As of 2016, there are 450 food caterers in Singapore.
And in the same year, those 450 caterers generated a very impressive S$915 million turnover.
Impressive, because coming after it was the turnover from fast food outlets – not as surprising due to how they’ve become a staple for poor students, overtiming employees, or those who just love budget-friendly burgers and fried chicken.
Of course, fast food typically costs less than catering, explaining the figures, but how often do you personally get to order catered food?
Personally, the only time I truly got to know the costs of catering was when I dabbled in HR and events in my first job.
For casual events where guests are assumed to not be too fussy, the cost per pax hovers between $10-$20; while grander events with ‘live stations’ (where food is cooked ‘live’ and to order) can cost $28 and up per pax.
While there’s always the issue of more popular caterers being fully booked, there’s a lesser known worry that’s even more pressing – whether or not the food is actually good.
Experience, in this case, is usually the best teacher, but recommendations are mostly done via word-of-mouth.
But what about those who don’t have the contacts, or time to ask around?
The founders of FoodLine, a catering review portal, faced the exact same problem almost 10 years ago, and started up so that others could also choose the best caterer for their occasion.
Started Up With Just $500
FoodLine was first founded in 2009, when 2 Singaporean friends, Joseph Chua (36) and Shawn Cheong (36), realised that it was difficult to find suitable caterers because of the lack of reviews online.
Not satisfied with just playing it safe and sticking to the bigger, more popular names, they also felt that it was “better to try a new caterer with new dishes”.
So to help others like them, they created an catering review portal in 2 weeks, with just $500 of their personal savings as a pet project – while still holding their full-time jobs.
They admit that while it was “quiet” at the start, more soon started to know about their portal, and by late 2013, FoodLine was revamped and visitors could both browse reviews and order from caterers without leaving the site.
Our inbox was filled, and we thought that we could focus on it full-time.
Currently, running FoodLine is a full-time job, but they consider themselves lucky “to have a strong team so they can work half days”.
263 Caterers On Board, Over 132K Households And Organisations Helped
Given that reviews on the portal are submitted by customers who have experienced a particular caterer’s service and food, one can rest assure that what’s written is more or less unbiased.
Smaller-scale caterers who have partnered with FoodLine to list their services have also benefitted from the exposure they get from the reviews.
Currently, there are 263 caterers on the portal, and the duo reveals that they have since helped over 132,600 households and organisations, and served over 5.6 million people so far!
But what’s their monetisation strategy?
“We charge transaction fee for every transaction, and subscription fees depending on the arrangement.”
But not to worry, we have a best price guarantee, and ensure that the caterers provide best prices to our customers!
As for future plans, they revealed the recent launch of a baby full month voucher, which customers can use to exchange for gifts like cupcakes and macarons from over 65 cake outlets islandwide.
Chinese New Year is right at our doorsteps, so why not check out FoodLine if you’re looking to cater for your friends and relatives this festive season?