By Chuan Limin
Glen, Naren, and Charis never sleep before midnight on weekday nights. But from 10pm-1am they aren’t touching schoolwork.
They are sat outside the Cinnamon lobby, together with their fourth member Ghazali, occupying a single wooden table. Unless you look closely, you wouldn’t guess that they were busy running their own business.
It started from a prata craving (talk about humble beginnings!). “We were hanging around UTown one day. I really wanted prata at that time – but there was none. So we had to create something that serviced our own needs, and the needs of others as well,” Glen recounted.
With that simple sentiment, Suppertime was born. For the uninitiated, Suppertime is a supper delivery business that currently caters to the UTown population. It brings busy students food from two Indian eateries along Clementi Road – Putera Puteri Our Makan Place and Niqqi’s The Cheese Prata Shop – and salmon sushi on Wednesday nights. It is the convenient hack to our late night supper cravings.
Since launching in the second week of Semester 2 this year, Suppertime has grown steadily. Word has spread. Sales have gone up. It is safe to say that business has somewhat stabilised after a bumpy start.
“The first couple of weeks were turbulent, because of all these holidays coming on. Then we hit CNY, where people obviously had enough food, so they stopped ordering,” said Naren.
Thankfully, Suppertime isn’t just another food delivery service, and its founders aren’t just out to make a quick buck. Unique to Suppertime is the philosophy that students deserve affordable, yet quality, convenience. It is easy to attach a large premium to the reliable services they provide, but the people behind Suppertime are loyal to their beliefs.
So when CNY came around and sales dropped, they weighed their options. “It was between closing Suppertime for the entire week or closing off for just the 2 CNY days. But we wanted to remain accountable and reliable in terms of supper delivery, we don’t want to be closing off every single time just because of profits – it’s not something people can actually count on if they wanted late night supper. And so we remained open.”
Glen continued, “We are aiming to make it cheap and affordable on the consumer side. There’s no way I will make my clients pay [a high price] cause I won’t pay it myself. You realise you want to sell something ethical too.”
This philosophy extends to their hiring external riders. Delivery of the suppers each night are outsourced to non-NUS riders, managed by Ghazali. “We are always looking for more riders. For now, we have 1 rider covering [the deliveries]. One of the main problems we had with supper time was the labour. Because labour is expensive, though we want to give a fair wage to everybody,” said Glen.
Their end-goals of delivering an affordable product, appropriate wages and quality service, all while covering overhead costs, means they have multiple bottom lines. On one hand, success is measured in “the number of sales every night”. Yet there is no true success without sustainability. “I would like to see the company grow to the point where, even after we leave, it stays on. That someone will take over and carry on Suppertime – is a legacy that we wish to see,” said Naren.
In the startup culture we live in today, there seems to be great prestige in rising as a solitary genius or lone entrepreneur. However, the team behind Suppertime proves that that “me first” approach is old and tired. True wealth breeds in community. That’s why Glen – who handles backend operations, marketing and contracts, Naren – who manages the hiring and training of cashiers, Charis – the resident cashier, and Ghazali – who manages the riders, achieve so much more together. Suppertime would not be where it is without their collective vision and desire to bring into existence something from nothing.
Congratulations and all the best, Suppertime! (Discounts would be awesome too.)
Suppertime is operational from Mondays-Thursdays, 10pm-1am.
The team consists of Glen Ong (Year 3 Life Science), V Narendar Nag (Year 2 Mech Eng + USP), Chia Zhen Charis (Year 1 Sociology + USP) and Mohammad Ghazali bin Ali.