Here are some notable home-grown companies that have started up, gained traction and even managed to scale their businesses to greater heights.
1. Ah Tan Wings
26-year-old Tan Wee Yang has become quite a recognised face among young ‘hawkerpreneurs’, for his dedication to the perfect har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) wings.
Even though he had no culinary training to back up an F&B business, it didn’t stop him from testing hundreds of cooking methods and variations—from sous vide to injections—until he found the winning recipe that would attract snaking queues to his pop-up stalls at various events.
Since Ah Tan Wings found its permanent home at Yishun Park Hawker Centre, the stall has been selling 600 to 900 fried chicken wings each day.
His business is still young, but Wee Yang has already branched out to a new product just over a year after the opening of his hawker stall.
In October 2018, he introduced his own brand of ‘cereal prawn chips’, WOKWOK, once again a creation stirred up from another popular zi char dish.
honestbee was new to the grocery delivery scene in 2015, coming in after FairPrice Online and RedMart were established. But the startup quickly worked up a buzz in just 6 months, expanding to 4 cities, with 150 staff in Singapore.
Started by co-founders Joel Sng, Isaac Tay and Jonathan Low, honestbee lets customers buy groceries from a variety of shops online, and later added food delivery and laundry services to its offerings too.
They now have over 20,000 concierge shoppers they call their “shopper bees”, who can earn up to S$1,200 a week helping people pick up and deliver groceries.
This year, honestbee merged online and offline experiences by creating a ‘NewGen Retail’ concept, habitat—a 60,000 sq ft supermarket and dining space integrated with tech. It offers a fully-automated cashless check-out using its beepay e-wallet, complete with robots to pack your orders.
With habitat, honestbee is also creating a space to help global F&B entrepreneurs expand their brands both online and offline.
3. Lloyd’s Inn
Before receiving a new lease of life, the hotel had little brand value to its name. It was simply a functional place where travellers could stay right next to Orchard Road for $70 a night.
The current-day hotel is now an elegant, minimalist haven, drawing in both tourists and Singaporeans who’ve hopped on the ‘staycation’ trend. With visual storytelling and social media marketing, Lloyd’s Inn became highly sought after and more than doubled its average daily occupancy.
This year, Joan made a daring move to take the brand into the saturated tourist hotspot of Bali, and will also be opening the Inn’s third location in Kuala Lumpur in 2019.
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Former advertising copywriter Omar Marks decided to try introducing ‘DIY sushi’ to Singaporeans in 2012, an idea he thought would be fun, fresh and engaging for customers.
With its first outlet in the basement of The Cathay, Maki-San started winning the hearts of students in the area, from SMU, SOTA, Kaplan, LASALLE and NAFA.
Marks and his partners had no capital left after securing their rental location, renovating it, and investing in a memorable branding design. So when it came to marketing, they did it all themselves, approaching every blogger, media outlet, and even passers-by to get them interested.
Today, Maki-San serves 5,000 sushi rolls a day at 17 outlets around the island. What comes as a greater surprise is that the home-grown chain was able to start a franchise in Osaka, Japan this year. In 2019, Maki-San will next be rolling into Tokyo too.
Look for F&B jobs on MyCareersFuture.sg now.
Speedoc is one of the companies that’s changing the healthcare landscape in Singapore by providing on-demand medical services to patients at any location. Just launched in 2018, the Speedoc mobile app lets users call for a doctor to come to their home 24/7, as easily as they would book a driver online.
Founded by Dr. Shravan Verma, who’s had years of experience in Singapore public hospitals, the healthcare startup has gathered data about their users’ demographics and the most common illnesses people call a doctor for. They’re also supported by the Ministry of Health under its Licensing Experimentation and Adaptation Programme (LEAP).
The 29 doctors on Speedoc’s platform have made about 700 visits so far. Moving forward, the company is looking at ways to lower their consultation prices, and will also go beyond house calls into in-app follow ups and video calls in 2019.
6. Style Theory
Source: Style Theory
Singapore is home to a number of successful blogshops and fashion startups. But instead of creating their own label, this company is letting shopaholics share designer outfits so they can unlock an ‘infinite wardrobe’.
Style Theory works as a subscription service that charges its members a fixed monthly price, and lets them rent 3 items at a time, for as many times as they want. The company takes care of laundry and shipping as well, making every part of the process convenient.
During their soft launch to 150 people in 2016, back when co-founders Raena Lim and Chris Halim operated out of a small apartment unit, the service was fully subscribed within a month.
Style Theory is filling a gap for fashion-lovers, while also reducing the environmental impact caused by our fashion consumption. Now, the company has about 70,000 active users in total, following its expansion into Indonesia.
With backgrounds in engineering and accountancy, Frank Phuan and Lawrence Wu set up a solar energy business, Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd, in 2011.
As the trend towards renewable energy was still on a gradual rise, they initially struggled to secure significant funding, and often had to educate financial institutions on their business model. Additionally, not many construction firms were experienced with solar panels at the time, requiring them to train workers for their massive projects.
Sunseap installed solar panels across 40 HDB blocks for their first project, and has since installed them on thousands more. Now, they are also the sole provider of power to Singapore’s Apple Store.
Beyond home, Sunseap is bringing solar panels to rooftops in Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, India, Malaysia, and Australia, where they also target rural areas that can benefit from renewable energy most.
Bring It On, 2019!
Across different industries, from F&B and fashion, to healthcare and energy, these Singapore companies have been creating new types of value for consumers and businesses over the past years.
While they’d all started up from the dust at one point of time, their work has since given rise to unique ideas, greater convenience, and memorable experiences.
We look forward to seeing where their entrepreneurial spirit takes these local founders, as they continue to pump in the elbow grease to reach new milestones in 2019.