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It can be said that food always brings people together — laughing over takeout lunches with your colleagues, drinking with a few friends over the weekends, and going on dinner dates with your loved ones.

Now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed in Singapore, food establishments like hawker centres and food courts are getting more crowded with people returning to the office and schools.

With an aim to rejuvenate the concept of dining together with friends, two Singaporean foodies started up a pick-up only social commerce platform called Gobble, which offers features like group ordering and gifting of food.

Socialising the concept of food deliveries

Gobble team
The team behind Gobble / Image Credit: Gobble

Established in November last year, the platform was the brainchild and first business venture of Ashwin Purushottam and Domenico Tan.

The two met back in 2016 when they were working as part of the special projects team at Deliveroo. Bonding over a passion for the food and tech industry, Ashwin and Domenico birthed the idea of Gobble with different perspectives.

For Ashwin, he had met his other half on Tinder. Coupled with his love for food, it drove him to create an app that integrates food with the element of spending quality time together with friends and connections.

He acknowledges the “shared love for food” among Singaporeans, who often get together and discuss hotspots to check out.

Gobble
Image Credit: Gobble

Meanwhile, Domenico was inspired to create Gobble as he felt that there is a drastic difference between the online and offline ordering of food. Using multiple delivery platforms made him realise that there was a lack of interaction between people when ordering food online.

Most food ordering apps have an anti-social user experience, where one aimlessly scrolls from the isolation of one’s desk or couch.

– Domenico Tan, co-founder of Gobble

These two reasonings was what led to the launch of Gobble, which aims to socialise the process of ordering food.

Building on this, the co-founders felt that the aspect of incorporating discounts through bulk ordering will incentivise users to order and enjoy a meal together — this is a key differentiator of Gobble that helps it stand out amongst other food delivery players.

How exactly does Gobble work?

Gobble
An overview of the Gobble platform / Image Credit: Gobble

Gobble currently has three offerings, comprising self pick-up, self pick-up group buy, and a gifting option.

Gobble’s self pick-up option, Just Buy, works similarly to the pick-up options of mainstream delivery services. You simply need to pick a restaurant, add the items you’d like to your cart, make payment, and head down to the restaurant to collect your order once it’s ready.

For its self pick-up group buy option, the platform allows you to form a group buy party for your selected restaurant with your friends, and receive discounts depending on how large the group is. The bigger the “party”, the bigger the discounts.

To invite your friends to join the “party”, you can drop them an invite link through social or messaging platforms.

The group buy can also be joined by strangers, as the “party” will be made visible to anyone using the app for a limited period of time, which can be set by the host.

Each member of the “party” can then subsequently place their orders, fill up their payment methods and voucher codes, and pick up their orders from the restaurant once Gobble sends them a notification with the pick-up time of their order.

Gobble group buy
The Gobble app’s group buy offering and discounts / Image Credit: Gobble

On the other hand, Gobble’s gifting option allows you to gift your friends with food through their app.

When sending a gift, users have the option of picking an item either from their friend’s favourites or from nearby hot picks based on the user’s current location. A personalised note can also be added to every gift.

Gobble
Add your own personalised note to your gifts / Image Credit: Gobble

Recipients of the gifts can then redeem them at the platform’s loyalty page, and pick them up from the restaurant.

These gifts do not expire, and can be redeemed at any point in time. Gobble the holds payment as an escrow and the cost of the order will only be released to the restaurant when the gift recipient decides to redeem the gift.

Gobble
Redeeming a gift through Gobble’s loyalty page / Image Credit: Gobble

Through Gobble’s Just Buy and gifting offerings, users can collect stamps for every S$5 spent. These stamps can be shared with another friend to encourage the onboarding of more customers to its platform and to enhance the social aspect of ordering.

Empowering small businesses while saving the environment

gobble
Image Credit: Gobble

While Gobble provides utility to Singaporeans with discounted prices and automated payment splitting on group buys, the platform also seeks to benefit small businesses.

Most delivery platforms get pushed to subsidise low commission for large F&B chains at the expense of charging higher commissions to mom-and-pop restaurants.

For Gobble, it focuses on empowering smaller chains and individual restaurant owners to increase their sales by charging lower commissions.

The co-founders did not specifically disclose their delivery commission fee, but revealed that they charge less than one-fourth of the average rate of 35 per cent.

