Pedram Assadi is the chief operating officer (COO) of Foodpanda APAC. He was appointed on the role in January 2019 to oversee all ongoing Foodpanda’s business operations in the region. Previously, Pedram spent more than ten years in tech, including stints at Amazon and IBM.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
KrASIA (Kr): What drew you into joining Foodpanda?
Pedram Assadi (PA): My parents moved from Iran to Germany, where I was born and raised. I worked in tech companies like IBM and Amazon after studying in the Netherlands. The catalyst was when, after leaving Amazon, I moved back to Iran to start an online food delivery company.
I have always had a passion for entrepreneurship, and I knew I had to seize the moment. I also wanted to bring an incremental impact to society. Iran has a huge market of about 80 million people. Back then, it was a growing economy, but lagging in its transition to a tech economy. There were food delivery companies around the world, but there were none in Iran. We grew quickly, becoming one of the largest local food delivery platforms.
I later joined a food delivery company in the Middle East for three years before joining Foodpanda, APAC. Asia is exciting. We are currently in 12 countries and about 400 cities. That’s a variety of different countries at different stages. Some are developed, while others are only developing, but growing fast, with huge populations. Yet, they’re still early in their transition towards technology. The market is complex and exciting.
Kr: How was it to go back to Iran to start a business?
PA: When I’m in Germany, I don’t feel fully German because of my roots. When I’m in Iran, I don’t feel fully Iranian because of my German heritage. Wherever I am, I feel like an outsider. The feeling was amplified in Iran. However, the purpose of me being there was to drive an impact on the economy. It was coincidentally at the time when Obama had lifted sanctions on Iran. I thought that was my calling to see what I had to bring back to my home country.
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