer HungryPanda after realizing there was a lack of accessible Asian cuisine outside of his home continent.
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“It’s very difficult for users to find authentic Asian restaurants on [other] local platforms,” Liu tells Forbes.
With the help of software engineers, HungryPanda became a solution. The delivery platform is tailored for Asian communities, aiming to outperform industry leaders like DoorDash by partnering with restaurants and merchants to offer ingredients, groceries and traditional-style meals that have been historically hard to find in Western cities.
Now, six years later, the platform operates in 10 countries across four continents, has raised $220 million in funding to date and exceeded $200 million in revenue last year.
And Liu isn’t the only food-focused founder to make it on to our 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce list this year. He’s joined by Simmy Dhillon, 25, and Jhai Dhillon, 27, cofounders of Simmer, a food subscription company that hawks perfectly portioned and ready-to-heat-and-eat dishes. The brothers started the business with just $12 and have generated nearly $3 million in sales in the past two years. Meanwhile Every, the sustainable plant-based food delivery company cofounded by Casimir Rob, 28, and Benjamin Ahlers, 29, offers ready-made vegan meals, selling over 1 million bowls to date.
For nearly a decade, Forbes has highlighted young entrepreneurs like these on our annual 30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce list, with the help of nominations from the public. To be considered for this year’s list, all candidates had to be under the age of 30 as of March 7, 2023, and never before named to the 30 Under 30 list.
Candidates were evaluated by a panel of judges that included Marcia Kilgore, founder of makeup and skincare brand Beauty Pie; Filip Dames, founding partner of Cherry Ventures and cofounder of online retailer Zalando; Miki Kuusi, cofounder of delivery platform Wolt and a 2016 30 Under 30 alum; and Shehnaaz Chenia, senior director of ecommerce at Lego.
The 30 named to this year’s list currently reside in 11 countries: the Netherlands, Switzerland, the U.K., Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Norway, the U.S. and Spain.
In Stockholm, Sweden, social media influencer Matilda Djerf, 25, and boyfriend Rasmus Johansson, 27, created clothing brand Djerf Avenue in 2019 with a focus on inclusivity and sustainability. The company refuses to retouch photos and includes models of all types in their marketing, from models with ostomy bags to disabilities. Last year, the brand saw about $34.5 million in revenue—up from just $1.8 million in 2020, its first full year of operation.
Speaking of inclusivity, Amsterdam-based Lalaland, cofounded by Michael Musandu, 27, and Ugnius Rimsa, 26, uses AI to create digital avatars for retailers to showcase their products on different body types and people—eliminating the need for physical photoshoots. They’ve already worked with brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Levi’s, and have raised $4 million in funding.
Elsewhere in the fashion space, Joe Wilkinson, 26, and Mario Maher, 28, are curating mystery gift boxes, which include luxury clothing, footwear and accessories, via their company Heat. The London-based company, with about 30 employees, has received nearly $5 million from investors including LVMH Luxury Ventures and the Hermès family.
This year’s list also had no shortage of pet-focused companies: Alexander Thelen’s, 25, Mammaly sells chewable vitamins for dogs; NutriPaw, cofounded by Adelina Cornelia Zotta, 28, and Connor Westby, 28, sells natural pet supplements and health supplies; and Just Russel, cofounded by Victor Mortreu, 26, Louis Mortreu, 25, Renaat Waeles, 25, and Cyriel Van Steen, 25, delivers dog food, with a recipe altered to each pets’ needs, to owners’ doors.
The list of founders also covers human health, too. In France, best friends Anjali Govindassamy, 27, Florian Frier, 27, and Jonathan Haddad, 27, cofounded Repeat, an affordable and sustainable line of menstrual underwear, generating nearly $6.3 million in revenue last year. Meanwhile U.K.-based Valentina Milanova, 28, founded women’s health brand Daye, creating sustainable tampons coated with CBD to help alleviate cramps.
And on the business side of retail, many of our lister’s companies are helping retailers streamline business processes. With $15 million in funding, Rever, cofounded by Marius Montmany, 23, and Oriol Hernandez i Fajula, 26, is a customized returns software, allowing companies to provide instant refunds to customers.
And when ecommerce shops are looking to sell their companies, that’s when 29-year-old Laurence Booth-Clibborn’s startup The Mothership can come in. The platform buys and builds direct-to-consumer ecommerce companies, completing about 30,000 orders in December alone.
This year’s list was edited by Katherine Love, Emmy Lucas and Mark Faithfull. For a link to our complete 2023 30 Under 30 Europe Retail & Ecommerce list, , and for full 2023 30 Under 30 Europe coverage, .
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