Silentmode slurps up former GrabCar head, preps for expansion
By Anushia Kandasivam October 2, 2017
- Expanding services in a niche market through partnerships
- Providing tech F&B merchants’ needs before they know they need it
MALAYSIA-based software-as-a-service startup Silentmode Sdn Bhd raised RM2.5 million (US$595,080) in its series A funding in May this year from the Axiata Digital Investment Fund. The funding will be used to expand the team and accelerate market acquisition for its product Slurp!, a point-of-sale (POS) system designed specifically for the food and beverage industry.
As part of the growth plan, Slurp! has appointed former head of GrabCar Malaysia Lau Shi-Ying as director of strategy and partnership. Lau brings more than eight years of global experience in technology and consulting to Slurp!
Silentmode cofounder and chief executive officer Reza Fahmi Razali is confident that Lau’s experience of building GrabCar Malaysia from the ground up will allow her to successfully lead Slurp!’s local and regional expansion.
Reza says that because the local startup ecosystem has matured quite a bit in the last 10 years, there is a lot of talent available for startups to take advantage of, including middle- and senior-level talent from big home-grown companies such as GrabCar. “We’re very lucky that Shi-Ying, with her experience in GrabCar, was the right fit for Slurp!.”
Lau reveals that though the food and beverage industry, and specifically POS systems, is completely different from the car booking app space, she made the move because she saw great growth potential for Slurp! and Silentmode.
“The more I looked at Silentmode’s journey and its financial matrix, the more I felt the business is very healthy for a small startup. That really attracted me,” she says, adding that the team’s confidence in the product and loyalty to the startup even though it was operating extremely leanly in the beginning told her there was something special in the making.
Slurp! was launched in 2014 and Silentmode bootstrapped it until obtaining funding in May this year.
Another reason Lau was attracted to Silentmode was that as a builder of businesses – she was the person who built GrabCar up from scratch, quite a substantial process – building a new business in a different industry presented a challenge she could not resist.
New tech to meet market needs
With its focus on the food and beverage industry, Slurp! serves a niche market, but Lau says that there is still a lot of potential for growth. The product has currently penetrated about 2% of the market, though this includes mom-and-pop eateries and traditional stalls that still use pen and paper and no POS technology.
“This means we have a lot of opportunities to diversify,” says Reza (pic, right), who has knowledge of how the food and beverage industry works through a family-run food and beverage business.
“We need to give some of the power [of technology] to these small F&B owners,” he says, referring to the great potential for growth that data analytics offers Slurp! users. “We are not just a POS system. We call ourselves an F&B operations management solution.”
Slurp!’s system contains four main components – the POS interface Slurp Central, a dashboard that displays analytical data called Slurp Cloud, a waiter app that wait staff can use to take orders with, and Slurp API, an application programme interface that enables integration with third-party systems.
The cloud feature enables Slurp! users to get data on all transactions that take place in their restaurant direct from the cloud and into their own analytical services. Slurp! also provides data analytical services for users that need it.
Silentmode is creating a merchant engagement team to educate Slurp! users on current industry trends. “Based on our analysis of merchant data, we do find a need to educate the industry on certain trends, such as credit card and food delivery adoption,” says Lau.
According to the data, merchants who accept credit or debit card transactions have a higher monthly revenue that those who do not, as do those who offer a food delivery option.
The API feature enables restaurants to streamline their operations by integrating several systems – the POS and various food delivery apps, for example - into one console so that the staff do not have to use multiple devices to access the different systems. There are, of course, other products on the market that can do this but Reza says they are all less than five-years-old, just as Slurp! is; the market here is not has mature as it is in other parts of the world, particularly the US and Europe.
Instead of trying to compete with all other service providers, with Slurp! Silentmode is looking for partnerships that will enhance the product’s value for its users. “We obviously can’t provide delivery services, for example. So we partner with others to help our merchants directly. Some people believe in a closed ecosystem but we want to open up Slurp! for integration,” explains Reza.
Slurp! is currently in talks with potential partners for delivery services and an e-wallet service.
Reza does not believe that Slurp! is operating ahead of the curve but rather having services available that Silentmode knows merchants will soon require. The startup conducts thorough market research before deploying a new feature. “We see if there are requests from users and if we can find the right partner to work with before we deploy.”
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