［Hong Kong Economic Journal – 12/09/2018］
【How a startup connects local home chefs with travelers】
//TravoAsia, a Hong Kong-based startup that is less than a year old, aims to connect people who love cooking and hosting dinners with people who love eating authentic at-home dinners.
Founders by an entrepreneur named Stephen Leung, TravoAsia’s home dining experiences are now offered in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan Japan, Korea, and Thailand, serving cuisines ranging from Hong Kong local seafood to Thai, Singapore, Chinese, Italian, French and other food.
Launched last December, TravoAsia now has about 1200 “foodies” and over 40 chefs registered on its platform.
Users can access the platform via the web page or a mobile application and search for a kitchen and chef available on a chosen date. After selecting the menu, the number of people, and date and time, the user can choose between two types of reservation, “Reserved Table” and “Shared Table”.
Under the first type, the chef will only serve the user’s group of people, while in the latter, the reservation will be opened for anyone, which targets users willing to meet new friends during the dining experience.
The platform handles user payments with an online payment system, allowing people to pay via PayPal or direct bank transfer (Hong Kong district only).
Leung, the founder and CEO, was earlier involved in the computer and mobile games development field. He founded the game company Linksolutions Games in 2005 and developed over 20 games. During that period, Leung traveled around the globe for business.
“There were times that I didn’t know what to order at restaurants [overseas],” he said, adding that it is how he camp up with the idea of a service that would enable travelers to access local food and community while in foreign lands.
Leung has been roping in, via social media platforms like Instagram, people who love cooking and hosting dinners. He also personally visits every chef applicant to ensure that all the chefs registered on the platform have good culinary skills and “friendly to new acquaintances.”
“The money earned from hosting these dinners through TravoAsia will not be the main income source for our chefs,” said Leung, noting that the chefs do not work full-time for the platform.
To ensure ample manpower during peak periods like holidays and festivals, Leung is looking to expand the chef base of the platform to about 100 by the end of this year.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 12
Translation by Ben Ng