Honestbee aspired to be Asia’s largest online on-demand concierge grocery delivery service and the world’s most convenient services marketplace ever. So, what led to its downfall?
In this newsletter, we are delighted to provide you with the case study that offers an opportunity to understand how the startup Honestbee failed and what you can learn from its mistakes.
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Honestbee is a company that primarily provides the online grocery shopping and delivery services. It was established in 2015 and is based in Singapore. Since then, Honestbee has expanded to include food and laundry delivery services, as well as Habitat, the “world’s first tech-enabled, multi-sensory grocery & dining destination”.
- Description: Grocery delivery, online food delivery, and laundry, eCommerce marketplace (Habitat), Logistics, Ticketing
- Category: Concierge services, Logistics, and eCommerce
- Country: Singapore
- Period: 2015–2020
- Size of the company: 1001–5000
- Number of funding rounds: 3
- Number of investors: 5
- Total amount raised: USD 49 million
Though once considered a successful Southeast Asian startup story, expanded into eight markets in three years, and was backed by a USD 49 million raised fund, Honestbee began to fall apart within a few months. The company had crumbled, its profits had been wiped out, and its reputation was in a total mess. So, what went wrong?
Honestbee started as Lifeopp, a job portal co-founded by Joel Sng in 2012, to provide income opportunities for service workers who could not work fixed hours. In 2014, Lifeopp went out of business. Still, Joel Sng, Jonathan Low, and Isaac Tay decided to take advantage of the gathered infrastructure and database assets and founded Honestbee, an online grocery delivery platform, in 2015.
The Failure Points
With USD 49 million in funding, how did Honestbee fail? We have prepared a list of failure points you can learn from Honestbee.
- Failure Point #1: Lack of Focus
- Failure Point #2: Processes (Consolidation)
- Failure Point #3: Funding
- Failure Point #4: The People
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Startups Failure Checklist
Some issues are apparent. Some problems, however, are less obvious. That is why we provide you with a checklist summary of failure points. There would likely be a higher success percentage in future businesses if more people explored the following:
- Appoint key personnel
- Have a clear direction and communicate it clearly to the employees
- Establish clear direction and priorities, and set up a system monitor and review product KPIs
- Understand requirements and mindset needed to shift the company’s business model
- Establish and review operational processes
- Have product KPIs:
- Discontinue products that are not sustainable
- Allow operations to stabilise before launching new products
Click here to read the full Startups Failure Checklist at Substack!
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