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Championing Hawkers With S$1.50 Delivery Fees: Rishabh Singhvi, WhyQ Co-Founder

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Rishabh Singhvi’s voice sounded slightly strained from the final time we spoke over the cellphone for a pre-interview for this month’s Entrepreneur of the Month (EOTM) characteristic.

He lamented that the WhyQ workforce has been working arduous to onboard new hawkers onto the platform and are busy dealing with the surge in orders, as a result of nationwide dining-in ban.

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It was solely the second week of the circuit breaker then, however the Covid-19 influence was clear to see. Now that the circuit breaker is prolonged for one more month, there may be certain to be deeper impacts.

For us, it has dampened our EOTM plans. We had already scheduled a face-to-face interview, a video interview, a photoshoot — the total works — with Rishabh, however they’ve now inevitably fallen by means of the cracks.

Whereas the circuit breaker spells destructive impacts for many companies, WhyQ — like many meals supply corporations in Singapore — are offered with a burgeoning alternative amid this Covid-19 disaster.

From India To Singapore

Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ / Picture Credit score: Vulcan Submit

Rishabh grew up in Kolkata, India, the place he lived together with his close-knitted household of 4.

Again residence, he attended a personal boys’ faculty and like every other youngsters his age, he “didn’t like exams” so it’s no shock that he “didn’t have the very best grades” both.

He described himself as a hands-on particular person as a substitute. He was extra concerned in extra-curricular actions like Nature Membership and Pc Membership.

Though he claims to not be a studious particular person, Rishabh was bent on pursuing a level and had his eyes set on a selected college in Singapore.

Members of the family and associates who studied on the Singapore Administration College (SMU) “at all times had good issues to say” about it, mentioned Rishabh.

He added that Singapore can also be very best when it comes to its geographic proximity — it’s solely a five-hour flight away, so it’s “not too removed from residence.”

He ended up pursuing a level in Data Techniques in Finance at SMU in 2008 because the course centered rather a lot on entrepreneurship matters — which is his foremost curiosity.

Apparently, the entrepreneurship blood runs within the household — his dad and elder brother runs a producing enterprise, whereas his sister-in-law runs her personal promoting company.

The now 30-year-old mentioned that his grandfather, who runs a producing firm for lubrication programs again in India, served as his greatest entrepreneur affect.

“I noticed the satisfaction he had in working his enterprise. Due to him, I wished to begin a enterprise too,” he mentioned.

Little did he know, it didn’t take lengthy for his ambition to grow to be a actuality. He’s now the proud co-founder of homegrown hawker supply agency WhyQ.

Falling In Love With S’pore’s Hawker Tradition And Meals

When he first moved to Singapore, Rishabh shared that he skilled a tradition shock: hawker centres.

Hawker centre is a new-fangled eating idea to him, because it’s non-existent again residence. In India, the closest different is the roadside stall, which oftentimes shouldn’t be very hygienic or crowded.

When he interned at American financial institution J.P. Morgan as a Market Knowledge Analyst, Rishabh shared that he was usually assigned to do hawker runs: shopping for meals for 20 to 30 individuals from Amoy Avenue Meals Centre.

Whereas some individuals would have hated the thought of ‘dabao-ing’ meals for others, Rishabh was fairly the other.

“I used to be completely satisfied to do it, even excited. In actual fact, I appeared ahead to the ‘hawker run’ days each week,” he mentioned.

A self-professed hawker foodie, Rishabh mentioned that as a substitute of the same old hawker fare like rooster rice or char kway teow, the vegetarian’s first style of hawker meals was combined rice (no meat dishes, after all) from a Malay stall.

He immediately fell in love with hawker meals — it was scrumptious and reasonably priced, he reasoned. However regardless of how a lot he liked hawker meals, he’s solely prepared to queue at a stall for 15 minutes at greatest.

For this reason he discovered it “mind-blowing” that Singaporeans are prepared to queue for meals, he mentioned, including that he usually witnessed workplace staff becoming a member of a hour-long queue for a bowl of fish soup.

They will stand in line on a busy day to queue up for meals so I believed they’d be prepared to pay slightly extra to get that very same meals delivered.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

Altering Up The S$2.5B Hawker Meals Business

At the moment, the hawker meals supply business was an untapped enterprise alternative as meals supply apps had been principally catering to eating places, eateries and cafes.

