Third time’s a charm, for 37-year old Tham Keng Yew, who’s had his fair share of failing startups at the beginning of his career.
However, he leads an ambitious life having after dropping out of his PhD program, where he worked for tech startup in Silicon Valley for five years.
“There was an opportunity to work for a startup called EXS Networks, it was in the exact area of my PhD thesis which was sensor networking.”
“My decision to quit my PhD and join a startup in Silicon Valley was because I wanted to create an impact.”
After settling back home in, Malaysia he started his first company in 2007 called ‘Social Walk’, which unfortunately tanked in seven months. This was followed by his second attempt at a startup which ran for only two years.
Today, he’s the CEO and co-founder of Supplybunny which offers an online marketplace that links restaurant owners with wholesale food and beverage suppliers in Malaysia.
“We operate very similarly to the Uber and Grab model. We don’t carry inventory and we don’t hold logistics. We are a pure market place.”
“So, if you’ve ever shopped on Lazada, it’s very similar but we target restaurants. We are a B2B platform. So, what we do is we have a system which involves quotation and invoicing, inventory, checking. That’s what we train our suppliers to do,” says Tham.
Supplybunny has been operating for two and a half years in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru with 6500 registered cafes, bakeries and restaurants
“The value we bring to restaurant owners is very simple. I think we’ve reached an age where technology allows you to focus on what you do best.”
“Restaurant owners focus on cooking the best food and providing the best service. They should not spend hours every day trying to find the right supplier, or figuring out whether they should buy this or buy that at the right price.”
“These are the problems technology should solve and that’s what Supplybunny is here to do.”
When it comes to the nitty-gritty part of setting up their online platform, Tham reveals that inventing the perfect online system was no walk in the park.
“The moment we first started this business, we had so many issues to do deal with in terms of the quality of the produce. Such as, the chicken smells funny, the fish doesn’t weigh enough.”
“That’s when we implemented star ratings, then suppliers got serious and restaurants got serious.”
“Now, if it’s not a legitimate complaint, don’t complain. Because if you drop below three stars, no supplier will serve you again.”
“So, we had an eighty percent drop (following the ratings introduction). In general, suppliers and buyers behave better. Those are the more unforeseen benefits of having a system,” Tham.