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A Better Florist
LOG on to the website, pick out what you want, pay and place your order, and it'll be delivered within the next 90 minutes. No, not Pizza Hut. We're referring to is Steve Feiner's new instant flower delivery service - A Better Florist.
He launched this service at the end of September, and is the first online florist to import freshly-cut flowers straight from Cameron Highlands and have them delivered for free directly to your door.
"Our blooms are twice as fresh because we cut out four to six middlemen, pass the savings to our customers, and make ordering easy with our curated online selection of hand-crafted bouquets," says Mr Feiner, who used to work at Google doing global business strategy and analytics.
For now, he has four different selections available on the website - the Audrey, the Marilyn, the Sareena, and the Rosaline - and prices start from S$60 per bouquet.
He came up with the idea for A Better Florist when he wanted to send flowers to his girlfriend one day, and was disappointed not only by the overwhelming selection of expensive bouquets, but the fact that his flowers ended up arriving a day late and barely lasted the weekend. "Ordering is one thing, but I want to know that the flowers I give will make her smile as opposed to not showing up or dying or leaving a negative impression," says Mr Feiner.
He shares that one of the most surprising things research has shown is that "while most men buy flowers twice a year, the most enthusiastic bouquet buyers are women who gift it to their friends, family, and themselves." And that's the kind of customer he wants to cater to - people who want to make someone's day.
The next step down the road is to expand to other parts of South-east Asia, beginning with Kuala Lumpur.
Says Mr Feiner: "Delivering the best possible flower experience to our customers is our top priority as we expand regionally. It isn't just a better price. These aren't just fresher flowers. It's all about the experience. We want people to be wowed."
WE all know buying in bulk means cheaper prices. This applies to anything from grocery shopping to dining and even concert tickets. But it's not always easy to make up a bulk order on your own, or find someone who shares the same interest as you.
That's where entrepreneur Joel Leong comes in, with his new start-up site called GroupHunt. All users need to do is to suggest a product that they want by posting a "Hunt", and if the item gets enough votes from other users, the GroupHunt team will then step in to negotiate with vendors for a better price.
"The Internet is about collective action, so we built GroupHunt to tap into this. We started quite simply by organising 'Hunts' for stuff we ourselves wanted to buy. It snowballed from there," says Mr Leong, who also started a crowdfunding and marketplace platform called Haystakt.
"Haystakt gave us deep insights into pre-order mechanisms and customer psyche... At the same time, we saw a gap in the market - no one is helping an individual match their interests with others. The benefits are obvious: you get to save on shipping and a better purchase price."
He adds that the GroupHunt team has already saved their community over S$82,000 since they launched in March this year, and most of their users are people with specific hobbies or interests.
Some examples of popular products are Hobonichi planners and Iroshizuku inks suggested by fountain pen enthusiasts, and group-discounted tickets to Laneway Music Festival and the tech conference Echelon Asia.
"Unlike traditional group-buying websites, everything on GroupHunt is suggested, created and chosen by individual enthusiasts. They care deeply about their product or activity, and want quality and value for money. They hold key knowledge to unearthing the best, new products in their category," explains Mr Leong.
By next year, his aim is to allow individuals to organise their own group orders, and hopes to "become the place where enthusiasts converge to discover, discuss, and buy the latest products".
Discounts for shopaholics
IT'S no secret that Singaporeans love to shop. And more than that, they love sales, promotions, and discounts. So it's only natural that an online portal which caters to both these interests - called ALADY - exists.
This two-month-old website is a female-centric promotion and coupon marketplace which consolidates over 6,000 promotions from more than 2,000 different brands, ranging from clothing brands such as H&M to Watsons to airlines like AirAsia, and even doughnut shops like Krispy Kreme.
It's simple to use too - users just have to browse the site according to whichever category they like, and once they find a discount that appeals to them, they can click the "Get Sale" button to find out the details. ALADY was co-founded by Eason Chan, who says he was inspired by his girlfriend and co-founder Audrey Lai, because she personally loves to shop. "We've always seen promotions in shopping malls but we couldn't find any sites that consolidated them all in one place, so we decided we should start one together," he says. "Our vision is to help women save more money each time they go on a shopping trip," he adds.
At the moment, ALADY consists of a team of 23 people who scour the Internet for existing promotions - be it from credit cards or from the individual brands themselves, and post them up on the website complete with expiry dates. Users can search for what they want according to categories, shopping malls, and special offers like "1-for-1 offers", "SG50 promotions", and "Birthday promotions".
Down the road, Mr Chan says he intends to expand to overseas markets, and eventually hopes to build a few more online products that will also cater specifically to women, such as a website for organising things like charity events or social work.