The business is now value S$2.5 billion a yr, mentioned Rishabh. Based on the Nationwide Atmosphere Company (NEA), there are 114 hawker centres and about 15,000 meals stalls in Singapore, excluding the a whole bunch of espresso outlets, meals courts, canteens and standalone meals outlets and stalls.

Rishabh famous one explicit ache level of current meals supply platforms: orders should hit a minimal quantity.

Lots of people order meals for themselves however they’ll’t “order independently” as a result of it’s a battle for them to hit the minimal order quantity, he mentioned.

His fellow course mate and roommate again in SMU, Varun Saraf, additionally confronted the identical predicament when he was working within the Central Enterprise District (CBD).

The younger duo ended up placing their heads collectively to develop an app that enables customers to pre-order or schedule their meals for supply.

whyq app
Picture Credit score: WhyQ

The enterprise mission is reflective of the corporate identify, which was impressed by a easy query: “why queue when you possibly can pay slightly extra to get meals delivered to you?”

The perfect half about their platform is that it has no minimal order quantity and a flat supply price of S$1.50 — which is by far, the most affordable in Singapore.

Based on Rishabh, that they had toyed with the choices of providing supply charges ranging between $1 and $2, however their survey revealed that $1.50 is a “candy spot” for most individuals.

As hawker meals is cheap, WhyQ intends to maintain it that approach even whereas delivering it.

But when they’re charging such low charges, are they really monetising?

[Our model enables] prospects to pre-order or schedule their meals for supply, which considerably reduces our price for supply. This makes our unit economics a lot better than different gamers.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

He defined that their economies of scale mannequin ensures that they’ll optimise their supply course of, rent fewer assets, and ship to a number of prospects at one go. This in flip helps to take away minimal orders and hold supply prices low.

How They Acquired Their First $150Okay Funding

whyq founders
Varun Saraf (left) and Rishabh Singhvi (proper), co-founders of WhyQ / Picture Credit score: WhyQ

Rishabh and Varun had been nonetheless working company jobs after they began WhyQ in 2016.

Rishabh particularly, was a Venture Supervisor at J.P. Morgan. He even utilized to be a Everlasting Resident right here in order that he may arrange an organization in Singapore.

The 2 pumped in $100,000 of their financial savings to make WhyQ occur.

They subsequently performed a profitable closed beta in Changi Enterprise Park, which prompted them to lastly launch their app to the general public.

It was additionally then that they determined it’s time for them to focus their full consideration on rising WhyQ. Rishabh picked a date for his final day of labor, handed in his 4 months’ discover, and by no means appeared again.

The next yr in January, they obtained $150,000 — their first spherical of funding — from three angel buyers.

We met them at a BANSEA (Enterprise Angel Community of Southeast Asia) networking session.

We spoke to them about the issue of not having any supply [service] specializing in hawker meals regardless of the large demand in Singapore and urged an answer on the right way to hold it reasonably priced by way of a batch aggregation mannequin which retains supply prices low.

They had been completely satisfied to see our ardour for the challenge and that we had taken the plunge to work on it full-time.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

Shortly after buying and selling his fits for tee and denims and receiving the angel funding, the app was launched in February 2017. The primary order got here in the identical month.

whyq food delivery
Picture Credit score: WhyQ

In addition they efficiently on-boarded the primary two hawker centres on their platform: Amoy Avenue Meals Centre and Maxwell Meals Centre, with about 10 hawker stalls every.

The proprietor of Amoy Avenue Meals Centre’s Spinach Soup stall was the primary hawker associate to onboard the platform and he has been one in every of their flag-bearers because the begin.

Rishabh was fast to credit score him as the person who constructed confidence for different hawkers to comply with swimsuit — by means of highly effective word-of-mouth.

Over time, their platform grew exponentially to incorporate extra hawker centres and hawker companions.

Celebrating Hawker Heroes Of S’pore

Getting hawkers onboard the platform was no imply feat. One of the vital vital challenges the duo confronted early on was not understanding Mandarin or dialects which may have helped them attain out to extra hawkers.

They had been totally on the bottom serving to with deliveries within the early days of the enterprise in order that they needed to talk with hawkers rather a lot and lots of of them don’t converse English. These days, they’ve ‘hawker captains’ to interact with hawkers who usually are not familiar with English.

