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Daily Markup #107: Singapore food startup Grain on their 10x growth during the pandemic; MyCash…

500 Southeast Asia Team



Going against the grain

  • 500-backed Grain was utilizing cloud kitchens before the term even existed, revealed Yi Sung Yong, CEO and co-founder of 500-backed Grain, to Vulcan Post.
  • “We were one of the very first few cloud kitchens that served customers without a storefront back in 2015. This was before the terms ‘cloud kitchen’, ‘ghost kitchen’ or ‘dark kitchen’ even existed.”
  • Grain started in 2014 to provide a tasty, affordable, healthy, and convenient food experience. Hence, it adopted an online-first approach, allowing consumers to order via an app or the website.
Credit: Grain
  • The menu is designed and cooked by in-house chefs at Grain’s facilities and processed by its own delivery team.
  • “We were, and still are, one of the only ones setting the standard for full-stack — controlling everything from ordering (tech) to cooking (food) to delivering (logistics). By pushing the limits of how food makes us feel, we can build a community that has only one thing on their mind: ‘What will we eat next?’, Sung said.
  • Grain’s unique approach to the food delivery experience has been paying off. Growth was 200% in 2018 and it expanded to Thailand, thanks to a US$10 million round from Singha Ventures.
  • Sung also noted that while B2B businesses were severely impacted during Covid-19, B2C experienced 10x growth during this period.
  • Its traction caught wind and Grain was recognized as one of Singapore’s top startups by LinkedIn.
  • As Grain works to feed its consumers with more delicious grub, the company is also improving its tech stack called Grain Atlas, which aims to become the “operating system” of F&B.
  • Check out Grain’s feature on Vulcan Post here.

Expanding to the Middle East

  • Singapore-headquartered and 500-backed MyCash Money has been selected to take part in the Qatar FinTech Hub (QFTH) accelerator program.
  • Supported by the Qatar Development Bank, the program received more than 750 applications from early-stage and mature fintech startups in Qatar and 72 countries including USA, UK, Australia, India, Germany, and Singapore.
  • Shortlisted startups were tasked to present their solutions via numerous digital pitching sessions. In the end, 11 early-stage and 13 mature fintech startups were chosen. The latter group includes MyCash Money.
Credit: ICE Business Times
  • Once the startups have gone through the programs, they will be granted support on licensing needs in Qatar, on top of a waiver on registration fees.
  • They will also be given the opportunity to collaborate with over 16 local financial institutions and regulators.
  • MyCash Money has been instrumental in providing unbanked migrants in Southeast Asia with access to remittance services.
  • To date, MyCash has facilitated remittance transactions amounting to more than S$1.5 million, for over 5,000 migrant workers in Singapore.
  • Congrats, team MyCash Money!

Actions speak louder than words

  • 500-backed Grab’s mantra for marketing is “it isn’t just an ad, it is also an act”. This guiding principle has been amplified by the current ongoings around Southeast Asia resulting from Covid-19.
  • Cheryl Goh, the company’s VP of marketing, said marketing efforts have been channelled to uplift communities, whether it may be through webinars or enhanced SOPs for ride-hailing and food deliveries.
  • For example, Grab introduced selfie verification to prove drivers are constantly wearing masks. Adhering to social distancing protocols, consumers can opt for contactless deliveries by which orders are dropped off at entrances for self-pick up.
Credit: Nation Thailand
  • “During this time, it’s important to build trust with consumers, drivers and merchants and we do that through public and private partnerships with lots of government agencies,” Cheryl said.
  • Besides, Grab marketers also responded to the calls to assist entrepreneurs by rolling out the ‘Small business booster’ campaign to stimulate demand on the platform for local businesses struggling amidst the pandemic.
  • To cope with the increase of food deliveries from staying-home consumers, Grab switched 150,000 drivers from ride-hailing to delivery, driving an uptick in sales across GrabFood, Cheryl added.
  • More on Grab’s marketing strategies in the face of an ever-changing landscape.

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500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. In Southeast Asia, 500 Startups invests through the pioneering 500 Southeast Asia family of funds. The 500 Southeast Asia funds have backed over 240 companies across multiple sectors from internet to consumer to deep technology. It continues to connect founders with capital, expertise and powerful regional and global networks to help them succeed.

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500 Durians

Born in Silicon Valley. Raised in Southeast Asia.


500 Southeast Asia Team