March 2020 demonstrated to us all how swiftly our daily routines can transform. The pandemic caused an abrupt shift in work from conventional offices to home settings, leisure activities from the great outdoors to within our own walls, and shopping from physical stores to the digital interfaces of our devices. This time, shopping from the comfort of our armchairs was not just a luxurious or fashionable pastime, as had been portrayed in early 2000s advertisements; rather, it became a necessity.
Food delivery services from restaurants experienced a significant expansion during the pandemic, and the habits that emerged during that time have persisted and reinforced the need for this type of service. Even people who were previously hesitant to use such services were compelled to do so, leading to a newfound comfort with the process and a reduction in fears about making mistakes or being scammed. However, the emergence of foreign players in the market has led to the displacement of domestic services, and people have lost the familiar support of local providers.
This situation did not last for long. A group of enterprising individuals from the local community decided to reintroduce a trustworthy player to the Novi Sad market – a familiar face who could be summoned with a simple click and whose reputation preceded them. After two years of tireless work on their app, Dario, Mladen, Vladimir, and Nikola, with the invaluable support of BrightMarbles Group, succeeded in offering the people of Novi Sad a competitive experience. Their app boasts a modern and user-friendly design, along with innovative options for ordering and delivery. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the team members involved in this remarkable story and learn more about their exciting new features and benefits.
Since 2015, the Padrino brand has been synonymous with fast and high-quality delivery services for food and other products in Novi Sad. As a result, it is no surprise that the brand has amassed a large number of satisfied clients and business partners. However, we may wonder how Padrino operated before the launch of their app, and what inspired the idea for its development?
Dario: Our primary focus at Padrino was to provide delivery services for catering establishments that lacked their own delivery options, with up to 90% of our work falling into this category. We also acted as a personal courier service for individuals, delivering a wide range of items, such as groceries and personal belongings. Our operations were centered around delivering food orders that were placed by phone to restaurants and fast-food establishments. Although we launched a restaurant ordering app a few years ago, it did not meet our expectations and was shut down shortly after, despite providing satisfactory results. However, this experience demonstrated to us that there was potential for a digital solution in the food delivery industry in Novi Sad. The entry of foreign competitors into the market further spurred us to expedite the development of our own product. At Padrino, we have always prioritized staying up to date with technology and adapting to the demands of the digital age.
Vladimir: Dario had a vision for launching an application like this for a long time, even from the early days of Padrino, but the timing didn’t quite align until now. A while back, my friend Nikola and I started our own online catering service, together with an app, location, and all the excitement and challenges that come with entrepreneurship in our country. 😃 Naturally, we also needed a delivery service, which led us to meet Dario and Padrino. After discovering our shared passion for digitizing this type of business and after some attempts at integrating existing services, we decided to join forces and create something entirely new. It certainly worked to our advantage that restaurant owners were dissatisfied with unfair prices, and users were frustrated with high delivery fees and the convoluted services of larger systems. We recognized the opportunity and eagerly seized it. 😊
Mladen: During conversations with friends and restaurant owners, we noticed that there was a significant opportunity to improve the current offerings. Their comments and feedback all seemed to indicate the same thing – a desire for a new approach to business that was authentic and unique to Novi Sad. 😊 This desire for improvement and authenticity drove us to develop the new Padrino application, which is the result of teamwork, enthusiasm, and a strong commitment to digitizing the hospitality industry in Novi Sad.
What factors led to the decision to collaborate with BrightMarbles?
Dario: When we were in the process of seeking a partner to develop the new Padrino application, I had the good fortune of meeting Vladimir, and soon after, the rest of the team at BrightMarbles. The collaboration began smoothly and was highly successful from the outset. It was truly inspiring to witness how each team member, with their own unique set of skills and years of experience, complemented one another, resulting in a significant advantage for us at the start. We were able to provide valuable input to the developers about the important details and challenges of the delivery business, and in turn, we received high-quality software. The division of tasks and responsibilities was clearly defined, and communication was seamless, which enabled us to easily overcome any challenges. Based on our experience of working together, I believe that this collaboration, built on a strong relationship and quality team members, has a bright future. We are only at the beginning of great things in the food delivery industry.
