Ideas make entrepreneurs. Starting a business is no feat. Starting a business that can sustain in the ultra-competitive market of today is a feat. And behind it goes many elements; the key among them is the idea. Have you heard of investors backing founders for their concept alone? Yes, that’s true. Great ideas – for example a website that could allow people to have their webpage with their pictures and thoughts, went behind making Facebook a force to reckon with in the tech space – are at the heart of the present startup scene anywhere in the world. Ahead of developing the search engine, Google, its founders conceptualized something- helping people find the most suitable webpage for the query they punch in- What an idea it was.
When one talks of Singapore and the city-state’s startup landscape, all appears superb on the face of it, however, the labors that have been put into by founders in making their startups a formidable force are rarely studied and admired by the critics of the startup industry. Why did any founder pick any particular field over another? For example, creating an Amazon-style e-commerce could have been the best idea, but what motivated entrepreneurs to go beyond the conventional beliefs and explore areas such as food delivery, online dating, and carpooling? These are nothing but ideas, rewarding ideas that have turned the fortune of many founders in Singapore. Here are five such startup ideas that have truly captured the imagination of founders, investors, and other stakeholders.
Online Grocery and Food Delivery
Ever since humans started trading, one concept has ruled the market. To be precise, the battle is half-won when your business idea hits the right spot- what people want. Indeed, grocery and food items are such a basic necessity for any household that trade in these commodities can never fade out. From retail shops to now the supermarkets, the grocery business has seen many shifts. But one change that disrupted the entire market and compelled buyers and sellers to rethink how grocery and food are bought and sold was the move of grocery shopping to the digital world of cellphones.
A mobile application, with a few clicks, can not only save the purchaser the time and labors of physically visiting the market to buy grocery items but also money, revolutionized the market. This idea went behind the making of Honestbee, Redmart, and Pushcart are some of the leading platforms that provide online grocery shopping facility to users. This 2015-founded startup has gone on to give even laundry collection services to its customers and parcel delivery to business clients. However, the grocery delivery service enabled the startup to scale up with backing from investors. Bigshots of the market, including Tesco and FairPrice, have partnered with the startup, and the unique concept of having amateur delivery agents, including homemakers and students who can work according to their schedules, has made the startup a success story.
RedMart by Lazada isn’t the sole player in food and grocery delivery services, and other players, including Amazon Prime, EAMart, and Cold Storage, are playing their unique roles in not allowing any monopoly to a single player in this space. Undoubtedly, the industry will see some consolidation in the not-so-near future with even some players backing out once the market matures, such as Honestbee, which currently in doldrums, is trying to revive the business through partnerships and joint ventures. In the current scenario, this space will see many new players with their unique customization to the idea.
Online Dating Apps
Singapore was the natural market for online dating services. An advanced country with a liberal mindset of most of the population, Singapore welcomed online dating apps with open arms. The concept is simple, according to users, create the profile, link to social media profiles to the app, match them with the opposite sex based on user’s preferences. For example, most of the apps in this space allow users to select the gender they want to be matched with and customize their preferences for age and location.
Singapore-founded app Paktor is finding patronage in the city-state owing to its localized approach and familiarity with the social setting of Singapore. Despite the entry of many players in the online dating services space, the market still has too much to offer to new entrants. Tinder, a global player in the online dating space and the leading player, and other apps, including Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel, found Singapore as a lucrative market and set up shop in the city-state.
Although the basic idea may be the same – allowing two people to get in touch – innovative customizations to this idea can inevitably spring up new platforms. Hence, the space remains attractive to many young entrants of the startup scene, and the way these newcomers will tweak the services to suit the taste of users further will bring new shifts in the idea of online matchmaking.
