It was sold to Singtel for $ 12 million in 2012.
Nine years later, this online review food guide – which once had over 16,000 entries on its website – is having its final meal next month.
What exactly was going in for this online business that was once valued at millions of dollars?
In 2018, the company's revenue reached $ 3.21 million. That is over 13 percent more than in the previous year, according to the startup and private company Tracxn Technologies.
In response to media inquiries, Singtel had stated that the shutdown of HungryGoWhere was due to the "severe challenges" in the industry.
The decision is in line with the group's attempt to realign its business and adds that it has reviewed HungryGoWhere in detail and explored various options for the business.
“It faced major challenges from the competitive pressure in the industry, which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Because of this, we decided to get out of the restaurant reservation market, ”said the telecommunications company.
It was once the "leading food portal in Singapore"
HungryGoWhere was founded in 2006 by three entrepreneurs – Dennis Goh, Tan Yung Yih and Wong Hoong An.
In 2012, the parent company of HungryGoWhere GTW Holdings was acquired by Singtel for S $ 12 million. The restaurant rating portal was then touted as the “leading food portal in Singapore”.
Image source: HungryGoWhere
Singtel then set itself the goal of "transforming" culinary experiences across Asia. The plan was to merge with lifestyle and local search site inSing.com to create the largest food and lifestyle website.
The group had stated in 2012 that eating out was one of the top activities for consumers in Singapore, with a large percentage of online searches being restaurant-related.
Six years later, in 2018, a Nielsen survey polling over 200 people showed that one in four eats out every day, up from one in five in 2015.
In the same year, HungryGoWhere had annual sales of around $ 3 million, according to Tracxn Technologies.
Then came 2020 Covid-19 which messed things up.
Nishant Kaushal, Head of Data, Strategy and Solutions at Creative Intelligence Agency ADNA, says that HungryGoWhere.com as a service couldn't adapt quickly enough to the changing food industry and the Covid-19 changes didn't make the situation any easier.
According to ADNA, the pandemic had resulted in more Singaporeans eating at home last year. As if that weren't enough, one in four found it difficult to eat out due to pandemic-related food restrictions.
33 percent of Singaporeans plan to stop eating in restaurants that often in the future.
How are other players dealing with the challenges of Covid-19?
A survey of 63 restaurants and food companies in Singapore this year found that grocery orders fell by as much as 85 percent year-on-year.
According to ADNA, the search volume for “Essen away from home” in May fell by 88 percent compared to the same period in 2006. The search results are just as bad when searching online for “restaurant reviews”.
Most of HungryGoWhere's competitors are aggressively adapting to change and finding ways to deal with the new realities of Covid-19 in order to hold the line.
Image source: Eatbook.sg
Even as these restaurant booking platforms adapt to food deliveries and takeaways to survive, they are still moving into an already overcrowded industry. Food delivery titans like GrabFood, Foodpanda, and Deliveroo take up most of the food delivery pie.
According to the analysis platform Statista, 77 percent of Singaporeans used GrabFood for food deliveries last year, followed by Foodpanda and Deliveroo.
So how can these “new players” build a competitive advantage over the big boys? These platforms need to develop strategies that are unique to them.
One way to compete would be to provide attractive booking prices for restaurants. Based on the existing relationship these platforms have with restaurants, they can arrange exclusive deals and great deals to attract customers.
These platforms can also consider restaurants with SG Clean certification. Maintaining high standards of cleaning will attract customers who want to eat out safely with no hygiene concerns.
The family-run Da Paolo Group, for example, has this certification in its restaurants. It carries out rigorous cleanliness checks, such as disinfecting tables after each use and maintaining safe distances. Employees are kept up to date with a security management system uploaded to the cloud.
In a post-pandemic era, the least food companies can do is reassure customers and give them peace of mind.
Highlighted Image Source: HungryGoWhere