Flash Espresso CEO On Operating A Tech-Enabled Espresso Chain In S’pore

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If you’ve walked down Robinson Road or One Raffles Place, you would probably have noticed a bright yellow facade. Coffee drinkers with eye-catching yellow cups are also likely to have been seen nearby.

Flash Coffee, the popular coffee chain from Indonesia, moved into Singapore last October and now has five branches. It was first launched in January 2020 and today operates 50 locations in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

The tech-enabled coffee chain has gained a strong pull in its markets despite the pandemic. Most of their businesses are already profitable and showing the success of their business model.

The fast growing chain was founded by CEO David Brunier and COO Sebastian Hannecker. The duo started Flash Coffee as a single outlet in Jakarta with the aim of becoming a fully technical coffee chain.

Coffee that relies on tech

Photo credit: Flash Coffee

In an interview with Vulcan Post, David shared his observations about the coffee industry. It was largely not digitized, and many brands served average quality coffee at premium prices, making it largely unaffordable for mass markets.

He explained that the high prices mainly depend on spacious locations, under-optimized staff, and underutilized baristas. It was at this point in time that the avowed foodie and coffee lover realized that there was enormous potential to create a completely reinvented customer experience in the coffee industry.

Immediately after graduating, David spent more than four years at the European grocery shipping giant Delivery Hero SE with the aim of eventually building his own startup.

In 2019, the founders of Rocket Internet, Oliver Samwer and Alexander Kudlich, turned to him and asked if he was ready to start a new company with them. Rocket Internet is a Berlin-based technology incubator. The companies that Rocket Internet has endorsed include Lazada and Zalora.

“Around that time, Luckin Coffee had an initial public offering of $ 4 billion after 18 months of operation, which excited me and made me want to get a deeper look into the coffee industry,” said David.

David describes the day he met co-founder Sebastian as “probably the most impactful day for Flash Coffee” as the two hit it off the moment they met. They had a very similar idea of ​​how they envisioned Flash Coffee.

A year after its inception, Flash Coffee has grown into a full-fledged, technology-driven company “poised to help launch hundreds of stores and serve thousands of customer orders every day” over the next few months.

It does this through a variety of technological processes that the brand has incorporated into its business operations.

First, the consumer app enables customers to order and pay online, pick up or deliver their drinks, use Flash’s loyalty program, and take part in challenges.

The app also allows Flash to use e-commerce strategies to proactively attract and retain customers. This is reinventing the growth of coffee and F&B businesses and building their customer base.

Flash Coffee SingaporePhoto credit: Flash Coffee

It also enables Flash to attract customers who would never have walked past one of their points of sale independently.

Flash also has a barista app that bridges the gap between the consumer app and the particular point of sale where consumers order. According to David, it improves store operational efficiency and enables performance-based incentives for its baristas, ensuring an unparalleled customer experience.

In addition to apps, Flash is also working on the implementation of fully automatic inventory counts and orders using sensor technology. In addition, a central online configuration and monitoring system is used to prevent equipment failure and ensure product consistency across different points of sale.

Property tech software is used to understand customer flow, identify areas of high demand, and determine conversion rates for offline traffic.

Not your ordinary coffee brand

Flash Coffee SingaporePhoto credit: Flash Coffee

In addition to its technological capabilities, Flash also differs from other players in the industry through other metrics.

For example, the brand prides itself on its affordability. A regular Americano at Flash Coffee costs S $ 2.80 per cup and gives competitors a run for their money.

David told Vulcan Post that many customers are switching to Flash Coffee from other commercial coffee brands because they are looking for higher quality, yet more affordable, coffee options that they can enjoy on a daily basis.

Despite its affordable prices, it doesn’t compromise on quality.

The chain’s menu is curated by four internationally known barista champions. The brand’s goal is also to provide customers with a coffee experience that they normally only get in a specialty coffee shop.

In addition, the pandemic has tremendously changed the way consumers order and consume coffee. Many now have their coffee delivered and the Flash Coffee concept is the new normal.

Grow a coffee empire

Flash Coffee SingaporePhoto credit: Flash Coffee

Most recently, Flash Coffee raised $ 15 million in Series A funding led by global tech investment firm White Star Capital.

Other investors in the round, who raised the company’s total capital to $ 20 million, included Delivery Hero-backed DX Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and Switzerland-based venture capital firm Conny & Co.

The team now plans to open another 300 branches by the end of 2021. It is already launching three new stores per week, but plans to increase the number to 10 per week.

This is due to the significant increase in per capita coffee consumption in the region. Flash Coffee’s total addressable market is valued at more than $ 80 billion, according to David.

As coffee education progresses in Asia, so does the demand for premium coffee and higher quality options. We will continue to facilitate that demand by making premium coffee more accessible to the fast-moving middle class who cannot afford great coffee because of its price.

David Brunier, co-founder and CEO of Flash Coffee

Flash Coffee’s vision is to democratize high-quality coffee and make it accessible to the rising middle class in Asia.

To achieve this goal, the founders plan to build a technology-driven power plant to build new brands in the region, first-class operating processes and a fully integrated value chain including internal production facilities to further drive backward integration.

It also plans to set up its regional headquarters in Singapore, where over 90 new employees are expected to be hired by the end of 2021.

“We will continue to develop our core competencies of technology, operational excellence and brand building in order to be well equipped to outperform the F&B sector in Asia,” said David.

Selected image source: Flash Coffee

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