Honestbee: concierge groceries

Honestbee is one of Asia’s leading online grocery concierge service for household and grocery needs. Operating in major cities in Asia, the service can deliver to your doorstep on the same day.

Honestbee began operations in 2015, and officially launched their first market – Singapore – in July 2015. According to the company, their goal is to get you what you need, when you need it. In-store concierge shopper bees are trained by honestbee to make sure the items in the customers’ shopping carts, including meat and produce, are carefully handpicked with freshness guaranteed. With their technological expertise and efficient network, they aim to bring convenience and ease to your shopping by delivering your groceries within an hour.

Honestbee strongly believes in giving back to society. Founded on the principles of being a social impact business, they seek to provide extensive skills upgrading and training programmes, and to create equal employment opportunities for everyone in our communities through technology.

Company history
The previous rendition of honestbee was an online job-matchmaking site that was started because of a common belief – the process of hiring and finding a job online can be better and more fruitful for everyone.
They later developed it into honestbee, which allowed them to provide the masses who can’t work fixed hours with income opportunities; the blue-collared workers.
The founders chose grocery shopping because, (1) quality can be standardised and maintained; (2) grocery shopping happens more frequently; (3) stores are distributed which means more workers do not have to travel very far to get to work. As such, grocery shopping will generate a higher sustainable demand for labour.

Today, the company boasts strong partnerships with trusted brands and retailers. This allows them to offer more than 60,000 items – from the shelves of well-known major supermarket brands and highly curated specialty partners in each city. Customers can order from more than 10 stores in one single order.

Ordering from honestbee: Customers can visit honestbee.sg or simply use the honestbee app, downloadable via Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Just add the items to the cart, choose a preferred one hour delivery time slot (customers can shop up to seven days in advance) and proceed to checkout. An honestbee concierge shopper bee will receive the order and start shopping one hour before the stipulated delivery time slot to ensure quality and freshness. A delivery bee then delivers the order to the customer within the selected time slot.

Today, Honestbee is headquartered in Singapore and operates in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei as well as a seasonal store in Niseko.

Honest Bee was founded by Joel Sng, Isaac Tay and Jonathan Low.
Joel Sng, CEO and co-founder
Joel started his career in investment banking and has long held a passion for businesses with transformative potential. Along the way, he has invested in a number of early to mid-stage companies across various geographies and sectors.
Joel is a graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelors degree in Economics.

Isaac Tay, Head of Product and co-founder
Isaac Tay is Head of Products and Co-Founder at honestbee. Honestbee’s vision is to build the largest and most convenient online supermarket and Isaac is driven by the mission to create happy homes with delightful services and flexible jobs.

Jonathan Low, co-founder
Jonathan caught the start-up bug when he spent a year overseas in Silicon Valley working for a mobile payments start-up under the NUS Overseas College Programme. As co­founder of honestbee, Jonathan is involved with all aspects of the business from recruiting, operations to engineering.

There are a fair amount of competitors in the grocery space including Redmart, HappyFresh, PurelyFresh, and many others.

What differentiates Honestbee, according to the company, is that they are fundamentally a social impact business.
As a social impact business, their focus is on creating sustainable jobs first. They are dedicated to creating economic opportunities for their shoppers – offering people with unconventional schedules, like students or stay-at-home mothers, good jobs through flexible hours and fair pay.

As an on-demand business, they add value to traditional retailers by bringing them sales, and to their customers by bringing convenience. They are a one-stop grocery store which allows customers to buy from over 10 different types of stores with one single check out. At the same time, their platform helps these SME businesses increase sales and be more profitable by bringing them online immediately.
Honestbee’s commitment to quality, their trained and dedicated concierge shoppers and speedy delivery bees, as well as their ability to help other businesses are their unique advantages that have allowed them to ship fresh products among other things.

On 20 October 2015, honestbee announced that it had successfully raised seed funding of US$15 million.

Participants include Pejman Mar Ventures (early investors of Dropbox, Lending Club and DoorDash), Gideon Yu (former CFO of Facebook and YouTube, as well as the co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers), Owen T. Van Natta (founding team of Amazon’s search company A9.com and former COO of Facebook. He is currently also part of 415 Investments) and Steve Chen (Google Ventures Advisor, as well as co-founder and former CTO of YouTube).