Vladimir: We came to the realization that we were overly optimistic about the workload and that the three of us couldn’t handle the entire project within a reasonable time. So, we decided to seek the assistance of a reputable IT company, and BrightMarbles was the obvious choice. We had a good working relationship with them since Mladen was already part of the company, and I had previously worked with them as an external associate. Additionally, we were aware that BrightMarbles had experience in building startups and investing in them, which was crucial for us.
Mladen: The partnership with BrightMarbles is a culmination of our longstanding relationship built on mutual trust and respect. Our familiarity with each other made the collaboration process seamless and enjoyable. Effective communication was the cornerstone of our cooperation, and we believe it’s critical to any successful partnership. I’m confident that this is just the beginning of many exciting developments to come from our collaboration, and the food delivery industry can expect big things from our team.
What do you consider to be the main factors that have led to the success of both Padrino and BrightMarbles in their respective industries?
Dario: Since its establishment, BrightMarbles has been a company that specializes in developing innovative solutions and products for various industries. The company has always been technologically advanced and has constantly invested in the professional development of its employees. Additionally, the company values transparency and clear communication with its clients, which has led to building long-term and successful business relationships. BrightMarbles has also invested in various startup companies, providing them with not only financial support but also mentorship and guidance. This approach has contributed to the company’s success as a valuable partner in the development of various products and services. Overall, the success of both Padrino and BrightMarbles can be attributed to their commitment to excellence, innovation, and investment in the development of their employees and business processes.
Vladimir: The success of both BrightMarbles and Padrino can be attributed to several important factors. The first of these is a dedication to achieving top quality in every aspect of their business. This involves continually improving skills, knowledge, and technologies to best meet the needs of clients and partners. Another key factor is the teams’ approach to work, which emphasizes a sense of responsibility and commitment to projects. This enables each team member to take ownership of the project and make decisions that will contribute to its success. This level of commitment leads to greater efficiency and better outcomes for clients. Additionally, both teams prioritize building long-term partnerships with clients and associates. Each project represents an opportunity to learn, grow, and innovate alongside partners, providing support, knowledge, and experience to create innovative solutions that improve the industry. Finally, from a client’s perspective, Dario and the Padrino team are known for their exceptional communication and availability, always responding quickly and solving any issues that arise.
Mladen: The success of both teams can be attributed to their unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, always placing them as top priorities. This involves closely monitoring customers’ needs, providing prompt and efficient support, and adopting a proactive approach to problem-solving. Additionally, their ability to adapt to market changes and maintain a flexible approach has allowed them to remain competitive and continuously enhance their services. They not only follow industry trends but also anticipate future market needs to maintain their leadership position. The dedication and expertise of both teams are also crucial components of their success.
How did people in Novi Sad respond to the new application and the return of an old acquaintance under a new brand name, given that they are already familiar with major players in this industry?
Dario: Given Padrino’s established reputation as the “city courier” in Novi Sad, users were not taken aback by our new application. In fact, it demonstrated their perception of it as the natural progression of our services. The restaurants we have partnered with for years were pleased with the local response to the global food delivery platforms, and thanks to our good working relationships, they agreed to join our application. The app provides us with direct access to end-users, enabling us to forge stronger connections with the broader community in our city, rather than just being a delivery middleman.
Vladimir: Recently, we have received positive feedback from users, which is very satisfying. We have noticed comments on social media expressing appreciation for our service and surprise that no local delivery service had initiated this idea earlier. 😀 While our user acquisition rate is moderate, it is steadily growing. We observe a gradual increase in the number of profiles created on the app and the amount of daily deliveries. Currently, we have approximately 1,800 users and an average of 80 deliveries per day.
Mladen: We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from users about the application, and we actively seek to involve them in our development process. We value their input and encourage them to provide feedback, suggestions, and comments to help us improve our service. By building a strong relationship with our users, we can work together to create the best possible experience for them.
What are the main benefits that Padrino provides to restaurant owners over its competitors in the food delivery platform market? What reasons might a restaurant owner have for choosing to partner with Padrino instead of other food delivery platforms?
