It’s amazing how Mondays have a way on people. I wondered why I picked Monday to try to get everything done when I could just as well pick Tuesday or Wednesday. No matter, it’s done, I’ve launched my second business idea and so far it’s very quiet. I like it =). The reason why I say this is because I’m testing the market. So what am I actually testing?
Is it actually worth creating this business. I’m currently using Sharetribe to do this test, with the payment option they have (PayPal), I have to say it looks quite bleak.
- Gap fulfillment
Is there an actual need to be filled? The idea came upon me one day long after participating in an event called Restaurant Day (Ravintola Päivää in Finnish), I had a successful one day restaurant held in Helsinki at a friend’s place with his help and one other. I did plan to participate again in the future but sadly, the timing was off. I was either working, or travelling, or busy trying to complete my assignments for University. I’ve gathered information from some participants of Restaurant Day as well as buyers to see the response and how it was received. I’ve gotten mixed messages to participating in the event. I want to highlight the issues faced in such event and then go to how this can be potentially solved. One person explained how weather affected the participation, when they created an event on Facebook, it received tremendous amount of participants but only half showed up. So that means they had 100’s of unsold portions left, which meant waste or eating the same meal for the next 30 days. Another person explained that they were in an area where everyone had an idea that they’ll make Thai food, specifically spring rolls, they had purchased ingredients to make Thai food so they could not change their plan competing with the same crowd in the same area. This led to thinking what if people could take orders in advance to minimize loss and also make food on different days than others instead of concentrating everything on one day. It wasn’t really possible because of the Finnish law. Until it was announced recently that everyday is Restaurant Day (article in Finnish).
This is probably not so important at the moment but bear with me why I wanted to test this out as well. There are other countries that already have such a system in place but probably don’t use electronic means to help track and manage their transactions. So could this also be a solution for them? Right now the platform is tested in the Finnish market but since Paypal is being used, there are no restrictions as to who can sign up (it’s just heck of a lot more expensive <– we’ll need to look into this in the future). For the seller, you just need to keep your promise to deliver and make sure that you provide the best quality products, buyers are expected to also show up when indicated to collect their meals or dine in. The best way to market yourself is through spreading the platform and your products to your closest friends and family. In Asia (thinking of Malaysia specifically), home cooks have been providing such services for as long as I can remember. My mother still orders cookies for Chinese New Year from a random people who bakes them at home, simply because she’s not interested in baking and saw an opportunity to enjoy her free time while utilizing services offered by others. So assuming that since Restaurant Day is a familiar concept, it could possibly catch on not only in Finland but also elsewhere.
- Understanding the market and perception
Since I come from so far away, it’s almost impossible to find meals that I get from Malaysia here in Finland. The demand is not big enough to sustain a restaurant, I’ve seen many come and go (in my..ahem *cough* years here). There are so many immigrants and expats in Finland, so much so that it’s starting to feel like a cultural melting pot as people move to work in various industries. From Nokia to Rovio to Supercell and so on. There should be enough of us to have a rotating kitchen eventhough NOT everyone wants to have strangers in their home eating with them or collecting meals. What’s a rotating kitchen? Is it something on a carousel? Well, think about it this way, you don’t always want to cook and some days you just crave certain foods and you’d rather buy but restaurants don’t offer or you’d just rather buy it than slave away in the kitchen all day, so you look for sellers that can provide these meals. Then when you get the urge to sell then you just set up what you’re planning to cook and others who feel like they don’t want to lift a finger can get their meals from you. However, this is from a cultural perspective. Will it work in Finland? I did get a comment from my daughter’s friend’s parent that if people were to offer family sized meals it would be cheaper for them and it would save them the trouble of having to cook every night. This is a great idea, someone’s gotta start it! Right? 😉
Let’s reverse the concept, a Finn travelling abroad will start scrounging around for Rye Bread after a few weeks, if another home cook were able to bake these goods from their kitchen it would make the Finns heart skip a beat (and so would the hideous salty licorice, also known as ‘salmiakki’). As much as we want to try something new, there are different comfort foods for different people. Mine is a nice spicy meal from Malaysia, one easily obtained at any hawker stall, then the question would be who makes the best way in close proximity. Knowing many Malaysians, the distance is usually not a problem when it comes to good food. My husband fails to understand this part of travelling long distance and waiting hours for food.
In my opinion (it may be wrong) there is a need for such services. At least I’m craving to see more sellers offering meals. And yes there is competition out there, all great ideas are duplicated, it’s just how well it’s received and what’s the uniqueness of the concept that sets them apart. One business could start off with a totally different business idea and then change their whole concept based on what the market needs (see Wolt vs Foodora).
Mini history of Wolt from what memory serves me. We laughed at how Finnish the concept is with my other expat friends, that Wolt started out as an app to help people purchase their food and beverages in advance and pick them up when they are ready with minimal contact and full efficiency. Now they serve as a food pick up (from your favourite restaurant) and delivery (to most locations, pfft, according to Wolt, I live in some jungle <_<). I may laugh at Wolt then but my concept of take away is also based on this (slightly), as in Finland people want to have minimal contact, sitting in a strangers home to enjoy a meal may not be every Finns cup of tea but many younger Finns (or those who travel more, NO NOT SPAIN FOR YOUR CERVEZA!) are more open to this concept. If you’re curious go check out our site at www.yummers.me, it’s still in market validation phase so not much advertising is done, however I’m planning to go around to meet some sellers on Sunday to promote the concept a little to get feedback as well. Wish me luck!
* Thank you Pixabay for the license free images. If this works out, I owe you that coffee ;).
** Stay tune as I tackle FAQ’s and other questions pertaining selling home made food in my next post. The most popular questions I get are taxes, hygiene issues, and pricing (namely, how to price the food so that it covers cost of using *ugh* Paypal and Yummers.me’s fee).
*** Oh and by the way, I sold my bike! Yippee! and also boohoo, now I need to find a new/used one that would fit my needs and budget. Well that’s for another day.