Have you ever had a craving for Wagyu beef or shabu shabu in the wee hours of the night?
Singaporeans Mervin Tham, Johnson Ng and Sean Goh once craved for the decadent meat in the middle of the night, but realised that there was no way they could purchase it.
No restaurants were open at that time, and any deliveries would take at least a day to arrive.
The trio of Wagyu-lovers were sure that they were not the only Singaporeans facing this problem.
They then got to thinking about how they could provide good quality cuts of beef at all times for Singaporeans who crave for a quick beef fix.
This led to the birth of EasyMeat SG — a local startup which operates vending machines that dispense Australian Wagyu beef.
Singapore’s First Wagyu Vending Machine
There are already a variety of vending machines in Singapore dispensing products from free samples to face masks.
However, Johnson told Vulcan Post that EasyMeat’s vending machines are the first in Singapore that dispense fresh meat.
A 200g steak goes for S$25, while 250g of sliced meat for shabu shabu will set you back by S$19.
The co-founder shared that the meat is frozen once sliced to ensure that it is well-preserved. All the meat is also individually vacuum-packed to minimise exposure to the elements.
Temperatures inside the machine is very important as well, and the team ensures that the cold chain is maintained at all times such that the frozen meat reaches dining tables safely.
Despite their commitment to ensuring the freshness of the meat, Johnson said that the team has seen many skeptics who tend to believe that frozen meat is not fresh.
The biggest fear for us at the start was whether people would buy premium meat from a vending machine.Johnson Ng, Co-founder of EasyMeat SG
“The biggest fear for us at the start was whether people would buy premium meat from a vending machine,” said Johnson.
When conducting market research via interviews, the team received mixed responses from interviewees.
They decided to take a leap of faith anyway as they realised that there was a market for their products when they noticed customers purchasing at 3am, which validated the problem they set out to solve at the start.
That being said, educating customers and correcting myths and misconceptions remain an important and uphill task for the three co-founders.
Up And Running In Just Two Months
Starting a business is never easy, and even more so for the EasyMeat co-founders, who are running the startup on top of their full-time jobs.
“We do everything,” shared the co-founders candidly when asked what each of their individual roles in the startup were.
They believe that the speedy launch of their first machine is a testament to their teamwork. The first vending machine was deployed in November 2020, less than two months after the idea was initially conceived.
It was like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle in a short time. We faced barriers big and small, and it takes a lot of trust, collaboration and teamwork.Johnson Ng, Co-founder of EasyMeat SG
By mid-December last year, EasyMeat had launched another two machines, and is on track to launching another five before the upcoming Chinese New Year.
By the end of 2021, the team hopes to expand to at least 10 to 15 machines.
Their machines can currently be found at Sembawang Shopping Centre, Simon Plaza and Thomson Plaza.
This month, it will also be unveiling a new online store, which is said to integrate EasyMeat’s offline and online experience.
According to Mervin, the online store will serve as a complement to the vending machines, providing the team with data on what products customers prefer.
In the long run, the co-founders’ goal is to make Wagyu beef and other kinds of premium meats accessible to everyone, as and when they need it.
Ideally, we would like our vending machines to blanket the island, just like how supermarkets have, making it very easy for everybody to have access to premium meats.Sean Goh, Co-founder of EasyMeat SG
Featured Image Credit: EasyMeat SG