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Singapore’s Grain, a profitable food delivery startup, pulls in $10M for expansion – TechCrunch

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Cloud kitchens are the big thing in food delivery, with ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new business one contender in that space, with Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, a major focus. Despite the newcomers, a more established startup from Singapore has raised a large bowl of cash to go after regional expansion.

Founded in 2014, Grain specializes in clean food while it takes a different approach to Kalanick’s CloudKitchens or food delivery services like Deliveroo, FoodPanda or GrabFood.

It adopted a cloud kitchen model — utilizing unwanted real estate as kitchens, with delivery services for output — but used it for its own operations. So while CloudKitchens and others rent their space to F&B companies as a cheaper way to make food for their on-demand delivery customers, Grain works with its own chefs, menu and delivery team. A so-called ‘full stack’ model if you can stand the cliched tech phrase.

Finally, Grain is also profitable. The new round has it shooting for growth — more on that below — but the startup was profitable last year, CEO and co-founder Yi Sung Yong told TechCrunch.

Now it is reaping the rewards of a model that keeps it in control of its product, unlike others that are complicated by a chain that includes the restaurant and a delivery person.

We previously wrote about Grain when it raised a $1.7 million Series A back in 2016 and today it announced a $10 million Series B which is led by Thailand’s Singha Ventures, the VC arm of the beer brand. A bevy of other investors took part, including Genesis Alternative Ventures, Sass Corp, K2 Global — run by serial investor Ozi Amanat who has backed Impossible Foods, Spotify and Uber among others — FoodXervices and Majuven. Existing investors Openspace Ventures, Raging Bull — from Thai Express founder Ivan Lee — and Cento Ventures participated.

The round includes venture debt, as well as equity, and it is worth noting that the family office of the owners of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — Sassoon Investment Corporation — was involved.

Grain covers individual food as well as buffets in Singapore

Three years is a long gap between the two deals — Openspace and Cento have even rebranded during the intervening period — and the ride has been an eventful one. During those years, Sung said the business had come close to running out of capital before it doubled down on the fundamentals before the precarious runway capital ran out.

In fact, he said, the company — which now has over 100 staff — was fully prepared to self-sustain.

“We didn’t think of raising a Series B,” he explained in an interview. “Instead, we focused on the business and getting profitable… we thought that we can’t depend entirely on investors.”

And, ladies and gentleman, the irony of that is that VCs very much like a business that can self-sustain — it shows a model is proven — and investing in a startup that doesn’t need capital can be attractive.

Ultimately, though, profitability is seen as sexy today — particularly in the meal space where countless U.S. startups has shuttered including Munchery and Sprig — but the focus meant that Grain had to shelve its expansion plans. It then went through soul-searching times in 2017 when a spoilt curry saw 20 customers get food poisoning.

Sung declined to comment directly on that incident, but he said that company today has developed the “infrastructure” to scale its business across the board, and that very much includes quality control.

Grain co-founder and CEO Yi Sung Yong [Image via LinkedIn]

Grain currently delivers “thousands” of meals per day in Singapore, its sole market, with eight-figures in sales per year, he said. Last year, growth was 200 percent, Sung continued, and now is the time to look overseas. With Singha, the Grain CEO said the company has “everything we need to launch in Bangkok.”

Thailand — which Malaysia-based rival Dahamakan picked for its first expansion — is the only new launch on the table, but Sung said that could change.

“If things move faster, we’ll expand to more cities, maybe one per year,” he said. “But we need to get our brand, our food and our service right first.”

One part of that may be securing better deals for raw ingredients and food from suppliers. Grain is expanding its ‘hub’ kitchens — outposts placed strategically around town to serve customers faster — and growing its fleet of trucks, which are retrofitted with warmers and chillers for deliveries to customers.

Grain’s journey is proof that startups in the region will go through trials and tribulations, but being able to bolt down the fundamentals and reduce burn rate is crucial in the event that things go awry. Just look to grocery startup Honestbee, also based in Singapore, for evidence of what happens when costs are allowed to pile up.

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12 Best Uses For Old Computer Keyboards

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Maybe you want to wear your love of keyboards on your sleeve, but earrings and charm bracelets are just a little too ostentatious for your taste. Enter the subtler and more stylish buttons and cufflinks. Not only is this a more discreet way of keeping your old keyboard close, but it’s also among the easiest projects we have for you.

You’ll only need a few supplies, at least one of which you already have at hand. There aren’t any scissors or saws, and you won’t be using any power tools. All you need is your old keyboard, an adhesive like epoxy, and the base of a cufflink or button, both of which you can find at your local craft store or online.

Before you get started, however, take a moment to inspect your keyboard. Consider the wide array of buttons, each with its own special function. Now choose your favorites. Those are the keys you want to carefully remove. If you’re making cufflinks, you’ll need at least two keys. If you’re making buttons, the sky’s the limit.

Now take out a flathead screwdriver — the only tool you’re going to need — and pop the keys you’ve chosen off of the keyboard frame. Once you’ve got them all liberated, generously apply adhesive to the back side of each key and jam the cufflink or button base right in there. Wait for it to cure and you’re ready to attach them to your favorite threads.

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28% Of Car Lovers Most Want To Own This Banned Vehicle

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In a SlashGear poll with 590 U.S. respondents, 27.97% said they would love to own Lamborghini Diablo Strosek. The Italian supercar is not street legal in the U.S. because it’s too fast. If pushed to the limit, the Lamborghini Diablo can exceed 200 mph — this made it the fastest car when it was released in 1990. But it was a German designer known as Vittorio Strosek who modified it and made it even more difficult for it to pass the FMVSS regulations. Because of the 25-year rule, you’re only allowed to import a Lamborghini Diablo that was produced between 1990 to 1997.

The second most popular option in the poll was the Porsche 959, which was picked by 25.25% of the respondents. Just like Lamborghini Diablo, Porsche 959 is super-fast but it doesn’t exceed 200 mph — the best it can do is 198 mph in the Sport variant. However, the real reason Porsche 959 was never sold in the U.S. is that the automaker didn’t want to have its very expensive cars crash tested by NHTSA. Despite the Porsche 959 quickly selling out after it was released, the manufacturer was making a loss selling the car — and if NHTSA crash tested a minimum of four cars, it would have lost more money.

Besides that, 19.83% of the participants said they would prefer Honda ATC and 16.95% wanted Nissan GT-R Skyline. The Smart Crossblade was the least popular option at 10%. 

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The Reason Why NYC Destroys Hundreds Of Dirt Bikes And ATVs Each Year

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In 2021, eight people were killed by dirt bikes or ATVs, and the New York Police Department, along with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, went on a crusade to get rid of illegal vehicles, according to The City. By the end of the year, the city had seized and subsequently destroyed approximately 500 bikes. As many as 3,000 were ultimately crushed under the tracked wheels of a bulldozer in 2021 (via The City).

When new Mayor Eric Adams took office on January 1, 2022, he continued the fight. By June, they had seized over 2,000 bikes — almost 80% over the number they took by that time the previous year. And there’s no sign of letting up, with the police nabbing more than 250 on a single Sunday in August.

The dirt bikes and ATVs are not street legal to begin with, lacking several required features like turn signals, brake lights, and mirrors. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, any 1985 or newer motorcycle must be equipped with directional or turn signals that show amber to the front and red or amber to the rear. It must also have an adjustable rear view mirror, a red stop lamp on the back, and a headlamp on the front of the vehicle. None of these things are found on a vast majority of the illegal vehicles that, as Mayor Adams put it, are continuing to terrorize the city.

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