How Shellfish Business Kin Hoi Hit Over S$230K Sales In Just 70 Days

Tucked away in the famous Holland Block 6 Hawker Center is Kin Hoi, a shellfish store that calls itself “possibly Singapore’s best shellfish brand”.

It was founded by Daniel Teo and Atchara Nimnuan, both from the corporate world.

Despite their poor experience in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, the duo saw the potential of their seafood business idea and decided to take the leap.

After some conceptualization and research, the founders managed to identify a market niche and started selling shellfish that were individually cleaned to meet the needs of Singaporeans.

Kin Hoi’s physical store launched in November 2020 and has consistently seen winding lines and a warm response from customers over the past few months.

From the large corporate flyer to the owner of a Hawker stand

Kin Hoi Crustaceans
Atchara (center) and Daniel (far right) / Image credit: Kin Hoi

Daniel told Vulcan Post he worked as a former Air Force pilot.

He then moved on to the private sector, where he spent some time in the infrastructure industry, traveling the world and working on construction projects in developing countries.

He then seized the opportunity to enter the media industry, where he was Director and Head of International Trade for digital entertainment company Yeah1.

After more than 10 years in the corporate world, Daniel felt he had reached a “saturation point” and began to seek greater opportunities for growth.

On the other hand, Atchara was the main seller in the Thai market in a renowned social media company.

Her passion for food and cooking prompted her to quit her job and open a stall at the popular Chatuchak Market in Bangkok with recipes passed down from her grandmother.

Spurred on by the boom in her business, she realized that the F&B industry could be “it” for her.

Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and the market was forced to shut down for months leading to the downfall of its first F&B business.

Later, she opened another small store, where Daniel ran into her. After tasting her food and chili sauce, he had the “crazy idea” of starting a food business with her, even though he had no F&B experience.

Our pivot to a “peddler life” was unexpected, but we wanted to put our social media skills to good use from our previous jobs, while also selling something simple and cheerful like crustacean, in a user-friendly manner.

Daniel Teo, co-founder of Kin Hoi

Create a brand from crustaceans

Kin Hoi Crustaceans
Image Credit: Kin Hoi

Based on their customer research, they found that Singaporeans don’t have a lot of good shellfish options.

Research also found that the main concern people have when it comes to shellfish is cleanliness.

Armed with this information, they identified a market niche and began selling individually cleaned and carefully prepared shellfish using Atchara’s Thai chilli recipe.

“I wanted to challenge myself to sell a product that people wanted but couldn’t find easily,” Daniel explained.

Kin Hoi started as an online store in October 2020, with just cockles, sea conch, and Thai chili sauce on the menu.

The duo would clean each shell individually in Daniel’s kitchen, starting their day at 6 a.m. to do so.

In the beginning, they only received five to ten orders per day. However, as the news of their clean, fresh shellfish spread, the numbers started to increase exponentially.

Sale of 100 kg of cockles every day

Kin Hoi Crustaceans
Image Credit: Kin Hoi

The number of orders increased to the point that the pair could no longer source their shells from the regular market, which imposed an order limit of 30 kg.

In addition, his home kitchen was not equipped to handle the large volume of orders. Therefore, Daniel had to scramble to find a new supplier and source for a central kitchen space.

The pair also felt that having a peddler stand would be a good way to capture the offline market.

I walked past our [current] store in Holland Close which was then vacant, and asked to speak to the owner. They said the unit had already been taken, but I wanted to talk to them and convince them that Kin Hoi would bring money and clients.

I convinced him to taste our food. We brought him everything we could sell him. He was impressed and gave us the store at the end.

Daniel Teo, co-founder of Kin Hoi

kin hoi singapore
Kin Hoi hawkers stall / Image credit: Dawn Chan

Kin Hoi officially started operations at the hawker stand in November 2020.

Meanwhile, their e-commerce store took a short hiatus, with the two founders unable to keep up with the big demands.

It was only after successfully gaining capital to employ staff that they relaunched their online store earlier this month.

To maximize their return, the duo invested in streamlining order taking and delivery operations during afternoon catering downtime.

Although they have more manpower, their days are still long.

A typical workday begins with waking up at 5 a.m. to collect their shellfish supplies before cleaning and preparing items for delivery. They would then go to the booth to start business from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

In their first 70 days of operation, the team managed to generate over $ 230,000 in revenue.

In addition, they now sell an average of 100 kg of cockles per day.

The menu has also expanded to nine courses, including an innovative Tom Yum collagen soup – all created by Atchara with help from her family in Thailand.

Think seafood, think Kin Hoi

Kin Hoi Crustaceans
Image Credit: Kin Hoi

According to Daniel, Kin Hoi is not here to disrupt the seafood or Thai cuisine market, but to carve out a new niche in shellfish.

When you think of fast food you think of McDonald’s and when you think of seafood you think of Jumbo or Long Beach. I want people to think of Kin Hoi when they think of shellfish.

I’m not here to compete with the big seafood brands, I want to create a new category – shellfish – for Kin Hoi.

Daniel Teo, co-founder of Kin Hoi

Besides the quality of the food, customer service is also a key priority for Daniel and his team.

Take a quick look at Kin Hoi’s website and you’ll notice a review page flooded with praise from customers.

Daniel believes that one of the key aspects of running a restaurant business is customer service. “It’s not about how much you sell, it’s about your customers’ trust,” he said.

To achieve his long-term goals for Kin Hoi, he plans to continue developing the brand and promoting his products. More research and development to create new dishes is also on the agenda.

“Someday Kin Hoi is going to be the thing that comes to your mind when you think of shellfish,” he said.

Featured Image Credit: Kin Hoi

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Jothi Venkat

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