This S’pore Startup Went Towards The ‘Grain’ And Ran Cloud Kitchens Earlier than They Received Standard

This S’pore Startup Went Against The ‘Grain’ And Ran Cloud

“We have been one of many very first few cloud kitchens that served clients with out a storefront again in 2015.”

“This was earlier than the phrases ‘cloud kitchen’, ‘ghost kitchen’ or ‘darkish kitchen’ even existed,” stated Yi Sung Yong, CEO and co-founder of Grain Singapore.

In 2014, the Grain staff discovered themselves asking the identical query each single day: ‘What can we eat at the moment?’

It’s a first-world downside and alongside the identical vein, on a regular basis consuming ought to be as simple as a number of faucets in your cellphone — not some brain-cracking math query.

This sparked the concept for Grain to be online-first.

“This enables us to make use of knowledge and a tech-enabled community to assist us serve meals to our clients that satisfies our core wants — a wholesome, tasty, reasonably priced and handy meals expertise.”

Sung, along with three different co-founders — Ernest Sim, Gao Rifeng, and Isaac Tan — launched Grain in 2014.

(Clockwise from prime left) Yi Sung Yong, Ernest Sim, Gao Rifeng and Isaac Tan / Picture Credit score: Forbes

Their intention is to supply health-conscious, taste-conscious and on a regular basis meals, working with their very own staff of cooks and supply fleet in a so-called “full-stack” mannequin.

Operating Cloud Kitchens Earlier than They Had been Cool

Most meals tech startups like foodpanda and Deliveroo companion eating places to ship cooked meals to clients.

Nevertheless, Grain’s co-founders went for a unique method.

They adopted a cloud kitchen mannequin — utilising undesirable actual property house as kitchens.

Whereas cloud kitchens hire their house to F&B firms as a less expensive strategy to make meals for his or her on-demand supply clients, Grain works with its personal cooks, menu and supply staff.

Grain meal boxesPicture Credit score: Grain

Their menu is designed by in-house cooks, and the platform options shared meals for teams, in addition to meal field combos that include sides and drinks. There are additionally desserts to cleanse the palate.

An everyday meal prices from S$10.95 whereas their combos value from S$16.95.

In addition to particular person meals, the startup additionally serves buffet catering for company occasions and events throughout pre-COVID-19 days. These dishes are additionally developed by their R&D staff and cooks.

Grain kitchenGrain kitchen / Picture Credit score: Grain

Customers can place their orders by way of the web site or cellular app by a typical e-commerce platform course of.

All meals is ready and packed inside Grain’s personal services, then delivered to clients by their very own fleet of couriers.

We have been, and nonetheless are, one of many solely ones setting the usual for full-stack — controlling all the pieces from ordering (tech) to cooking (meals) to delivering (logistics). 

By pushing the bounds of how meals makes us really feel, we will construct a group that has just one factor on their thoughts: ‘What’s going to we eat subsequent?’

– Yi Sung Yong, CEO and co-founder of Grain

Turning Worthwhile Inside 4 Years

They began the enterprise with lower than S$100,000 and after a 12 months, Grain crossed the S$1 million income run fee.

That is no imply feat as among the many 4 co-founders, solely one among them has F&B expertise and is a chef.

Isaac had educated underneath movie star chef Gordon Ramsay and is the principle creator of the dishes on the menu.

grain meal boxPicture Credit score: Grain

Albeit attaining success early into the enterprise, Sung stated that they confronted challenges.

We had to determine lots of issues from scratch and use first rules to unravel industry-specific issues as we weren’t skilled F&B people.

[Most of us] have been ex-management consultants, software program guys making an attempt to disrupt F&B. 

– Yi Sung Yong, CEO and co-founder of Grain

Nevertheless, Sung shared that “software program and consulting gave [them] the technical abilities and clear-thinking wanted to construct Grain.”

They acquired their very first exterior funding in January 2016 — a S$2.5 million Sequence A spherical led by Openspace Ventures.

