A former investment banker in his native Japan, Taku Tanaka moved to Vietnam in 2015 to get a taste of the local restaurant scene: unlike Tokyo’s, it looked dynamic and full of promise. As the COO of Pizza 4P’s, Taku was instrumental in helping the popular brand expand from one store in Saigon’s Little Tokyo to a mini-empire.
Since then, Taku has gone on to co-found KAMEREO that started as a B2B platform connecting restaurateurs to mom-and-pop suppliers, co-hosted Vietnam's F&B conference with Vietcetera, and most recently expanded into B2C with KameMart.
In this episode of Vietnam Innovators Taku talks about the role of tech in the restaurant business and explains how F&B owners and managers can become more efficient by digitizing the procurement process. Taku wants chefs to focus on cooking and serving the customers and leave the nitty-gritty of supplier negotiations to KAMEREO, an app-based e-commerce platform that aggregates supply and demand.
Supplying chefs and moms
During the lockdowns of 2020, Taku’s business slumped by 70%. Yet, despite covid wreaking havoc on the F&B sector, KAMEREO grew sixfold last year and this year the momentum is again in their favor.
Taku attributes this success to the country’s ability to successfully control the spread of the virus: Vietnam’s restaurants were allowed to reopen sooner than in most countries. And although many of those dependent on international tourists have gone out of business or saw their revenues plunge, Gen Z-friendly eateries are thriving.
With consumers increasingly choosing modern supermarkets over traditional wet markets, Taku’s team saw an opportunity in supplying some of the supermarkets too. Giving credit to Vietnam’s hard-working farmers and offering transparency to the customers is important to Taku — every piece of fruit and every egg tray is labelled and can be traced back to the farm.
Another attraction of KameMart is that it offers Vietnam’s households access to the same high-quality tomatoes, poultry and other produce that the city’s top chefs receive for their own pantries.