However it was additionally throughout these instances when he noticed the arduous labour that hawkers put in from day to nighttime.

Most of them are family-run companies and so they come to the hawker centre at as early as 3am to begin getting ready meals for the day, leaving solely within the night after cleansing and washing.

Picture Credit score: WhyQ

Whereas foreigners have counseled our hawker centres because the melting pot of cultures, the hawker meals enterprise shouldn’t be as glamourous because it sounds — individuals are inclined to shun the lengthy hours of standing over the range in sweltering situations.

This sparked him to begin an initiative in 2017 referred to as #HawkersOfSG sequence, impressed by #HumansOfNewYork, to inform the untold tales of Hawker Heroes.

One fascinating story is how a hawker used to promote and trip Harley Davidson bikes, however now sells black pepper rice bowls. One other story is how one hawker switched his line of labor from promoting to turning into probably the most common hawker stalls through the 2008 recession.

Buying Competitor Plum’s Buyer And Hawker-Associate Base

By 2018, that they had raised S$1.2 million from angel buyers and different buyers who’re backers of GuavaPass and Caarly, the used automotive app firm which has been acquired by Carousell.

Whereas they’ve their wins, in addition they have their fair proportion of losses similar to every other startup firm.

Following Hong Kong meals supply agency Plum’s departure from the Singapore market in 2018, WhyQ absorbed their buyer and hawker-partner base however Rishabh mentioned it isn’t as vital as that they had anticipated.

He reasoned that it’s extremely possible as a result of Plum’s database consisted of a mixture of hawkers and eating places in distinction to WhyQ’s hawkers-only enterprise mannequin, therefore the misalignment.

Errors are inevitable in any entrepreneurial journey, particularly for somebody who has zero enterprise expertise however Rishabh was unfazed.

Picture Credit score: WhyQ

In that very same yr, they expanded their supply zones from the CBD to the heartlands as a result of “nobody desires to make use of an app that may solely be used from Mondays to Fridays,” mused Rishabh.

WhyQ went on to hit one other milestone — they launched a month-to-month subscription plan “to switch the tingkat service” in Singapore the next yr.

By the tip of 2019, WhyQ had over 2,200 hawker companions throughout 35 or extra hawker centres. They’ve plans so as to add extra centres and stalls to their community.

It additionally has a buyer base of 200,000 individuals and rakes in S$9 million income yearly.

Scoring Partnerships With Massive-Identify Companies

As a testomony to its success, WhyQ has scored partnerships with huge names like DBS Financial institution, Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and foodpanda.

Considered one of their angel buyers launched them to DBS, which was specializing in serving to the native meals scene in Singapore. DBS helped to sponsor, market and join them to essential events like NEA.

In addition they partnered with ESG since final yr to combination uncooked supplies suppliers on a single platform.

Hawkers often have totally different suppliers for numerous uncooked supplies comparable to greens, meat gadgets and dry items so WhyQ noticed the chance to combination them.

A “backward aggregation of uncooked supplies” would see it coordinate the availability of merchandise to hawker stalls, and work with suppliers to provide them in an environment friendly and cost-effective method.

Focused to launch someday within the second quarter of 2020 (this can be delayed as a result of circuit breaker), the answer will likely be made out there by way of the app, the place hawkers can select a number of suppliers to work with and order their provides from.

Picture Credit score: WhyQ

Their string of successes proceed as they went on to lift a Sequence A funding spherical earlier in February this yr with Supply Hero, the dad or mum firm of foodpanda. A part of this funding was for WhyQ to behave as a hawker aggregator for foodpanda.

The partnership noticed them working with foodpanda to onboard one other 80 hawker centres throughout the island by the tip of the yr, representing greater than 1,000 hawker stalls, on high of the 300 hawker stalls already on foodpanda.

Our API will likely be linked to foodpanda’s and any order positioned on foodpanda will move to WhyQ. Our WhyQ rider will then choose up the order from the hawker.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

With this partnership, WhyQ noticed a 70 per cent enhance in orders to hawker stalls as they proceed to drive extra site visitors and assist hawkers develop their companies.

With the addition of the Sequence A funding, this brings their complete funding to S$5 million to this point.

Serving to Hawkers And Healthcare Staff Amid Pandemic

The foodpanda partnership proved to be well timed as two months later, the federal government introduced that Singapore goes right into a circuit breaker, which noticed F&B retailers and Singaporeans turning to meals supply apps.

