The Covid-19 virus outbreak has been merciless for many businesses, especially the hospitality sector.
Leo Tan was in the hotel tech industry, dealing with contactless guest experience for hotels to automate guest experiences. Today, the company is servicing hotels in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for domestic travel.
On the other hand, Benjamin Liu is in the fintech industry, dealing with automated currency exchange machines in over 100 hotels in Singapore.
Since their respective jobs were heavily involved with hotels, they were inadvertently affected by the pandemic.
The 34-year-old pair, who have been friends for 16 years, decided they should explore other opportunities and start up their own business called CocoBoss.
“Seeing the growing trend of coconut shakes, we decided to give it a go and recreate our own version of coconut shakes. After many rounds of taste test, we managed to craft our own coconut shake recipe,” said Leo, co-founder of CocoBoss.
They want to be the “Starbucks of Coconut Shakes”
Despite zero F&B experience, they took the leap of faith to open the first-ever CocoBoss store at Space @ Kovan.
It was a steep learning curve for the duo, and Leo admitted that their lack of experience posed many challenges for them.
When they were setting up their first outlet, there were faced with a lot of teething issues and operational challenges.
“Covid-19 has affected our normal operational procedures due to safety measures put in by the government which we must adhere to. As these safety measures are constantly changing, we have to adapt and train our crew accordingly,” said Leo.
He added that the global pandemic has caused shipping delays wells, which resulted in a “logistical nightmare”.
He also cited the idea of building a lifestyle brand around CocoBoss as one of the key business challenges. In particular, they want to position themselves as the “Starbucks of Coconut Shakes”.
CocoBoss was born from the love of coconut shakes by two people who want to share their twist of coconut shakes with others. What makes us different is that we pride ourselves on using the freshest of ingredients to create the ultimate coconut shake.
But a great shake is only complementary to the experience you will get at any CocoBoss outlet, as we aim to deliver the personalised experience as part of our lifestyle approach.– Leo Tan, co-founder of CocoBoss
Beyond offering ‘regular’ coconut shakes, CocoBoss wants to stand out from the rest with their specially crafted coconut blends.
According to Leo, their best-selling drinks are their Signature Roasted Coconut Shake and Salted Caramel Coconut Shake. Other interesting flavours that they offer include Matcha Coconut, Cookies & Cream Coconut, Avocado Coconut and Hazelnut Coconut.
The price of their coconut shakes range between S$5.80 and S$6.90. It’s not exactly one of the more affordable drinks in the market, which might be a deterrent, but their sales have proven otherwise.
In fact, Leo shared that they “sell hundreds of cups per day per outlet.”
Their marketing efforts via social media marketing and creating hype through word-of-mouth also helped to gradually build a strong and loyal following for the brand.
“Building loyalty among our customers and hearing their positive feedback gave us even more confidence in growing CocoBoss as a coconut shake lifestyle brand,” said Leo.
They took only four months to break even
The co-founders have invested “a portion of their savings” into starting CocoBoss, and it took them three to four months to break even.
Leo proudly shared that CocoBoss has recently launched its sixth store at Peninsula Shopping Centre in a short span of seven months.
“Our sixth store is the first-ever coconut shake concept store in Singapore. We wanted to execute a hole-in-the-wall concept, bringing both the old and new together.”
“We also made sure that our concept store is Instagram-worthy by featuring not one, but three ‘Instagram walls’ for customers to go crazy with their cameras and snap the best shots.”
At the back of this strong growth, the founding duo don’t intend to slow down and have plans to open more outlets across Singapore in the future.
It’s worth noting that the business capital required to open a single outlet is “in the range of six figures and up”, according to Leo.
Commenting on the local F&B landscape, Leo acknowledged that there is an existing coconut shake craze, which has helped to propel sales.
When asked if it will last as long as the bubble tea hype, Leo simply said that people are constantly looking for alternatives to bubble tea.
“(Like) with any trend, there will be ups and downs, but we are confident that the coconut shake trend will be here to stay.”
With an increasing number of coconut shake players in the scene, Leo admits that it is indeed getting saturated and competitive, but they remain unfazed by this.
Instead, they choose to focus on consistency and delivering the best-quality coconut shakes to their customers.
Featured Image Credit: CocoBoss