Day: May 10, 2019

Singapore’s Grain, a profitable food delivery startup, pulls in $10M for expansion

Cloud kitchens are the big thing in food delivery, with ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new business one contender in that space, with Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, a major focus. Despite the newcomers, a more established startup from Singapore has raised a large bowl of cash to go after regional expansion.

Founded in 2014, Grain specializes in clean food while it takes a different approach to Kalanick’s CloudKitchens or food delivery services like Deliveroo, FoodPanda or GrabFood.

It adopted a cloud kitchen model — utilizing unwanted real estate as kitchens, with delivery services for output — but used it for its own operations. So while CloudKitchens and others rent their space to F&B companies as a cheaper way to make food for their on-demand delivery customers, Grain works with its own chefs, menu and delivery team. A so-called ‘full stack’ model if you can stand the cliched tech phrase.

Finally, Grain is also profitable. The new round has it shooting for growth — more on that below — but the startup was profitable last year, CEO and co-founder Yi Sung Yong told TechCrunch.

Now it is reaping the rewards of a model that keeps it in control of its product, unlike others that are complicated by a chain that includes the restaurant and a delivery person.

We previously wrote about Grain when it raised a $1.7 million Series A back in 2016 and today it announced a $10 million Series B which is led by Thailand’s Singha Ventures, the VC arm of the beer brand. A bevy of other investors took part, including Genesis Alternative Ventures, Sass Corp, K2 Global — run by serial investor Ozi Amanat who has backed Impossible Foods, Spotify and Uber among others — FoodXervices and Majuven. Existing investors Openspace Ventures, Raging Bull — from Thai Express founder Ivan Lee — and Cento Ventures participated.

The round includes venture debt, as well as equity, and it is worth noting that the family office of the owners of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — Sassoon Investment Corporation — was involved.

Grain covers individual food as well as buffets in Singapore

Three years is a long gap between the two deals — Openspace and Cento have even rebranded during the intervening period — and the ride has been an eventful one. During those years, Sung said the business had come close to running out of capital before it doubled down on the fundamentals before the precarious runway capital ran out.

In fact, he said, the company — which now has over 100 staff — was fully prepared to self-sustain.

“We didn’t think of raising a Series B,” he explained in an interview. “Instead, we focused on the business and getting profitable… we thought that we can’t depend entirely on investors.”

And, ladies and gentleman, the irony of that is that VCs very much like a business that can self-sustain — it shows a model is proven — and investing in a startup that doesn’t need capital can be attractive.

Ultimately, though, profitability is seen as sexy today — particularly in the meal space where countless U.S. startups has shuttered including Munchery and Sprig — but the focus meant that Grain had to shelve its expansion plans. It then went through soul-searching times in 2017 when a spoilt curry saw 20 customers get food poisoning.

Sung declined to comment directly on that incident, but he said that company today has developed the “infrastructure” to scale its business across the board, and that very much includes quality control.

Grain co-founder and CEO Yi Sung Yong [Image via LinkedIn]

Grain currently delivers “thousands” of meals per day in Singapore, its sole market, with eight-figures in sales per year, he said. Last year, growth was 200 percent, Sung continued, and now is the time to look overseas. With Singha, the Grain CEO said the company has “everything we need to launch in Bangkok.”

Thailand — which Malaysia-based rival Dahamakan picked for its first expansion — is the only new launch on the table, but Sung said that could change.

“If things move faster, we’ll expand to more cities, maybe one per year,” he said. “But we need to get our brand, our food and our service right first.”

One part of that may be securing better deals for raw ingredients and food from suppliers. Grain is expanding its ‘hub’ kitchens — outposts placed strategically around town to serve customers faster — and growing its fleet of trucks, which are retrofitted with warmers and chillers for deliveries to customers.

Grain’s journey is proof that startups in the region will go through trials and tribulations, but being able to bolt down the fundamentals and reduce burn rate is crucial in the event that things go awry. Just look to grocery startup Honestbee, also based in Singapore, for evidence of what happens when costs are allowed to pile up.

DumbLittleMan’s Ultimate Gift Guide for Mother’s Day 2019

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and finding the perfect gift for such a special occasion can be a really overwhelming task, particularly if you’re a last minute shopper.

That’s why, to help you out, we’re sharing with you the best Mother’s Day gift ideas you can give to every supermom on your list. Whether your mom is into baking, beauty, getting fit or indulging in a relaxing spa day at home, we’ve got you covered.

Baker’s Decorating Pipes: Kootek 42 Pieces Cake Decorating Supplies Kit

This cake decorating supplies kit is a treat for moms who love to bake. With 36 stainless steel icing tips and different decorating patterns, you will surely enjoy using it on your cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. The tips are easy to use and clean as well.

Anti-Aging Serum: ToLB Retinol Serum

Get smooth and refreshed skin with this serum. Perfect for all skin types, this retinol serum can help counter the effects of aging on your skin. It’s formulated to specifially target age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines.