Dario: One of Padrino’s key advantages for restaurant owners is the round-the-clock availability of our service, which is unmatched by any other platform. Additionally, we offer delivery to any part of the city and suburbs, unlike our competitors who may impose delivery radius limits, particularly in unfavorable weather conditions. We have a team of couriers working in shifts to ensure we always have enough delivery personnel regardless of the time of day or weather. Furthermore, we provide Novi Sad restaurateurs with more favorable terms than the competition, as we believe that the percentage, they pay for our service should not be a burden on their business, but rather a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Vladimir: Padrino has a track record of being a reliable partner. Since the beginning, we have prioritized financial accuracy by refunding money to restaurants in a timely manner, with no calculation errors or delays. This is a distinct advantage that our competitors cannot claim. Equally important is our fee structure for orders, which is aligned with the market and designed to be mutually beneficial for both restaurants and us.
As we all know, starting a business or implementing a new plan can come with a variety of challenges. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while developing this app?
Dario: Forecasting all the administrative and financial processes associated with providing services to users and restaurants was the biggest challenge for us. As it was something new for us, we recognized the importance of ensuring that all procedures were accurate and timely to build trust with our clients.
Vladimir: The project involves a large and complex system, encompassing the scope of work, the domain, and various business processes. It brings together three main parties: the end user, the restaurant, and the delivery service. While we have already developed the core of the system, there is still much work to be done to ensure that our vision is fully realized, and that the system is technologically competitive.
Mladen: Ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience while incorporating multiple features was the biggest hurdle we faced while developing the application. However, we believe we have been successful in maintaining a balance between functionality and user experience.
Something surprised us in the new Padrino app that we haven’t seen in competitors before. What is it?
Dario: Indeed, we have received positive feedback regarding the “Surprise me” feature, which seems to be a favorite among our users. It’s not something we’ve seen in our competitors’ apps before, so we’re glad to have added this unique and exciting element to our platform.
Vladimir: The mastermind behind the “Surprise me” option is Mladen. When users are uncertain about what to order, they can select this option and the application will suggest a dish. This feature has received a lot of positive feedback from users, and rightfully so.
Mladen: As the number of restaurants on our platform grows, users are faced with an increasing number of choices, making it challenging for them to decide what to order. We also noticed that many users tend to stick to the same food items they know and trust. The “Surprise Me” option was designed to solve these problems by providing a fun and easy way for users to try new dishes and support local restaurants. We hope that this feature will help users discover new and exciting food options they may not have tried otherwise.
What upcoming developments should we anticipate from Padrino and BrightMarbles? How do you envision the future of the food delivery industry, and what strategies do you believe are most effective for adapting to market changes?
Dario: With the rapid advances in AI technology, it’s important for us to consider ways to integrate AI or machine learning into our platform, particularly with regards to our “Surprise Me” function. Our ongoing focus is on the development and expansion of our application’s offerings. The trend towards delivery services is only increasing globally, particularly after the pandemic. This presents a lot of potential and opportunities for growth, but we must be adaptable and responsive to the evolving needs of our users. This includes staying up to date with the latest technologies, such as drone delivery and robotics, as we’ve seen in other countries.
Vladimir: I believe there are many exciting things to expect from both our company and the market in the near future. Initially, we aim to fulfill the basic needs that are currently lacking, such as developing a web version of the application, a catering portal with statistics and data access, as well as a back-office application to automate our business processes. Beyond that, we have several innovative ideas that we would like to experiment with, including exploring the possibilities of artificial intelligence. In terms of market changes, while the pandemic caused an unsustainable surge, the trend towards time-saving delivery services will likely continue to grow as people have increasingly busy lives. We have noticed the rise of “ghost kitchens” competing for their share of the market. Overall, I am optimistic that the market will continue to thrive in the future.
Mladen: Regarding our future plans, I could make various promises, but I believe the best way to discover them is by installing the app and experiencing it firsthand. 😊 As for my vision for the future, I see more implementation of artificial intelligence, ordering assistants, personalized content, and placing the users at the center of the application. We will focus on the quality rather than the quantity of the offer.
Based on your responses, it seems that there are several key ingredients necessary for a successful venture, including a strong team, passion, an experienced IT player, and a bit of luck. Additionally, community support is essential for local success. With all of this in mind, we have just one question left: what do you personally order most frequently through Padrino?
Dario: I let Padrino surprise me. 😀
Vladimir: When I’m on a diet, I usually order Tortilla Casa, but when I’m not, I like to try different dishes from various restaurants.
Mladen: Pizzas, definitely, I could eat them every day.