They added that Gobble is free from variable costs such as delivery rider incentives, unionised insurance coverage for gig workers, fluctuating petrol prices for scooters, accident coverage, and other costs incurred by delivery platforms.

Furthermore, through the large orders placed through Gobble’s platform, businesses get to leverage bulk buy efficiency.

These restaurants cut down their food wastage by clearing out items that may go bad soon and get to free up their dine-in real estate because of Gobble’s pick-up only group buy option, which enables them to offer the members of a “party” higher discounts.

– Ashwin Purushottam, co-founder of Gobble

Meanwhile, on the sustainability front, users of Gobble can help save the environment by lowering the carbon footprint with its pick up-only option. Ashwin cited that a scooter travels seven kilometres on average to deliver a meal, which emits around 700g of carbon dioxide.

Expanding its offerings beyond campuses

Gobble
Picking up an order placed through the Gobble app / Image Credit: Gobble

When Gobble was first launched, the app was only offered to Singapore Management University (SMU) students.

Within five months, Gobble has expanded its customer base to include the office crowd near Orchard Road and some parts of Singapore’s central business district (CBD).

We now target young office workers who are looking for value, but need to eat out daily at work. Young millennials and Gen Zs are cost conscious, love to hang out with colleagues and friends, and are already walking to get their food.

– Ashwin Purushottam, co-founder of Gobble

Apart from SMU and select parts of the CBD, Gobble is also available to customers at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, School of the Arts, Kaplan and LASALLE College of the Arts.

Besides expanding their offerings to these locations, Gobble has also seen its orders increase 53 per cent for five consecutive months and its latest group buy iteration supercharged that growth to 81 per cent in the last month.

Inflation is a blessing in disguise for Gobble

Gobble co-founders, Domenico Tan and Ashwin Purushottam
Gobble co-founders, Domenico Tan and Ashwin Purushottam / Image Credit: Gobble

As with any startup that was launched during the pandemic, Gobble faced its fair share of challenges dealing with a market downturn and inflation.

The founders remained optimistic about the situation and shared that the rising inflation has in some way presented an opportunity for Gobble.

Commenting on Singapore’s economic landscape, Domenico said that food deliveries are now becoming a luxury to Singaporeans.

Delivery menu prices are now being marked up by 25 per cent, delivery fees are exceeding S$5, and minimum order values per ordering reaching a high of S$20.

– Domenico Tan, co-founder of Gobble

Besides ordering food on delivery platforms, regularly dining out at a hawker’s centre or a restaurant can easily burn a hole in the pockets of an average young office worker.

Therefore, with more younger workers looking for alternatives to expensive food and food deliveries, Gobble presents a good alternative option for them.

At a time when everyone is feeling the inflationary pinch, we are happy to be able to bring greater value and savings to customers. We aim to own all their “dapaos” (takeaways)!

– Ashwin Purushottam, co-founder of Gobble
Gobble
Restaurants packing Gobble pick up orders / Image Credit: Gobble

On the other hand, for restaurants, inflation has driven up their food costs and as such, they are less willing to give up a hefty amount of their revenue to delivery commissions. Partnering with Gobble will enable these restaurants to receive more orders while enjoying lower commission fees.

An everyday, every meal solution for eating out

The Gobble party / Image Credit: Gobble

Earlier in February, Gobble managed to raise US$1.3 million funding in a seed round co-led by venture capital firms BEENEXT and Flash Ventures.

Some notable angel investors who participated in the round include Siddharth Shanker, the former general manager of Deliveroo Singapore, and Warren Tseng, the former regional general manager of Uber Asia Pacific.

Our investors saw great potential in Gobble as our business was designed to address a market gap and meet evolved consumer needs. The market has changed drastically two years into the pandemic, and we saw an opportunity to create and bring Gobble into the picture, allowing both customers and restaurants to benefit.

– Ashwin Purushottam, co-founder of Gobble

With the funds from the investment, Gobble aims to expand its platform across colleges, grow its tech and product teams, as well as improve the value proposition for restaurant partners.

“We’ll be islandwide soon, and our next goal is to focus on the 2.5 million workers coming into the CBD every week. We aim to become an everyday, every meal solution for eating out,” summed up Domenico.

Featured Image Credit: Gobble

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