Rishabh knew that they needed to work quick as a result of their greatest break but was dangling in entrance of them. The workforce wasted no time and took solely someday to arrange the net registration portal for hawkers to allow them to onboard the app shortly.

Based on Rishabh, the app “exploded” — the variety of inquiries that got here in had been virtually 4 instances greater than after they simply had a devoted electronic mail.

With the overwhelming response from the hotline and on-line registration portal bolstered by Covid-19, they began seeing gold. Their numbers shot by means of the roof with 300 to 400 per cent enhance in customers and orders.

As a result of enhance in orders, they’ve everybody within the enterprise specializing in two points: hawker acquisition, and operations.

In addition they labored with NEA (which owns many of the hawker centres in Singapore) to get “particular permission to run their operations throughout circuit breaker interval”.

As well as, in addition they launched a public “Reward a Meal” programme for healthcare staff, which obtained “such an awesome response they needed to pause it”.

Donations and sponsorships from the general public amassed a complete of 15,000 meals, with every meal costing $4. On high of those donations, WhyQ was sponsoring 50 meals a day.

whyq gift-a-meal
Picture Credit score: WhyQ

In March, they started delivering the meals to healthcare staff in numerous hospitals comparable to Changi Normal Hospital, KK Ladies’s and Kids’s Hospital and Singapore Normal Hospital.

It wasn’t straightforward — collating dietary preferences was a problem and so they wanted to realize permission earlier than they may ship meals to the hospitals.

Regardless of the challenges, Rishabh noticed this initiative as a type of appreciation in the direction of the frontline staff. Moreover doing good, in addition they inadvertently helped to spice up ailing F&B companies by buying meals from them.

Entrepreneurship Is All About Eliminating Dangers

So what’s subsequent for WhyQ?

Rishabh admits that whereas the remainder of the meals business pie appears tempting, hawker meals will at all times stay their key focus as they recognise the extent to which they will help digitalise hawker stalls.

There are just a few meals supply apps available in the market, however there isn’t one that’s devoted for hawker meals supply. We wish to have WhyQ pop up in individuals’s minds each time they give thought to hawker meals supply.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

whyq rishabh singhvi
Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ / Picture Credit score: Vulcan Submit

Regardless of the successes WhyQ has had up to now, Rishabh admitted that he has his fair proportion of worries comparable to stepping into authorized troubles or working out of cash.

When requested if there’s at any level of his startup journey that made him wish to quit, he mentioned: “On a regular basis.”

It hasn’t been smooth-sailing for them. Their lack of enterprise information and expertise made for a “tough” transition when working their very own startup.

He knew that working a enterprise isn’t any stroll within the park, and that there could be a steep studying curve at the beginning.

Overcoming dangers include steering the wheel of a startup, and he has good recommendation on the right way to mitigate dangers.

Ask your self what you are able to do to eradicate as many dangers as potential so that you get the very best shot at being profitable within the enterprise.

Establishing a enterprise is about calculating the gap, checking the protection internet and parachute and ensuring you eradicate all of the dangers earlier than you go all in.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ

He’s positively a person who walks the speak.

For this reason he didn’t select to stop his full-time job to dive headfirst into establishing an organization — that’s akin to leaping off a cliff with no security gear, he mentioned.

He added that holding on to his full-time job allowed him to assist construct up his funds and make investments the cash into WhyQ to develop the enterprise. This enables prospects to proceed supporting and patronising their favorite hawker stalls with out the lengthy queues.

When requested to impart some parting recommendation to budding entrepreneurs, Rishabh mentioned that his enterprise mantra is impressed by Jeff Bezos, founding father of Amazon.

If you happen to construct a terrific expertise, prospects inform one another about that. Phrase of mouth could be very highly effective.

Entrepreneurs ought to deal with the value-add to prospects and on the general buyer expertise as a result of in case you get this proper, the product will promote itself.

– Rishabh Singhvi, co-founder of WhyQ


Entrepreneur Of The Month is a month-to-month Vulcan Submit sequence that identifies the ‘unsung heroes’ of the enterprise world, the place we zoom in on profitable entrepreneurs who stand out. From pioneers to disruptive startups, this sequence offers us an unique perception into their business trip and what it takes to be a game-changer.


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