“Don’t waste your food!”
You definitely have heard this at least once before. Perhaps from your parents who may or may not be pursing their lips, while citing the plight of the less fortunate ones in society.
But food wastage is a big problem: Singapore created around 791,000 tonnes of food wastage in 2016 alone; that’s 31,000 double decker buses full of food.
The amount increased by nearly 50% over the past decade.
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Food wastage is a wide-ranging problem, covering the society, economics, and the environment. But there is a simple solution to help address food wastage in Singapore: treatsure.
treatsure is Singapore’s first reservation platform for surplus food, founded by CEO Preston Wong and CTO Kenneth Ham.
The app shares discounts on surplus foods by various F&B outlets, preventing the foods from getting thrown away.
Finding Treasure In What’s Usually Seen As ‘Trash’
The idea came to Preston when he saw some of his family throwing out expiring food from the fridge.
“So, I thought how about we build an app to put such items from the house onto a platform to sell,” Preston recalls.
Preston discussed with Kenneth the problem he saw.
Then, they noticed food wastage is even more widespread outside of the home.
After knocking on doors and speaking to various merchants, they realised that current methods of reducing food wastage are inefficient. There was a lack of an effective, innovative solution to reduce food wastage.
Both of them had the same vision, albeit from different perspectives. While Preston wanted to reduce wastage to create a better society and environment, Kenneth came in from a more technological perspective.
“I saw how we can use technology to really impact lives and I think that has been my motto. I want to use technology to either make it efficient, or help people use technology better,” Kenneth explains.
As Preston and Kenneth brainstormed and researched the idea of creating treatsure, they saw the rise of Carousell and other prominent startups.
The passion for enterprise surged within them — they even crashed an entrepreneurship class together.
They wanted to get things right before launching the app. treatsure was built following a process of getting feedback and inputs from many sources, as well as brainstorming and refining the idea.
It was a good combination of skills between Preston and Kenneth: Preston did business then law, while Kenneth is a Computer Science major. They both completed their studies at NUS.
A Year To Live The App
As with any new venture, it wasn’t all smooth-sailing.
Having enough resources was a problem, and both Preston and Kenneth had to juggle between different roles.
Kenneth had to juggle between handling different aspects of our technology and HR. Meanwhile, Preston took on various responsibilities between sales, marketing, design and legal functions.
Convincing merchants was also a challenge. Some merchants had reservations about their credibility and reputation since they’re a new startup, and cited the difficulty of changing parts of their daily operations.
It took around a year to get treatsure on Apple’s App Store.
Preston notes the incredible amount of support they received:
It was a divine provision of different people and resources.
treatsure got funding from angel investors, while their friends and family helped with other resources too.
“We’d also like to acknowledge NUS Enterprise and Vertex Ventures-Technopreneur Circle for their support as well.”
Even Microsoft lent a hand, and it was a trick up Kenneth’s sleeve – “Having worked in Microsoft previously, I helped treatsure to get access to three years worth of credit with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services through its BizSpark Program.”
Incorporating AI And Analytics
treatsure is on the App Store for only a month but Preston and Kenneth are already setting their sights on the future.
They want to tackle food wastage on different fronts as well. They plan to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics into treatsure.
In the next couple of years, treatsure will learn about the behaviours of both the consumer and the merchants, and the ecosystems will come full circle.
“We can complement that information to both parties,” Kenneth elaborates. The consumer can find the best deal for them, while the merchants can understand the market better.
Merchants can also use data analytics to predict how much they need to make in a day.
So, instead of trying to sell excess food at a discounted price at the last minute, merchants can start with managing the resources they need in their production line.
This effectively prevents food wastage from happening.
They now have 10 partner merchants, three more are joining soon, one of which is a global leading brand. There are even people writing into treatsure, and responses from their campus outreaches have been positive too: students actually hope to see other merchants get on the platform too.
Interested in the app? Check it out on the app store!