Help from travellers
YOU know that candy bar you love to snack on when you visit the US? Or that hand cream you love from London which costs three times what it does here?
Now there's another way to get your hands on those items without having to pay exorbitant prices or for a plane ticket – all you have to do is Tompang.
The company Tompang Pte Ltd started in late 2013, as an e-commerce marketplace for people to buy and sell items as well as make and fulfil requests.
At the start of this month, however, its founders launched a new standalone app called TompangTheWorld (TPTW).
Basically, TPTW provides a platform for users to make requests for overseas products, and for travellers to fulfill these requests at a small profit.
Co-founder Jenn Ong says the idea came from his personal experience as a student who studied overseas, where he often received requests to "tompang" things in his luggage whenever he came back over the holidays. "As I grew older, the only things that changed were the reasons for travel and the products people wanted," he says.
TPTW allows for a user to receive multiple offers to fulfill their single request, which means they get to choose whichever option they believe can provide them the best value – whether in price, service, etc. Says Mr Ong: "Even though the Internet has made many products available, due to excessive shipping costs, regional restrictions and pricing disparity, people were still unable to obtain what they want, or had to pay exorbitant sums. I have no doubt that this informal system still exists, but what we wanted to do is formalise it."
So far, TPTW has accumulated over 100 users within the last two-and-a-half weeks since its launch, and the plan is to eventually expand overseas as well as organise better delivery and collection logistics. Who knows, maybe some day instead of travelling halfway around the world, all you have to do is take a walk to your neighbourhood pick-up locker and collect your item that someone else helped "Tompang" for you.
Wide range of services
YOU may have already heard of a few online services out in the market that can help you find a cleaner or electrician, but with the entry of four-month-old ServisHero into the Singapore market last month, all these service providers can now be consolidated onto one single app on your smartphone.
ServisHero started out in Malaysia, and its contractors cover a wide range of services from home maintenance like plumbers and cleaners, to fitness instructors for activities like yoga and pilates, and even tuition services for music, swimming, and language classes.
"We see our app as a marketplace that could disintermediate and enable people to work for themselves, employ digital resources to compete with their corporate counterparts, and find new customer leads," says Daniel Thong, the country manager for Singapore.
He explains that the app originated from its CEO Karl Loo, who was moving into his new apartment in Kuala Lumpur and found it "frustratingly difficult to find an air-con repairman he could trust, and one that could work around his schedule". Of course he ended up overpaying for the service, because there was no way he could compare or gauge how much he was being charged, and no way to vet their service standards and quality.
From there, he got together a group of friends from his days at Oxford University, including Mr Thong, and set up this business.
Of course, one of the most important things about a platform like theirs is the quality of services and customer satisfaction, especially when it comes to dealing with external vendors. To this, Mr Thong explains that they do background checks on all service providers who join their platform - including experience, qualifications, plus reviews and ratings from previous customers.
So far, they have had over 20,000 app downloads, and over 1,000 different service providers from across 50 categories. In the long run however, ServisHero intends to expand to other areas such as event planning - think hair and make-up, caterers, even face-painters - in order to become a "one-stop shop" for anyone who needs to get something done.
For your IT needs
DROPPED your phone and cracked the screen? Not a problem. You don't even have to leave your house to get it repaired - just call the guys at Fynd, and they will send a technician directly to your home to fix it for you.
Founded late last year by three individuals, Fynd is an on-demand service for various technology needs, such as phone and computer repair, data recovery, and even general IT support. One of its co-founders is software developer Albert Tirtohadi, who also owns a retail software company.
He explains that his initial idea for the company was to come up with a business model that not only makes money, but also helps empower the lower income group in some way. "I tried different ideas in the last couple of years without success. With Fynd, we have made great progress as there's a large demand for phone repair," says Mr Tirtohadi.
He adds: "Now, our top technicians who are in their early 30s are making S$5,000-S$6,000 per month even though they have no university degree. In essence, Fynd is a company that is trying to solve the income gap problem through phone repair."
Fynd works with a team of about eight independent freelance technicians who connect with customers via the Fynd platform. Each technician has gone through extensive training and had their skills tested to make sure they are able to do the job well, promises Mr Tirtohadi.
After all, their main target audience is busy professionals who "need to get important things done and can't afford a long downtime", so it's important that repairs are completed on the same day as much as possible, and some even within just a couple of hours.
Says Mr Tirtohadi: "We are now repairing more than 400 phones per month, and that number is still growing. We are looking to expand into South-east Asia's top cities and further expand our services."