We have previously spoken about Sugar, the discovery app that encourages you to reimagine Singapore in a new light. After its official launch in Singapore last July, the startup has shared that it is now launching in Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world. In addition to that, people spend a lot of time outside their homes. Shops open late, and people are always out and about,” shared Benjamin Lee, Sugar’s founder and CEO. “There are plenty of hidden gems around the city, some of them are tucked away in walk-up buildings. We want to help people discover the city’s colourful social fabric in all its entirety.”
Sugar App is different from other apps that simply recommend new places around you: With Sugar App, you can choose to bring down the price of the items listed, via a process called skimming. The more people skim the products, the cheaper they become. Every time you skim a product, the price is reduced by S$0.50. When you are happy with the final price, you can then purchase the item and redeem it at the outlet — in other words, it works just like a coupon.
According to their press release, Sugar has built up an inventory of 500 listings spread across F&B, entertainment and lifestyle services in Singapore. They currently have 50 listings in Hong Kong. The company has also just raised over S$1 million in funding to date, from investors which include Singapore Post’s chairman Lim Ho Kee, and Koh Boon Hwee, who is known for backing companies such as Razer, DocDoc and HotelQuickly.
Sugar will not only help people who are looking for new and exciting things to do here, but may also prove to be a blessing to budding merchants looking to set up independent F&B outlets. With a growing F&B scene, many restaurants in Singapore are struggling amidst local rent spikes.
Figures published in The Straits Times in December 2013 showed that while 575 restaurants were set up in the period between January and November that year, 435 restaurants also folded in that same period. With a 75% failing rate, the future of independent F&B outlets looks grim.
“The industry works in a basic framework – the more money you have, the more advertising you can afford,” says Stephen. “We at Sugar believe in democratizing advertising. You can’t pay more money to get more publicity on Sugar. We want to help everyone in Singapore equally, and that includes supporting small businesses.”