Grain Team in 2016Grain Workforce in 2016 / Picture Credit score: Grain’s Fb web page

One other Sequence A spherical was known as on the finish of the 12 months and Openspace Ventures participated once more and injected a further S$1.7 million into Grain.

These 4 younger gamechangers — their present common age is 32 — quickly acquired recognition and landed themselves on the Forbes 30 Underneath 30 Checklist in 2016.

Whereas a full-stack mannequin permits them to manage all the pieces, it additionally offered challenges. They have been initially hamstrung by a small staff of workers, and operated from a house kitchen.

When it upgraded to a sprawling new workplace fitted with an industrial kitchen in 2017, Grain needed to shortly adapt its processes.

Subsequently, a enterprise spherical in February 2018 led by First Gourmand, FoodXervices and Majuven raised them one other S$1.7 million.

By December 2018, Grain achieved profitability, which was “an enormous milestone for [them], as a result of it proves that [they] have what it takes to be a sustainable firm.”

One Of S’pore’s Quickest-Rising Corporations

grain deliveryPicture Credit score: Grain

Their newest spherical of Sequence B funding in Could 2019 raised US$10 million (S$13.6 million) led by Thailand’s Singha Ventures.

They have been delivering “1000’s” of meals per day in Singapore — its sole market — with eight-figure gross sales per 12 months, Sung shared in a 2019 interview with TechCrunch.

Development was 200 p.c in 2018 and it was quickly time to unfold their wings abroad. The startup started seeking to broaden to different Asian cities, beginning with Bangkok. 

The funds raised would allow them to work with Singha to leverage its intensive F&B community throughout the nation, together with logistics and distribution.

grain foodMarriage ceremony menu / Picture Credit score: Grain

By then, the 2019 funding spherical and enterprise progress ranked Grain fifth amongst Singapore’s fastest-growing firms, in response to a research carried out by The Straits Instances and Statista.

In Could 2020, Grain made its entrance into Thailand and opened three new branches in Bangkok in July.

They’ve additionally launched into 5 new initiatives: Wokaholic (American-Chinese language meals), Sizzling Chick Buns (chicken-centric quick meals), Holy Kao! and Krua Soi 9 (Thai favourites), and Fareground (a digital meals corridor).

Cloud Kitchens Come To The Rescue

Sung, who’s Malaysian, shared that in Covid-19, “B2B took an enormous hit with workplaces going distant, however B2C skilled 10 occasions progress throughout this era.”

With Singaporeans compelled to remain and work from home, meals supply noticed an enormous surge in demand.

Grain additionally shortly noticed a chance to utilise their cloud kitchens to make bubble tea when standalone bubble tea shops have been ordered to shut.

We reached out to the KOI executives on the identical day. Inside three days, we signed a deal and constructed up a bubble tea manufacturing facility in one among our chilly kitchens.

We bought tens of millions of dollars of bubble tea throughout this era. 

– Yi Sung Yong, CEO and co-founder of Grain

Singaporeans may proceed having fun with their favorite drink because of the partnership.

With the pandemic inflicting the closures of F&B institutions in all places, cloud kitchens have emerged as a F&B different because the industry adapts to shifting shopper demand.

Cajun Grilled Chicken grainCajun Grilled Hen / Picture Credit score: Grain

Simply as co-working and shared workplace areas have been touted as doable options for firms to supply the choice of versatile workplace house as soon as the disaster subsides, shared cloud kitchens may additionally assist ease the monetary burden on eating places in the case of renting kitchen house.

As well as, the growth of cloud kitchens may assist choose up the slack created by in-house eating places being compelled to shut because of the financial fallout of the virus.

The following initiatives on their plate: launching high-quality manufacturers with lots of buyer love and productising their restaurant tech stack, Grain Atlas, that desires to turn out to be the “working system” of F&B.

“We will even open up new cities slowly after we really feel we’re prepared to supply an important buyer expertise,” stated Sung.

Featured Picture Credit score: Basic Meeting / Grain

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Shop By Department