Hungry in Penang? Then DeliverEat
By Gabey Goh October 18, 2013
- DeliverEat has a mission to make mealtimes less of a hassle for community in Penang
- Eyes expansion to other states in the country and eventually, South-East Asia
EVER got back home from a hard day at work only to realise that you need to figure out what to do about dinner?
If you live in Penang, a burgeoning startup is hoping your next thought would be of them.
DeliverEat holds claim to being the northern Malaysian state’s first doorstep food delivery portal that allows anyone to enjoy a vast variety of food, from western to local delights.
Founded by Leong Shir Mein and Tan Suan Sear (pic) in April 2012, the startup has since garnered 75 restaurants in its directory, boasting a menu selection of about 2,500 items.
The 75 restaurants signed up with DeliverEat include chain restaurants such as Chatime, Kenny Rogers, Secret Recipe, Old Town, BlackBall, Tong Pak Fu, Sushi King and Sakae Sushi.
In an interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), Leong said that the duo realised that the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry was a very competitive space to be in. In addition, smaller retailers have very limited resources for marketing and sales activities as the bulk of resources is spent on operations and renovations.
“With that being said, marketing and sales generation strategies are very important elements in ensuring that F&B retailers continue to grow,” she said.
Once the idea to provide an online food ordering and delivery service to help F&B outlets achieve their business goals was formalised, Leong and Tan realised that they needed funding to get themselves off the ground.
“We didn’t have any financial resources; that’s when we begin looking for government grants,” she said.
Financial support from the government finally came in the form of an RM150,000 conditional grant from Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, an agency under Malaysia's Ministry of Finance.
“We wouldn’t have been able to realise our dreams if it wasn’t for Cradle’s pre-seed funding. They not only provided financial resources but also gave us invaluable guidance, mentorship and networks as well,” said Leong.
The DeliverEat mission is to “solve mealtime inconveniences for customers,” bringing food to their doorstep with no delivery fee. At the same time, the startup also aims to assist F&B partners in increasing their brand exposure and sales generation.
“By collaborating with us, not only will restaurants be able to offer their customers the convenience of food delivery but also have access to online publicity that they usually have very little time to manage,” Leong said.
Getting the right door
Leong (pic) shared that the DeliverEat journey so far “has been a dream come true” in terms of career development and personal development.
Cofounder Tan holds a Master's of Science (Telecommunications) and has worked at several multinational telecommunications companies in Penang, with a brief stint in sales as a personal wealth financial consultant.
Leong describes Tan as a great motivator, bringing the team together and bringing the best out of every one. “His passion for DeliverEat is undeniable. He works up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Leong herself, holds a Master's in Business Administration, and was previously working for Star Publications in its advertising department, with core skills in operations and marketing.
“I feel that this business is a perfect match for my personality and I am loving every minute of my time at DeliverEat,” she said.
When asked what the biggest challenge has been to date, Leong said that hiring talent was one as the company is not able to compete with bigger multinational companies in terms of salary to recruit the best talent.
“Managing delivery crews is also a difficult task. We constantly strive to motivate them and share our core values with them to help them realise the significance of their job,” she said.
When asked about the technology which underpins DeliverEat’s offering, Leong said the conventional way of communicating with the restaurants and delivery crews is expensive, messy and prone to errors.
“Therefore to help solve that problem, we have developed our own order notification system to notify the restaurants and delivery crews,” she said.
The team’s passion is to see DeliverEat grow and continue being a market leader in Penang and other states, with Leong noting that the best reward and source of motivation to keep going is happy customers.
“The best reward is when we hear happy customers telling us how much they love our services. Quite frequently, we do send meals as a surprise from customers overseas in a long-distance relationship or children giving their parents a treat,” she said.
“We hope to continue serving the people in our community and make in difference in the lives of our partners and customers,” she added.
Leong claimed that the company also boasts many repeat and loyal customers.
“We have 2.6 times repeat customers. I believe that its due to our good service that encourages customers to keep coming back. We attribute it to the good delivery crews that we have.
"We believe that every employee is an asset to our company and appreciate the contribution from everyone in the team as they play a significant role in the development of DeliverEat,” she said.
Knocking on more doors
In terms of standing out from the competition, Leong said that what differentiates DeliverEat from other players is its local origins and true understanding about what its customers crave for. In addition, the company claims to have the widest coverage area for the state.
One other player in the market is Rocket Internet’s Food Panda, which extended its delivery service to Penang in late April of this year, initially offering free delivery.
When asked what it has been like sharing the same space as Food Panda, Leong said that the team is “glad” to see competitors coming into the Penang market as “this proves that there’s a demand for this service.”
In terms of a business model, the company operates on a commission basis, charging partners a small fee for each order that it sends. “We are also the only food delivery company that does not charge a delivery fee.”
Market demand for what DeliverEat offers and its potential impact was further validated with the injection of a six-figure investment by Singapore-based Crystal Horse Investments Pte Ltd and Malaysia-based angel investor Tan Swee Yeong in August. The founding duo still retains the majority of equity.
According to Leong, the funds are being used to stabilise its business operations in Penang and accelerate its expansion into other states.
As part of that expansion strategy, the company also recently acquired Kuala Lumpur-based mobile loyalty platform ChopChop, which will soon be introduced to its customer base, an integration aimed at assisting F&B partners attract and retain more dine-in customers.
“Ultimately we have to expand to all the major cities in Malaysia and also to other South-East Asian countries,” she said.
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