What to Read Next

Let Us Crowdfund The Singapore Food Scene

Sheere Ng
28 July 2012

Text by Sheere Ng @ Makansutra

Let Us Crowdfund The Singapore Food Scene
Let Us Crowdfund The Singapore Food Scene

Are you selling food at adhoc markets and dream of having your own brick and mortar shoplot? Do you want to set up a food truck to peddle your creations to all corners of this country? How about creating a range of tea blends based on how you feel about certain music?

If you are based in Singapore, where the cost of setting up a business is one of the highest in the world, where you need proven track record before investors will look your way, where pragmatism, KPI and growth chart rules, then you know your chances are razor thin.

But this could change with the rise of crowd-sourced funding.

This is how it works: anyone with an idea that needs funding to materialise can submit a proposal to websites like Kickstarter or AngelList stating their desired funding goals. This gets posted online and users who like the idea can pledge their money in support. Currently, there are over 160 food-related projects on Kickstarter seeking funds, and some have already collected a few hundred thousand dollars.

While crowd-sourced funding is especially popular in the US now (it has successfully funded the above three ideas), it has yet to take off here. But if it does, it could make it easier for independent, aspiring entrepreneurs to break into the F&B (food and beverage) scene.

Not investors, but backers

People who make contributions in crowd-sourced funding are seeking a “warm glow feeling”, in the words of Kickstarter’s co-founder Perry Chen. “It is akin to buying a piece of cheese from the farmer rather than from the store, even if that means the cheese costs more,” he said.

Contributors to crowd-sourced funding do not expect much in return, and even though they are promised a token of appreciation, which range from a packet of cookies to having their names inscribed on the wall of a café they helped fund, what really drives them to contribute is the ability to be part of a movement they believe in, something bigger.

Several Singaporeans have been participating in crowd-sourced funding. Mr Justin Zhuang recently donated $100 to support the making of a documentary about Singapore music group The Observatory. “It costs a lot to produce a film. If we left it to the market, such a niche idea would never be produced,” he says.

When it comes to food, Singaporeans are known to have an insatiable appetite for something new — just look at the long queues whenever a new eatery opens (like the overwhelming response to a recent test-bed event by the US-born In and Out burger chain). This desire could be re-directed to helping more new, artisanal, made-in-Singapore food concepts materialise. After all, donations start from a minimum of US$10 — not a lot more than a foodcourt meal.

A test bed for ideas

We are deprived of many interesting concepts because the current business climate does not support them. Instead, it encourages mindless consumption and hamster-like pro-creation of the same old brands.

With crowd-sourced funding supporting interesting and meaningful culinary ideas, food establishments can go beyond the basic premise of feeding people. How about one with a social cause? Or does the idea of a modern Asian/Singapore food science laboratory excite you?

Diverse Food Options

Increasingly, just a few big players dominate Singapore’s food scene. Walk into any shopping mall today, and your dining options is likely to be limited to the same familiar names and same old players.

The high costs of setup make it easier for those with financial muscle to expand, but shutting out individuals armed with merely creative ideas.

Crowd-sourced funding can help back these individuals. While it may not always raise the full amount needed, it can sponsor a certain aspect like equipments or basic operation consultancy services to see it through the first few semesters of operation.

Mr Danny Pang, who set up the restaurant Spruce a few years ago, says the initial months are make or break. “You need to pay for the rent, equipments and the food supplies. If you don’t have a deep pocket to sustain the business, especially in the first few months, out you go,” he says.

Backers as Gatekeepers

At crowd-sourced funding sites, only when the total pledges meet the amount seeked, can the project materialise. This lets the prospective backers “pre-approve” what they like to see, preventing plain-vanilla and amateurish concepts from flooding the market.

Even if the fund seekers eventually botch it up, we can trust the market forces and response to eliminate them from this highly competitive industry. After all, only big companies will have the financial power to keep mediocre eatries afloat, not small start-ups.

Crowd-source funding, however, does come with its own set of challenges. Mr Joshua Khoo, co-founder of the six-month old Saveur, was concerned about putting ideas on the internet, citing that those with the money will steal their ideas even before enough funds can be raised. (We suggest raising the standard of the concept, such that he is the best man to do it.) Some may also use crowd-funding to carry out already existing concepts.

But these do not outweigh the potential jolt crowd-sourced funding could shock the Singapore food scene out of its complacency.

So what are we waiting for? Here’s a taste of some wacky and lofty ideas our F&B entrepreneurs wish they could realise but cannot as yet.

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

Gansu theatre apologises for "From Vegas to Macau III"

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Time is Running Out

Just 8 days remain to enter for a shot at $5,000 A Week “Forever.”

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Free Samples Sites- Why You Should Pay Attention

Sign up now for freebies so good you will feel guilty not paying for them! No credit card or purchase necessary.

Insane Navy Seal Flashlight, should it be banned?

The Military has recently released technology that is now available to the public. Get yours before they run out - Limited Supply!

What Are The Pros & Cons Of A Reverse Mortgage?

More Americans are accessing their home equity to support their retirement years. Speak with a professional and see what you may qualify for today.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

How To Make Sagging Skin Look Tight and Lifted

[Watch] The easy and effective way consumers across the country are improving the look of their wrinkled and sagging skin without cosmetic procedures.

Heartburn Symptoms

Common Symptoms of Heartburn Include Burping and Bloating. Learn More About the Common and Uncommon Heartburn Symptoms You Might Be Experiencing.

Your second chance to enroll in Medicare & Medigap

Never heard of the Medicre General Enrollment Period? Read this to find out how it could benefit you.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

"David Loman 2" donates to Tainan relief effort

Toddler tantrum email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track for advice on how to handle different situations that may arise with your little one.

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.