Beer Chiller: Brew House Beer Chillers

Moms deserve a break and what better way to relax and unwind than to have a really cold bottle of beer after a stressful day. These beer chillers are designed with 4 flow holes so you can enjoy really cold beer.

Stationery: Q&A a Day for Moms

This is the perfect gift to encourage mindfulness in moms who are living a really busy and stressful live. Filled with really meaningful questions, it’s a good tool to unload your thoughts and feelings about motherhood and life in general.

Paleo Cookbook: Thug Kitchen Cookbooks

Encourage healthy eating with this cookbook. It features really great recipes that both beginning and expert cooks will be able to use. It includes a lot of instructions to help you make everything from sauce to really delicious meals.

Beauty Soap Bars: Bali Soap – Natural Soap Bar Gift Set

These soaps aren’t like your ordinary bath soaps. Containing an exotic blend of organic ingredients, they are a sure treat to your senses. They create a really nice and creamy lather to moisturize your skin. They also have invigorating scrubs to remove dead skin cells and reveal healthier skin.

Budget Planner: Boxclever Press Budget Planner

Make mom’s life easier with this budget planner. It offers an easy way to organize the family’s savings, budgets, debts, and allowances. It has trackers for monthly bills so it’s easier to see which ones are due soon. It even has a special section so you can easily track the family’s expenses on special occasions, like Christmas.

Salt Lamp: Himalayan Glow HS-1301B Tall Round Natural Salt Lamp

This salt lamp can warm mom’s heart on her special day. It’s designed to purify negative ions so your home can enjoy cleaner air. It can help get rid of dander, smoke, pollen, and other pollutants. The lamp is made from natural Himalayan salt crystals.

Silk Sleep Mask: Asutra, Weighted Silk Eye Pillow

When you’re a mom running a very busy household, it can be challenging to get a good night sleep. So, with this Mother’s Day, give your mom this really comfortable silk eye pillow. It has organic lavender which is known to promote sleep.

Handbag Organizer: ZTUJO Purse Organizer Insert

This purse organizer can be a life changer for most moms. It features 13 total purse organizers, 3 exterior pockets, and 10 interior pockets. With so much storage, mom will be able to keep most of her items in a neat and organized way. No more losing keys, lipsticks or cards!

Makeup Organizer: Sanipoe 360 Rotating Makeup Organizer

This makeup organizer might look small but it actually has a large capacity. It can keep a minimum of 30 brushes and about 20 skincare products. It also has enough rooms for nail polishes, lipsticks, and other cosmetic products. Made of acrylic, it’s easy to clean and use.

Activity Tracker: Letsfit Fitness Tracker

For the active moms, this fitness tracker will make an excellent gift. It’s waterproof and compatible with smartphones with Android 4.4 and iOS 7.1 It tracks the heart rate and vibrates to alert you of a call or message.

Home Spa Gift Set: Lovery Mother’s Day Home Spa Gift Basket

Pamper your mom this Mother’s Day with this home spa gift set. It comes wih a shower gel, bubble bath, bath salt, body lotion, body scrub, and other spa essentials. With a fresh floral scent, this basket promotes deep relaxation. Don’t forget to add a personalized note!

Bathtub Caddy: Bambusi Bathtub Caddy Tray

Make bath time even more relaxing with this bathtub caddy. It holds tablet and smartphones pretty well, allowing you to watch your favorite series or just browse the internet. It can even hold books. It’s adjustable to any bathtub so you won’t have to worry about your things falling into your bath.

Facial Steamer: Zenpy Nano Ionic Facial Steamer

Dry and dehydrated skin can make you look older than you really are. Good thing there’s this nano facial steamer to quickly hydrate and moisturize your skin. Apart from promoting glowing skin, it can also help reduce stress, promote better sleep, and relieve fatigue. The steamer also comes with a blackhead remover kit and a really cute hair band.

Tracker: Tile Pro

Track your phone, keys, wallet, purse, and everything else you don’t want to lose with the Tile Pro. It can detect your items within 300 feet Bluetooth range. Just double press the Tile button and it’ll ring loudly. With its dedicated app, it’ll show you the last place and time you had your missing item.

TV Stick: Roku Streaming Stick+

For a stronger and smoother streaming, get your mom this Roku Streaming Stick. It gives 4x the range and a clear, immersive picture quality. You can search through more than a thousand channels to watch your favorite shows. It even has an app which you can download on your Android and iOS devices.

Hair Curler: CHI Air Spin N Curl Products

CHI Air Spin N Curl can help you create really flawless curls in just seconds. It features a customizable temperature so you can style your hair without having to worry about damaging it. Plus, it also helps reduce static and frizz. It’s a great hair styling tool for busy moms.

Foot Spa Massager: Ovitus Foot Spa Bath Massager with Heat

This Ovitus Foot Spa Bath Massager provides heat to soothe tired and achy feet. It features a fully automatic motorized roller that targets your feet’s acupuncture point. Combining heat therapy and acupressure, it promotes better blood circulation as well.

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