Savour! is a tech social enterprise and e-procurement platform originally aimed at reducing food wastage by selling expiring, blemished, and surplus food to the public. It has since expanded its scope to focus on connecting companies with suitable business-to-business (B2B) interests, therefore including various products and services such as regular food, corporate gifts, office supplies and event rental services that suit each client’s needs.
“Blemished and surplus food are still part of our operations, but we’ve become so much more,” says Katrina Lee, CEO and co-founder of Savour!. “Now for a small platform fee, we help many companies, charities, and school clubs secure sponsorships and corporate orders for their operations, programmes, and events.”
According to Katrina, merchants often incur losses when they are forced to outrightly discard outdated or expiring inventory, wasting their initial investments on those items. Through the Savour! website and app, these companies can find the ideal clients for the situation: other companies whose goal is to secure suitable products or resources under tight budgets and/or deadlines.
As a result, the merchants can recoup part of their investments when they otherwise would not have, and their customers can find the products they need at lower prices. Both sides also benefit from exposure at lower costs.
How does it work? Well, the ‘shopping’ is done on Savour!’s website, while redemptions are done through the app. And the best part: neither side of the transaction even needs to contact Savour!. The platform is fully functional, making it a truly hassle-free experience for merchants and clients.
“Companies can see the products that merchants list on our platform instead of going through the trouble of sending out emails and asking for quotations,” Katrina says. “It’s a lot more efficient for everyone.”
But to be clear, Savour! does not deal with food or products that expire in a few days – they hold items that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Challenges Before Efficiency
“I think we encountered the most trouble trying to acquire customers and merchants at the very start, when we didn’t have the platform developed and everyone simply saw us as students. People didn’t really want to be the first to jump on something so new, but in the end, we managed to sell the vision of what we could be to some customers and merchants.”
Regarding said vision, Katrina says that both their sustainability ideals and practical cost-savings benefits have attracted companies in equal measure.
The Next Savour!y Steps
Katrina says that Savour! is currently still expanding their customer and merchant base. “Right now, we have over 80 merchants and 250 customers but we’re actively trying to grow and onboard more MNCs and large brands to make the platform more attractive.” Some notable brands working with Savour! include Western Union, Brighton Connection, , Amoy Canning and Grain.
Savour! intends to eventually acquire majority of the B2B market share in Singapore and be the go-to platform for companies seeking procurement and sponsorships. They are also looking at expanding outside Singapore and into the rest of Southeast Asia.
“At the end of the day, we want to be the one-stop destination for B2B e-procurement and sponsorships.”
Katrina is a Year 3 Marketing student in a local university. She was always interested in the F&B industry and the non-profit sector, and found it a pity whenever she saw food being thrown away in her stints in F&B. “I thought that the perfectly good ingredients and cooked food could go to someone in need,” she says. After looking at the non-profit sector, however, she realised that many donated items like instant noodles and soy sauce were not what the beneficiaries really wanted. That was how she came up with the idea of Savour! – a platform where supply and demand in these fields could be matched.
Even before Savour!, Katrina had been running her own blogshop for two years. She says the experience helped in the running of the startup – “it’s just doing (the same things) for B2B instead of B2C (business-to-consumer).”
She stopped working on her blogshop in Year 1 to find something more fulfilling, which she did while interning at a social enterprise in Myanmar: after working with companies and educational institutions there, she was inspired to solve one of Singapore’s pressing problems: food waste, shortage, and insecurity. She put the plan in action in August 2019 after joining hackathons, and finally registered the company in July the following year.
“It’s a lot of time and effort I’ve put into the startup. There’s an opportunity cost involved, for sure, and there’s a need to juggle studies and social life on top of all that. I don’t count the number of hours I put into Savour! because it doesn’t really feel like work to me; it brings me joy,” she laughs.
Her proudest moment so far, she says, would be when she launched the platform to their supporters in August 2020.
“It’s really nice to see something you’ve put a lot of hard work in for a year get released to the world. Everyone had positive things to say about it.”
The Savour! team took part in NTUitive’s ideasinc 2020 – a nationwide startup challenge to groom promising ideas into viable businesses – and made it into the Top 10. While they did not make it into the Top 3, Savour! was awarded $10,000 in 2021 by NTUitive as they met the eligibility criteria of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) fund. The additional funding has helped them acquire some rapid software prototyping programmes, as well as pay the salaries of the two interns that also joined through NTUitive – collectively making it possible for the team to enhance their platform development and maintenance.
“They’ve also offered us hotdesking space on NTU campus for a year, which is really nice. And we have a list of mentors we can link up with if we need anything. NTUitive has been a great help, and I’ve found them to be pretty responsive and supportive of startups even if the startup isn’t based in NTU.”
Particularly, she adds that the mentors NTUitive has provided for them – especially Suresh Shankar, founder and CEO of Crayon Data – have helped Savour! refine their pitch and make their idea much more appealing to their intended audiences, adding to their confidence in presenting their idea to stakeholders.
To Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“Just do it! You’ll get it along the way. What matters is the mindset of being adaptable and open to change. All I had was an idea at the start, and it’s only after a lot of mentorship and revisions that my idea became workable. Put your heart into it, and you’ll slowly get there.”
Visit their website for more information: https://www.savourapp.co/