Chasing The Culinary PassionGiven the heavy focus on food in his blog, it comes as a no-brainer when Seth mentions that he’s always been interested in food and the F&B industry. His first foray into the culinary world took place during his university days in SMU, when the school held a competition for a space in the school. Students could form groups and pitch their idea of how they would use the space to a panel of judges. The winning group would win the space for their use. Seth won the space with his group of friends, and ran it for two years until they graduated. “That’s when I really started getting my hands-on experience,” Seth recalls. Unsurprisingly, the pop-up, which served not only students, but teachers and members of the public as well, was a hit. After this venture, it was as if there had been an awakening within Seth, as he decided to further his interest in food and began working in external companies to gain more experience. “I had a business degree, but I decided I need to start from nothing,” he says, describing his shift to bartending after his graduation. “If you want to do a business in F&B, you need real experience in F&B.” Whilst bartending full-time, an idea for a business stewed in Seth’s head before coming to fruition in the form of a milkshake shop, dubbed MakeShake, that sold customisable milkshakes. Business was fine for about a year, but it proved to be unsustainable and ultimately shut down. In MakeShake’s sinking moments, Seth decided to go into the business of F&B marketing consultancy, which saw the birth of SETHLUI.COM. “The blog was a medium to reach to more people, and food reviews was a way for me to get more experience via tasting and looking at what other restaurants were doing for service,” Seth reveals. “Putting my thoughts online serves to articulate my ideas better.” The blog initially got off to a shaky start, as Seth wrote about everything–from marketing advice to daily happenings. However, he realised that he wasn’t interested in these topics, and soon found his focus in food, nightlife, and travel. As he continued writing reviews and opinion pieces, one of the articles went viral, growing SETHLUI.COM to greater heights.
It’s Busier Than You ThinkWhile it’s commonly thought that bloggers have a very carefree lifestyle, Seth’s schedule is frequently quite packed. Given that SETHLUI.COM is the leading food blog in Singapore, the company requires a sizable number of deals to support its team and its output. Seth’s day typically starts with sifting through the overwhelming number of emails he receives, which can go up to the hundreds and therefore require a couple of hours to fully process the mass of emails. “There are just too many emails to reply to sometimes,” he laments. But these emails, which range from enquiries to meetings, inform his schedule for the week. Then, he has to plan and assign his team of writers to relevant tasks, as well as brainstorm ideas for campaigns and reviews. On top of that, his other work commitments include meeting clients and exploring collaborations, along with hiring of new staff. He also stays abreast of social media trends so that he is able to evolve his brand with the times and technology. While that may seem like a lot, Seth has grown savvy and recognised the need for balancing his workload. “One of the problems initially was that we tried to do everything, but it took a lot of time,” Seth explains. “Not everyone is worth it, so at some point you must say no to things in order to optimise your time.”
Daring To Be DifferentBranching out from the food, travel and nightlife brand of SETHLUI.COM, Seth has also founded Hype & Stuff, a sister site to SETHLUI.COM that affords him the opportunity to cover lifestyle events without diluting his brand. Hype & Stuff is “moving a bit slow,” but it recently crossed 18k followers on Facebook, and continues to grow. Moving forward, Seth is interested in finding a different approach in reporting stories, such as uncovering fringe topics and underground activities, citing the culture behind “thai discos” as just one example. “There are a lot of things that the mainstream public doesn’t talk about because they are taboo or sensitive,” he notes. “I want to ask Asians to be more open minded and be more aware.” SETHLUI.COM itself is transitioning to the next level as they continue to publish more in-depth coverage, talk to interesting chefs, and tell more stories about hawkers. Ultimately, Seth aims to do more “ballsy” articles of the F&B scene instead of just superficial writing. “We don’t wanna be known just as a blog, but about gourmet excellence, and professionals in F&B.” –
This article was contributed by Sapio. Sapio will be organising a talk by Seth under Sapio sessions, bite-sized talks that allow you to meet entrepreneurs, industry insiders, and thought leaders face-to-face. Called “How to Earn 40k a Month through Blogging”, it will be held in early 2018. Register your interest now!