Connecting Users to Professional Service Providers
Again, this was a much-needed service, but tech entrepreneurs picked the idea late. Is your air conditioner posing issues, do you need salon services at the comfort of your home, or are you looking for a tutor for your child? No, the traditional way of asking for references from your friends and colleagues is no longer the most preferred one, and online services that connect users with professionals they are seeking are fast becoming popular. This idea of having a database of professionals which can easily be accessed by any user has been a severe disruptor of Singapore’s startup scene. And the best part here is it is cutting the time and labors of both the service providers and service seekers and helping both parties to save on costs involved.
ServisHero is one player that has deployed this idea and is finding it rewarding. The field has attracted other players, including Helpling, TaskRabbit, and Fiverr. Service providers can build their profile on the platform and showcase their skills by way of pictures and videos. Most of the platforms allow users to review the services they received from any of the service providers listed on the platform to assist others in finding the right contender. A fee is typically charged for listings done by service providers, and more often than not, the platform charges nothing from service seekers; however, in some cases, a minimal fee may exist. This idea of bridging the gap between two parties is not to lose sheen in coming times, and new entrants have all the prospects to come up with fresh additions to disrupt the market.
Online Restaurant Table Reservation
The always-in-a-hurry populace of Singapore cannot expect to wait for having a table ready in the restaurant. Tech is fast disrupting every nook and corner of the daily lives of the people of this city-state, and the idea of assisting people in having a quick reservation for dinner has enthralled many entrepreneurs. The concept is simple. Partner with restaurants and have their menu and other details listed on the platform, and with this, allow users to select any of the partner restaurants for lunch or dinner and book an instant table without having to visit or make phone calls. This idea stretches to the point of allowing users to rate the services of any partner restaurant to help other users make informed decisions.
Chope is one such startup that enables instant online reservations in a restaurant of one’s preference. HungryGoWhere, Burpple, Qraved, SBestFood and TableDB are other names with the same idea of online table reservation at their core. Users are finding this idea increasingly interesting and helpful given that it saves their precious time besides giving them attractive deals on food. What makes it even more attention-grabbing is the way users rate the services of various listed restaurants that enables competition to thrive among service providers, thereby enhancing the customer’s experience.
Indeed, the idea still has much to offer to new entrants. This space hasn’t matured yet and entrepreneurs can add more value to find patronage in the market. Online table reservation is to stay for long, and any player with unique and customer-friendly offerings has all the opportunities to become the next market leader.
Not just are the costs of owning a car in Singapore on the rise, the adverse impact of them on the environment of the city-state of Singapore has become a topic of debate among the people. All this culminated in the idea of letting people pool cars, and what can be a better way to find like-minded people than through online services? You need carpooling? Fine. Grab your cellphone and log in to a platform that lists all the requirements and helps you connect with those who are seeking carpooling on similar routes and during the same timings. Interesting, isn’t it? The idea has become a gamechanger in the market, and new users are registering for the services.
Ryde, which claims to be the world’s first carpooling application, is one of the popular platforms in the field. GrabHitch is another player with a similar idea at its core. The area is still open for new entrants, and Singapore-founded startups have much to explore, given that their variations to this idea are novel and add to the experience of users. Carpooling has a social aspect attached to it, and the way this idea can help reduce carbon footprint and road congestion is what goes behind its acceptability among users. From creating a verified database of all users to enhancing customer safety to letting users pay monthly or quarterly for the services used rather than having to pay at every single instance, there’s a lot that can get done.
The ideas, as mentioned above, are unique in their ways. Although the tech entrepreneurs have studied and experimented a good deal with these ideas, no analyst can say that there is nil scope of having a new startup succeeding in these fields. Startups of Singapore need to add their creativity to these ideas to differentiate their offerings from existing players. Facebook wasn’t the world’s first social networking website and nor was Google the world’s first search engine. But the two so-called ‘tech giants’ of today added value to the idea they picked and executed it in a way that users got completely addicted. It calls for Singaporean startups to think beyond the conventions, add their distinctive twist to any of the above ideas and come up with a truly disruptive product.