Taku Tanaka wants to show off Vietnam's immense potential

May 12, 2022 | 10:52
After travelling throughout Southeast Asia to survey the opportunities for start-up ventures, Tanaka decided to settle down in Vietnam. In his view, the country enjoys high and stable economic growth, with a very promising food and beverages (F&B) industry. He is now the founder of the up-and-coming food-tech startup Kamereo.
Taku Tanaka wants to show off Vietnam's immense potential
Taku Tanaka, founder of food-tech startup Kamereo

Three years ago, upon leaving the COO position at authentic Japanese-Italian pizza restaurant Pizza 4P’s, Taku Tanaka faced two options, opening his own restaurant or acting as the food supplier for other restaurants.

With the first option, the market could have another authentic food brand like Pizz 4P’s. Meanwhile, if securing success with the second option, Tanaka could contribute to shaking up the whole food industry.

Believing that one needs to think big, Tanaka chose the second option for his start-up business.

He has now founded Kamereo, a business-to-business app for sourcing ingredients that is catered to hotels, restaurants, cafes, and offices.

Resorting to technology to boost automation in the supply chain, Kamereo wants to save manpower costs with the precision and transparency of the new model.

He chose the name Kamereo for his start-up because it originated from the chameleon, an animal which can change its skin colour based on actual conditions.

“The company’s message is to always act flexibly to fit the customers’ needs,” said Tanaka.

He is confident that in the near future, more foreign youngsters will set footholds in Vietnam seeking investment opportunities.

He is confident that in the near future, more foreign youngsters will set footholds in Vietnam seeking investment opportunities.

Tanaka said he holds high expectations that the country’s regulatory system will be further improved.

With a firm financial background, Tanaka has a good grip of what investors expect from a startup. This helped him to secure success twice after meeting the investors just several times.

Most recently, Kamereo raised $4.6 million in a series of funding rounds co-led by conglomerate CPF Group, Quest Ventures, and Genesia Ventures.

Kamereo will use part of the funding to expand manpower to better accommodate the growing number of users and develop a one-stop procurement platform catering to F&B businesses.

This year, the company envisages expanding to the Hanoi market, building a new warehouse management system to optimise daily operations, continuously upgrading the user experience and service quality of its website and mobile app, and expanding tech coverage to allow the in-house engineering team to make fast and data-driven decisions.

Failures build maturity

Tanaka shared that failures should not be looked at so negatively, but as challenges from which one can grow – providing that the same mistake is not repeated.

One of the most common failures is in the recruitment phase, particularly when choosing important positions for start-up businesses.

In fact, many youngsters often visualise startups as something trendy and are unaware of the toil that is continuously required.

Tanaka experienced failure in one of his startups when his co-founder did not share the same vision or take the venture seriously enough.

In recruitment, most firms look at the skills and experience of the applicants, but Tanaka feels that such virtues can be acquired through training.

“I want to focus on the inner virtue or the mindset of an individual. If the employees have a distinct and outstanding mindset, they will make positive contributions to the team's success,” said Tanaka.

It will require more time for food-tech startup Kamereo to automate most of its operation process and there are also challenges as the customers in the F&B industry seem unready to change their habits.

For months now, every weekend Tanaka mulls over the company’s long-term development strategy, in which he wishes to do something connected to Vietnam.

“I want to show to the world that Vietnam has abundant potential, and particularly how the country is so wonderful to Japanese people,” said Tanaka.

Founded in 2018, Kamereo currently has about a hundred employees serving more than 400 active customers who regularly buy from the platform.

The company has grown by 15 per cent every month in the last 12 months despite mobility restrictions and the temporary closure of some businesses.

By Anh Hoa

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