This article was first published on December 24, 2020.
One of the distinctive features of the Indonesian tech startup ecosystem is its close relation to the informal sector. A leading example would be gojek, who started out by working with motorbike taxi riders (ojek) and helping them embrace the digital era by enabling customers to hail them from a mobile app. Another good example would be Warung Pintar, who is helping mom-and-pop stores (warung) digitalise its operations.
These startups have raised a great amount of funding and made a difference in the ways Indonesians are using these services.
Today, at the end of 2020, another startup is getting ready to innovate with the informal sector: Lahapp.
Lahapp aims to innovate how customers are interacting with travelling food vendor, or known as pedagang keliling. Commonly found in both urban and suburban areas, food sellers travelled by foot, bicycle, or motorbike to offer their products directly to customers in their residences. They usually use a modified cart to carry and prepare their products.
A notable part of Indonesian street food culture, it provides a level of convenience that can only be rivalled by food delivery services. But there is one simple barrier to accessing these services: Sometimes, you might just miss it.
This is something that Lahapp founder Rachmat Efendi has experienced many times before.
“… There is a segment in the culinary industry that remains untouched by digital innovation, and that is travelling food vendor. Often we wait for our favourite bubur, bakso, or nasi goreng seller, but we miss them –simply because we fail to hear them coming or we happen to be away from home. This is something that has happened to a lot of people, including myself,” he explains.
“This is why we are building an on-demand feature that enables customers to check and summon food vendors in his area.”
The Lahapp service is available as a mobile app and a WhatsApp chat. In addition to travelling food vendor, customers can also use the app to order frozen or packaged food from sellers in other cities.
The platform is currently undergoing the testing process and is set for a launch in Q1 2021. In its debut, Lahapp will be available for users in Greater Jakarta Area and Bandung.
The startup says that it has secured 3,800 culinary merchants onboard its platform.
Learning from experience
The Lahapp platform is currently run by a team of 10, including the founder.
Efendi himself is not a new face in the local startup ecosystem. He was known as the COO and co-founder of Anterin, a logistics tech startup that was acquired by MNC Group in January.
There are valuable lessons that Efendi has learned from his time with Anterin that he is implementing at Lahapp. One of them is related to scaling up.
“The number of downloads is proportionate to the investment required to build infrastructure. This is why we need to choose an optimum platform, be it from the perspective of technology or investment. This is why Lahapp is available as a mobile app and WhatsApp chat,” he elaborates.
“WhatsApp was chosen … as it was already a default platform for communication. It also does not require a great investment in building infrastructure. It is just like a chatbot, but it does more than just doing conversation,” Efendi continues.
To acquire its users –from customers to merchants to couriers– Lahapp utilises omnichannel marketing strategies. It also plans to team up with cooperatives and local businesses to grow its presence in Indonesian cities.
In the future, Lahapp wants to expand its offerings to include other services including airline ticket booking and even vehicle registration number extension.
It also believes that working with travelling food vendor will open the door to many great opportunities.
“We have yet to find a platform or registry that keeps a record of the number of travelling food vendors in Indonesia. If we are able to seize this opportunity, this segment will be able to compete with others in the culinary industries,” Efendi says.
“At the moment, there are many food vendors that are not able to register their service on various food delivery platforms as they are unable to fulfil the administrative requirements. This is why Lahapp decides to tap into this opportunity,” he closes.
Lahapp is currently fundraising for its first funding round.
Image Credit: Lahapp
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