How food delivery startup Livingmenu defends users and hawkers

After completing his university studies in Canada, Raphael Kan co-founded an investment management company in San Francisco and joined a Shanghai-based startup as chief financial officer (CFO).

While in Shanghai, he encountered a problem in the food delivery industry and seized the opportunity to develop a solution.

Like most working adults, Raphael found it difficult to find affordable but authentic Shanghainese dishes on food delivery platforms. It was also a problem he couldn’t avoid in Singapore, where he was always presented with the same few options on delivery platforms.

That’s when the idea sprouted – “I thought it would be really helpful if we could find a sustainable way to work with the best street vendors and independent restaurants to create a food delivery service. food,” he shares.

That’s how he came up with the idea of ​​starting a Singapore-based food delivery service. Live menu in 2018.

Bringing app users closer to the local food scene

Keeping in mind the exasperation he and other delivery app users face, Raphael founded Livingmenu based on creating a world where people can eat well, affordably, practical and have a positive social impact all together.

As a big foodie, Raphaël finds it a shame the inaccessibility of the local food scene to customers via delivery apps. These local hawkers and independent restaurants embody Singapore’s local food culture, but they seem to be missing out on taking advantage of the rise of on-demand food deliveries unlike quick service restaurants.

Livingmenu offers top-rated, affordable meals from hawkers and independent restaurants / Image credit: Livingmenu

That’s why Raphael has gone to great lengths to ensure that Livingmenu offers them the necessary connections with Livingmenu runners to deliver meals to the customer’s doorstep – with no markup, no minimum order and no hidden charges.

For hawkers, signature dishes can be prepared in bulk via Livingmenu’s pre-order model, which maximizes their efficiency during underutilized hours before the lunch crowds arrive. In return, these peddlers can also receive feedback on the reception of their menu. that can help them improve.

Raphael pointed out that Livingmenu’s commission system is also “lower than the typical commission charged by on-demand platforms”.

To strengthen the connection between users and players in the local food scene, Raphael and his team recently published the Livingmenu Guide.

The guide features affordable dishes from street vendors and restaurants that are available on the app for less than S$10 per month so users can keep up to date with hidden food gems in Singapore.

Not your typical food delivery app

Apart from the effort to connect Singapore’s local food scene with its users, Raphael shares that there are other reasons why Livingmenu stands out from other food delivery platforms.

He notes that on-demand food delivery users tend to choose from the same few vendors time after time because they are the only ones available within the five-kilometre radius where delivery charges are considered reasonable, not to mention having to sometimes charge extra at peak times. .

Living menu mobile app
Livingmenu mobile app / Image credit: Livingmenu

On the other hand, Livingmenu offers affordable meals from the best suppliers in Singapore. Charging a flat rate of less than S$3.95 for a radius of up to 30 kilometers, Livingmenu offers affordable delivery without compromising delivery speed, as they deliver by car, with a few full-time drivers and nearly 50 drivers. independent.

Users can even refer to a daily rotating menu to mix and match orders from up to eight vendors in a single delivery.

While on-demand food delivery looks more like a logistics business, Livingmenu aims to focus on a different ballgame to solve inefficiencies in the current foodservice value chain. According to Raphaël, this involves optimizing the use of labor and kitchen space during off-peak hours.

difficult adversities

However, setting up Livingmenu has not always been a smooth journey. “[We] must constantly adapt to the latest market reactions,” explains Raphaël.

He remains firm with his mentality of constantly innovating, instead of giving in to accepting the status quo of how things are done in the industry, which in itself is a challenge.

Prior to the onset of Covid-19, Raphael pointed out that Livingmenu focused on business-to-business (B2B) as an initial go-to-market strategy and operated a cloud kitchen. However, their income fell to zero.

“[We] knew we had to adapt quickly to behavior change to survive. This eventually led to the development of the food delivery service. Looking back, it’s certainly more of an opportunity because we were able to innovate and seize new demands afterwards.

Slowly gaining the trust and support of their vendor partners, delivery partners and customers, incremental changes were made and Livingmenu continued to grow and improve from there.

“We knew very soon after our launch that it was going to be a hit due to the high number of repeat purchases from our users,” he adds.

Livingmenu Food Delivery Jumper
Livingmenu delivery runner / Image credit: Livingmenu

Now, having raised over S$3 million, Livingmenu has grown to deliver over 20,000 meals per month in Singapore on weekdays alone.

It has also seen annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth of 700% – and that figure is set to rise as more and more people start craving local food within hours of their homes.

Livingmenu is working to maintain a competitive edge and plans to launch a new service within the next two months to meet B2B and weekend demands.

“Our long-term mission is to help the best food hawkers, chefs and entrepreneurs succeed, and to create an ecosystem that helps support local food culture, not just in Singapore, but across Southeast Asia. and beyond.”