The success story of Anton Voevodin, Head of innovation of Food Rocket
If you had asked Anton what he wanted to be as a child, the answer would have been “a tram driver.” Asking him the same question as an adult at university, his answer still would have been the furthest possible answer from what he’s doing now with Food Rocket.
Anton graduated from Saratov State Agrarian University with a degree in engineering. He later received an Executive MBA from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA). Still, he never once thought he would be leveraging his experience in the food technology industry.
From Humble Beginnings
While studying at university, Anton worked as a line employee at McDonald’s. At the time, he was simply looking for support and steady, reliable work with a big company, so McDonald’s was a logical choice for him.
However, he quickly climbed the ranks and became a regional manager in charge of overseeing 800 people by the age of 25.
Much of Anton’s success at McDonald’s came from his results-oriented approach to life. He wanted to be the best and grow the company, so he did everything he could to learn the nuances of personnel management, sales and operational tasks.
During his tenure at McDonald’s, he was able to land a collaboration with a well-known TV station, boosting monthly sales by 25%.
In the wake of this success, he created partnerships with more local channels because he saw the potential for driving traffic, and he even broadcast a TV drawing competition for kids.
Anton was also directly responsible for opening stores in four new cities over the course of six years, overseeing the entire process from construction to grand opening.
Anton’s impressive career at McDonald’s led to him being scouted by KFC as a regional operations manager in charge of 35 restaurants and 1,400 employees.
Rocketing Forward to New Heights
The pandemic brought Anton’s fast-moving fast food career to a halt. Still, he was interested in new technologies and new opportunities, so he accepted an offer from Yandex to be their Head of Product Development.
His task was to develop dark kitchens, which he was incredibly interested in. He could see the enormous potential for online sales during this time because of the ability to deliver without an offline presence.
He oversaw a three-month launch and three-month follow-up, which tested the market demand for this service and allowed Yandex to make the needed adjustments.
During his tenure, he was integral to the step-by-step development of the market and saw over 380 shops open. Overall, the project investment totaled $450,000, and today, Yandex.Lavka’s valuation is $400 million.
The next challenge was to create a unique offer for the international expansion of Yandex.Lavka. In just 2 months, four coffee points were opened in Paris and four in London.
On Anton’s initiative, a hot food delivery test was launched in London. Mini-kitchens were organized at each of the four Yandex warehouses. Lavka equipment was installed, and employees were hired and trained.
Anton hired a team to develop new ready meals, consisting of a chef, an assortment manager, and a training manager.
Over three months of the project, more than 25% of all orders contained products from the kitchenette, and user retention exceeded 30%.
Following this success, he was given an opportunity to construct bread bakeries for Yandex with an investment of $240,000.
Anton had to completely build the production processes from scratch. By the end of the project, Yandex had successfully shortened the supply chain and was able to provide 180 shops with fresh bread deliveries.
By this time, Anton had an impressive number of high-level success stories under his belt, and he was ready for a new challenge.
When he joined Food Rocket, it was a brand-new market and a totally different experience since he had never worked in America before.
Food Rocket benefited tremendously from his expertise. The American market is highly competitive and favorable to innovation, so a unique and exciting product can be both created and scaled up very quickly.
Anton was able to work closely with the Food Rocket team to help create a substantial competitive advantage for the company against both online and offline retailers.
He understands that the online experience must be brought as closely as possible to the offline experience in order to attract and retain users.
The pride Anton takes in his work is as plain as his success: Food Rocket’s revenue growth in Chicago is more than 27%, with a return rate of over 35%. He says the key to achieving this is having a strategy and adhering strictly to it.
Getting to Know the Man Behind the Plans
When asked about what inspires him, Anton said that he is always eager to be the first person to do what nobody else has done before.
He also loves seeing the process of a plan going from an idea on paper to being implemented in reality. That process invigorates and inspires him to have bigger, better ideas.
In five years, he sees himself in a vice president role within the American food technology sector. In the meantime, he plans to continue constantly learning (his next task is acquiring purchasing skills) and becoming an expert in understanding the American market.
His big goal? To create an innovative product or solution for charities that help homeless animals.
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