Bangkok’s internationally recognized ‘foodie culture’ has given rise to a steady rotation of up and coming international eateries, attracting lines of customers and naturally, the birth of food ecommerce startups vying for their attention.

Hungry Hub is one of them.

The company started as a restaurant reservation app in 2014 after anticipating a boom in restaurant bookings in Bangkok as the city was experiencing a surge in demand for eateries and dine out venues. Founder Surasit Sachdev wanted the app to be the “OpenTable” of Bangkok.

Fast forward two years later, traction for the app never picked up because customers weren’t incentivized to book through the app and the restaurants were never fully booked to need a reservation. The result left Surasit with two choices: pivot or shut down completely.

Hungry Hub lived on, but first needed to become lean. 15 employees were cut down to a team of five and the company decided there was a future in bookings for larger parties like corporate dinners, anniversary celebrations or other social functions.

The realization came to Surasit when he took his team out for meals and there was no way to balance price point and allowing his employees to order freely. How could he come up with a way for price sensitive companies like startups to enjoy corporate meals without breaking the bank?

The “all you can eat” package

Many mid-tier restaurants in Bangkok require a customer to spend an average of 300-500 THB per meal, usually comprising of an appetizer and a main dish; this excludes drinks and a service charge.

With Hungry Hub’s ‘all you can eat’ package, each customer would be charged a fixed fee of 599 THB to eat a variety of mains, appetizers, drinks and desserts from the menu depending on sets curated by the restaurant.

Hungry Hub focuses on mid-tier restaurants like Audrey Café and popular Japanese ramen chain Ippudo who have already partnered with Hungry Hub to offer the ‘all you can eat’ package. There are currently 33 restaurants signed onto the platform.

To get these offers, reservations need to be made at least 30 minutes in advance, and about a week for corporate gatherings.

Since the shift to B2B, Hungry Hub has seen 30-40% growth in revenue.

“Several large corporates have recently approached us and asked if we could find them a restaurant that could fit 300+ people,” says Surasit. “That’s when we realized there’s a demand.”

Unlike other businesses, the company is growing its business based on profits, rather than spending upfront to achieve sustainable growth. Currently, Hungry Hub has not raised funding for its business till date, but plan to do so in the near future for expansion.

The demand for more B2B services

Although Bangkok’s restaurant booking landscape is filled with active, high profile ‘food’ players such as restaurant reservation platform Eatigo and Thai restaurant directory and delivery platform Wongnai, Hungry Hub is developing a niche of its own by establishing the company as the go-to platform for B2B dining and catering to large groups of friends and families.

“The good thing about the food industry is that it’s an everyday thing. Users do not have to exclusively stick to using Hungry Hub or Eatigo,” says Surasit. ‘Their dine-out needs are always changing.”

“We want to become the name companies think of when they need to find a restaurant for a company party or dinner for 10-100 people,” continues Surasit. “We’ve built a large restaurant database that can accommodate these needs that no one else is doing.”

Hungry Hub is focusing on the development of its website over its mobile app because the company finds conversions are better on desktop. Companies browsing for suitable bookings are most likely doing so on computers than on a mobile phone.

What’s in the future for Hungry Hub?

Hungry Hub will spend the next six months solidifying its B2B play by adding more user benefits on top of the current 20 THB credit back with every booking – cashback can be requested after a minimum of five reservations.

Future benefits to look forward to include two for one booking and loyalty rewards.

When asked about the future of Bangkok’s restaurant landscape, Surasit expresses his concern for the oversupply of restaurants.

“There seems to be a new restaurant opening every week, and people try it once or twice then never return. The lack of loyalty has caused many places in the city to go out of business.”

So how is Hungry Hub trying to help these restaurants?

By cutting out discounts and providing restaurants a more reliable solution through group bookings.

“We want to bring sustainable offers to independent restaurants rather than cutting their heads off with half-price deals,” says Surasit. “The future of food ecommerce is not in massive discounts.”



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3. Thailand’s Wongnai teams up with Alipay

Wongnai, Thailand’s leading restaurant review and search platform has recently partnered with Alibaba’s Alipay, as part of the platform’s quest in becoming an all-inclusive lifestyle platform.

To date, Wongnai has 2,500,000 registered members and 200,000 restaurants on its database

In Q2 2017, Wongnai has announced 3 key partnerships and have expressed its determination in offering more e-payment options, in order to attract more international users of the platform.

LINE Thailand counts itself as Wongnai’s partners, and the partnership gives consumers the option of using Wongnai LINEMAN Delivery which allows users to order food from Wongnai’s platform to be delivered by LINEMAN.

The second and third partnerships are with Alipay and TrueMoney. The enabling of e-payment is aimed at attract more Chinese tourists who will be able to pay for food via Alipay Wallet. Currently, about 10 million Chinese tourists enter the country each year.

Wongnai has also launched a new vertical, Wongnai Beauty, which sees the platform consolidate various salons and spas onto the platform. This will also be used to attract an influx of Chinese tourists via Alipay.

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