The scramble for tickets began the moment the email was received. After the increase in online food shopping during lockdown, Ocado was everywhere, so when the Entrepreneurship Society announced that Ocado Founder and CEO Tim Steiner would be visiting Eton, anticipation and excitement amongst students reached fever pitch. Tim met and exceeded these high expectations as he shared his story.
Starting his career with a placement at Goldman Sachs, Tim explained his intriguing journey and provided invaluable insight into the realities of starting a business. Having only had two jobs, Tim spoke about the difficult transition from a great job to having the courage to leave it in order to begin a start-up.
Tim’s ride has been full of ups and downs. A recent high point was when the number of customers visiting the website rose by 100% during the hour Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown in March 2020. The pandemic increased growth so quickly it was almost impossible for Ocado to meet the demand.
He also explored challenges he has faced in his career, including dealing with difficult business partners and competition from similar online services. It was particularly interesting to hear about his first tour during the early stages of Ocado. Upon arrival in Frankfurt, where an event was planned to celebrate the German launch, Amazon announced to the world that its identical online grocery service would be coming to Germany. “The entire event turned into a Q&A about Amazon’s service!” Having had a frustrating trip to Germany, he flew to his next destination, Edinburgh. He described the frustration upon landing when news came that Amazon had just announced arrival of its grocery service in Scotland!
An amazing number of questions from the audience were answered with honesty and humour, and ranged from the popularity of Ocado’s recent bonds to advice he would give his younger self. It was great to see an audience filling the Jafar Hall once again, so thank you to Tim for his visit and his fascinating talk.