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We interview Pop Meals' co-founder to find out the reasons why dahmakan rebranded and pivoted away from the healthy food branding.

Faye Lee  |  MY
Published 2021-02-09 12:35:58
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After dahmakan first started out, they remained a healthy gourmet delivery F&B brand for 6 years up until their rebranding late last year to Pop Meals.

Across the years, the team’s business model has proven attractive to investors, sweeping in 7 to 8-figure funding in their pre-series A, series A, and series B funding rounds.

These rounds came from global investors like the billion-dollar Silicon Valley fund Partech Partners, China’s UpHonest Capital, Korean food delivery unicorn Woowa Brothers, and even the former CEO of Nestlé Germany.

They also expanded into Thailand in 2018 after acquiring Polpa, an end-to-end healthy food delivery startup.

All these events scaled up their capacity to lower their prices and add more locations. However, in efforts to capture a larger market, they decided to rebrand to Pop Meals.

“Rebranding has been on our mind since 2019 when we saw how excited our customer base was with the new direction of our menu,” Jessica, the co-founder of Pop Meals, shared with Vulcan Post.

“We felt that the previous dahmakan brand didn’t capture everything that the product now has to offer: more affordable, more exciting and popular foods at more locations than when we first started.”

Change Is Necessary

“Our internal operations are still the same, we create recipes, cook our own food, build our own tech and operate our own outlets and deliveries,” she said.

Jessica, Chris, and Jonathan, co-founders of the now rebranded Pop Meals / Image Credit: Pop Meals

Currently, they’re still focusing on the existing businesses they have locally and in Thailand because of the pandemic, but they won’t be ruling out any new opportunities internationally for later this year.

As for their menu, some of their popular dishes remain, whereas the less popular ones were replaced with new dishes. The price of their meals ranges from RM11.99 to RM18.88 as of now.

From what we can see, the price range of their meals hasn’t changed drastically, if we’re using dahmakan’s salted egg butter chicken dish (RM14.99) and Pop Meals’ Golden Salted Egg Butter Chicken (RM14.99 also) as reference.

What’s new is that on their site and the app, they also rank their meals like 95% would order this again on each food. Jessica thinks this is a big jump from traditional F&B concepts that are simply centred around a particular cuisine or chef.

Though they no longer include nutritional value details, they’d include nutritional notes to specify if the meal has allergens like nuts, crustaceans, dairy, etc. On top of that, they also added an ingredients list for each of these meals.

A screenshot of their ingredients list section for a meal / Image Credit: Pop Meals

Besides the price and menu change, the team has also moved into the offline space.

“One of the biggest changes to this existing business model that we saw was an opportunity to become even more accessible to a larger audience, so with the rebranding, we’ve launched our first offline store concept that includes dine-in and takeaway options,” Jessica said.

“We realised that a large percentage of the population was still looking for affordable dine-in and takeaway options. Hence, having an offline presence gives us an opportunity to become even more convenient and closer to our customers.”

A Welcomed Pivot

Now, pivoting from a healthy food brand to serving popular meals may not be the best news for fans who stayed with them all these years because of that branding.

However, it may be fair to say that healthy food in general still isn’t as appealing to the larger Malaysian population, so the pivot is aligned with the brand’s goal of servicing a larger market.

Their meals are served in a short cylindrical paper cup / Image Credit: Pop Meals

In fact, Jessica said that their existing customers have been very supportive of the rebranding and found the menu expansion and more convenient service refreshing.

“Especially if they were customers from early 2015 when they had to pre-order a week ahead and only had 2 menu choices,” she added.

Currently, their only Pop Meals concept store can be found in Cyberjaya, but the team’s plan for 2021 is to roll out more of them across Peninsular Malaysia.

  • You can learn more about Pop Meals here.
  • You can read about previous dahmakan articles we’ve written here.

Featured Image Credit: Jessica Li, co-founder of Pop Meals

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