S’pore startup Take App builds app to simplify WhatsApp ordering

In today’s fast-paced world, consumers expect speed, convenience, and efficiency in their day-to-day activities. Ordering food online is no exception.

However, not all businesses can afford to invest in expensive e-commerce platforms or have the technical expertise to set up an online ordering system. That’s where Take App comes in.

It was founded in 2020 by Kim Youmin, who studied computer engineering in South Korea.

His first job was as a software engineer at LG Electronics and he later moved to Singapore to work as an engineer at Facebook (now Meta). He left the company in 2021, but during his time there, his team launched several commerce products in Southeast Asia, including Marketplace and Instagram Shopping.

An idea born during the COVID pandemic

Take App is an online ordering platform that helps small businesses streamline their ordering process through WhatsApp.

The idea first came to Youmin when he was ordering food from neighbouring restaurants and Facebook groups using WhatsApp during the COVID-19 lockdown. The ordering process was inefficient, and the owners had to manually respond to and track many WhatsApp conversations.

As such, Take App was born out of the need to make the process more efficient, and Youmin set out to create an online order form that focuses on WhatsApp ordering.

I was inspired by Chinese dim sum restaurants that ask customers to fill in an item quantity form and later confirm orders. With our order form, customers can choose what they want without having to ask the owners questions.

The owner receives the order details via WhatsApp and settles payments and delivery through WhatsApp conversations. This makes the ordering process significantly efficient and helps small businesses with a digital gap.

– Kim Youmin, founder of Take App

To cater to business owners who may not be well-versed in technology, Youmin developed Take App with a user-friendly interface. The platform leverages the use of online menu websites and WhatsApp, eliminating the need for any app installations or complicated settings.

In June 2022, the startup closed a seed funding round that was led by Y Combinator’s Winter 22 batch. Y Combinator, Meta, and an undisclosed list of angels invested US$1 million in the company.

It started out as a non-profit venture

Initially starting as a nonprofit to assist small restaurants in Singapore in accepting online orders, Kim discovered a significant opportunity to turn Take App into a commercial venture.

In the early days of Take App, Youmin manually created order forms for a few restaurant owners who consistently uploaded their food options to Facebook groups. He shared the order form links in their Facebook group posts as comments and encouraged customers to use them to save time for the owners.

The response was positive, and many people started using the order forms through word-of-mouth in the community. In just three months, Take App reached 200,000 website visitors per month.

However, one of the key challenges Take App faced is serving customers who are not tech-savvy and less committed to the platform.

We overcome this challenge by doubling down on WhatsApp ordering, which is free, flexible, immediate, and economically efficient. Our customers can chat directly with their end customers on WhatsApp without a middleman, which saves money as there is no commission involved.

Although we may lose some merchants who need standard e-commerce services, we focus on building global products for WhatsApp ordering instead.

– Kim Youmin, founder of Take App

Last year, Take App also helps businesses in retaining customers by keeping a database and providing assistance in creating and sending newsletters, similar to a “Mailchimp for WhatsApp.” These newsletters may contain exclusive offers or relevant updates about the company to entice customers to return.

Since its launch, TakeApp has seen consistent growth. When restrictions were lifted in 2021, website traffic dropped by 30 per cent, but the core merchants did not experience major churn as many customers still prefer using WhatsApp ordering.

Some of Take App’s customers / Image Credit: Take App

Today, Take App has over 20,000 merchants and paid customers from more than 30 countries and is an official WhatsApp Business Solution provider. Apart from restaurants, Take App also caters to other businesses such as bakeries, grocery stores, and beauty salons.

The rise of WhatsApp bots

Image Credit: Take App

The company’s focus is on end-to-end automation of WhatsApp customer support. This is a major pain point for the merchant community due to high labour costs.

Take App plans to expand its product line to include general customer support such as Q&A and table reservation, allowing merchants to reduce labour costs by using WhatsApp bots.

We already use a WhatsApp bot in our customer support, and people usually don’t even realise it’s a bot. We believe that hiring a WhatsApp bot for customer support will become as commonplace as hiring a human customer support staff member.

– Kim Youmin, founder of Take App

Take App’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology generates natural conversations, enabling merchants to adapt their tone and knowledge in conversations.

For example, the bot can ask a merchant, “A group of four people wants to walk-in in five minutes. Should we accept the booking?” Upon receiving a “Yes” response, the bot confirms the booking and guides the customers, ultimately saving valuable time compared to manual conversations.

The product is currently in closed beta with more than 10 merchants, and Take App plans to launch it publicly later this year.

Featured Image Credit: Take App

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