From Cashback To Supper Delivery, These S’poreans Built Apps And Bots For A Better Life

These local developers have certainly made their mark in the global arena of apps.

There are more than 2.5 million apps across app stores and a typical user has only around 20 apps on their device. 

Out of these apps, messaging, social media and entertainment apps like WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are among some of the most common ones. The competition for the remaining apps is a very stiff one, as a user tends to quickly uninstall an app once it doesn’t meet their expectations or gets irrelevant. 

It’s clear that the mobile app market is very saturated, but these talented Singaporeans are not daunted by the competition and have instead built useful apps that have helped to make our lives easier.

1. Porterfetch

Image credit: Porterfetch

Porterfetch is a Singapore startup that wants to satisfy your late-night hunger pangs as it delivers food to your doorstep from 9pm to 3am. This is what makes them unique from other food delivery firms, which only operate during the typical opening hours. 

With Porterfetch, you no longer need to resort to ordering McDonald’s or head out in your pyjamas to grab yourself some food. 

With a wide variety of food offerings, founders Kenneth Ho and Daniel Chan shared that their list of merchants and menu is curated, so they deliver only “the best of the city”. 

Their service launched in Singapore in July 2017 to much fanfare, but getting there was not easy. They had many sleepless nights trying to come up with plans and prototypes of Porterfetch — from the website and app design, order management system, to the heat-insulated backpacks for their riders. 

To date, they’ve delivered to a diverse range of customers — from students burning the midnight oil, to workers who are on the graveyard shift. They are now looking to expand into a 24-hour operation, and go beyond food to deliver anything “from convenience stores to hardware, electronics and other essentials.”

2. Elk

Image credit: Elk

Brains behind the Elk app — Lin Junjie and Muh Hon Cheng — have been crowned winners of the Apple Design Awards (ADA) in 2017.

It is a huge achievement, considering that no other Singaporean has made it to the list for the past years and they were also the first winners to hail from Southeast Asia. 

Launched in April 2017, Elk is essentially a travel currency converter app. It was initially conceived as an Apple Watch app and the duo launched an iPhone version much later in the development process. 

Their inspiration for the app is a S$13 coffee in Hong Kong. “When I was in Hong Kong, I bought a coffee weighing scale for HK$98 from a cafe. While I was at it, I bought a cup of filter coffee for HK$78,” recounted Mr Lim.

It was only after he made payment did he started thinking about how much that cup of coffee really cost him. It came as a rude shock, since he had never paid anything near US$10 for a cup of black coffee. 

Five months, three trips, 3,777 Slack messages and many iterations later, the two of them finally launched Elk — a simple app that lets you quickly figure out how much something costs in the local currency when you travel overseas. 

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3. iTask 

Image credit: iTask

The notion that there is ‘so much to do, so little time’ rings true in Singapore’s fast-paced society. 

To cater to this time-starved crowd, founder Marcus Cheah co-built an app called iTask, which is a service marketplace that connects those who need to get things done, and those who can do things. 

Specifically, it allows users to go on the app to post a task, job or errand, and engage someone to help out with it. The tasks can range from helping to host a party, hand out flyers, fix stuff, or even move stuff for the house. 

It doesn’t matter how menial the task is, as long as it’s not illegal, stressed Mr Cheah. He added that iTask is an app that “harnesses the power of the sharing economy, (particularly) time and skills.”

“We are trying to help people, especially millennials, to make time for everything else other than time-consuming chores. Also, people who are short on money (can) reel in additional income.”

4. SG MRT 

Image Credit: Marcus Koh / SG MRT

Train breakdowns and disruptions have become a common occurrence in Singapore and such delays can get especially frustrating. Relating to this pain point, Marcus Koh felt that it would be very handy for commuters to be fed with first-hand information when such delays happen. 

At 22, the Computer Engineering graduate learnt how to build a Telegram bot on YouTube so commuters can easily access such information at their fingertips. 

Called SG MRT, the bot was initially developed to show the timings of train arrival at various stations. Now, the bot focuses more on pushing out other MRT-related information, such as breakdowns, delays and early closures.

Read Also: Who Says Tech is a No (Wo)man’s Land? These 10 Females in S’pore Prove Otherwise

5. Bridge

Image Credit: Bridge

The Bridge team is made up of co-founders Rafael Soh, Robert Xiu, Chai Jia Cheng; and software engineers Ng Mun Hin and Heng Teng Yi. They are all students from Raffles Institution and are aged between 15 and 16 years old. 

As teenagers themselves, the team feels that their demographic is being overlooked in terms of financial management so they’ve developed an app that serves as an e-wallet targeted at youths. 

Most teenagers are not financially literate with regards to saving and spending, as they rely on allowance for their daily expenses. According to Mr Soh, it gets “extremely inconvenient” when parents forget to disburse pocket money. 

He added that cash expenditure is hard to manage without any digital tracking, and while teenagers are savvy with mobile payments, not many actually own a bank card. 

After a few rounds of validation with hundreds of parents and teenagers, the team started working on Bridge in January 2019. They invested a lot of time and effort in making sure that the system is fraud-proof, and it was finally completed in about four months. 

With Bridge, teenagers can link their e-wallet to their parents’ bank account, through which they will be able to spend, budget and save their allowances. On the parents’ end, they can instantly transfer funds to their children’s e-wallet for a fuss-free transaction. 

6. ShopBack

Image Credit: ShopBack

ShopBack offers a novel approach to online shopping, letting online shoppers earn cashback from their online purchases, which can range from food to airline tickets. 

Basically, they can get back a portion of the amount spent when their purchase is made through its website or app. In other words, ShopBack will pay you money for shopping online! 

It is founded in 2014 by six Singaporeans — Henry Chan, Bryan Chua, Derrick Goh, Joel Leong, Lai Shanru and Samantha Soh.  

“The idea for ShopBack emerged when we saw the popularity of the cashback concept in Western markets, and (realised that) there was a gap in Southeast Asia. We want to capitalise on this opportunity and present the concept in a user-friendly and accessible manner,” said Mr Lai.

ShopBack now has more than 8 million registered users onboard, racking up an average of US$70 million in monthly sales and collectively receiving over US$30 million in cashback for their shopping. 

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