KL-based food-tech startup SmartBite expands to the Philippines strengthening its presence in Southeast Asia

Malaysian AI and Foodtech startup SmartBite raises a fresh round of funding to expand corporate offerings

The Philippines, 7 September 2020: Launched in 2017, Malaysia-based SmartBite— an AI-powered corporate catering startup, has expanded to the Philippines in line with their vision to establish themselves as the go-to corporate catering company in Southeast Asia. After successfully capturing the Malaysian market with more than 200 restaurants and caterers listed on their platform and a five-fold revenue growth yearly, SmartBite is ready to enter the Filipino market and strengthen its position in the food-tech landscape in the region. 

Since their soft launch in the Philippines, SmartBite has already managed to onboard a few regional corporate clients, including Zalora, and other BPOs. 

This announcement comes after the appointment of the new CEO and co-founder Alessandro Voltolini earlier this year and SmartBite’s gradual pivot from B2C food delivery in the corporate space to corporate online catering in the past one year.

“In the Philippines, we are aiming to tap into the catering industry for BPOs. Currently, there are more than 1.35 million employees working under the IT-BPM industry. By 2022, this number is expected to reach 1.85 million,” shared SmartBite CEO and co-founder Alessandro Voltolini 

Having worked as Group Managing Director at HappyFresh for more than three years prior to joining SmartBite, Alessandro comes with extensive experience in building and scaling teams and processes across the region.

Helping employers provide flexible and affordable meal plans to the workforce

SmartBite’s corporate catering model is quite successful in Malaysia with clients like Zalora, Lazada and General ELectric onboard. 

“With the onset of the lockdown period, we quickly moved to a work-from-home set up for the majority of our team members with only our frontliners in our fulfillment center reporting in person. SmartBite helped us facilitate affordable and hygienic meal solutions for our frontliners during this challenging time which allowed our team members to focus on their jobs without having to worry about lunch every day. In addition, SmartBite arranged for packed food basket solutions that they arranged to be delivered to each of our employees’ homes, which our employees appreciated very much as they continue to work from home during the pandemic. ” shared Glenda Hernandez, Head of HR for ZALORA Philippines. 

In June 2020 alone, the startup witnessed a six-fold revenue growth as compared to the previous year’s corresponding month. In the same month, the company successfully delivered around 3000 individual meals to employees of the Malaysian insurance company AIA Bhd, across various residential addresses, all at the same time.

The startup hopes to recreate this success in the Filipino market by helping employers develop employee meal plan solutions that are flexible, affordable and easy to implement.

The COVID-19 crisis is the Philippines is still at its peak with the country’s caseload now standing at more than 189,601 and counting. With face masks as well as face shields mandatory at all times, it is difficult for people to dine outside especially during peak lunch hours. 

This is where SmartBite can step in and help employers provide safe, convenient, and affordable solutions for their workers. With SmartBite, companies can provide in-house meal options so that their employees do not have to venture out and put themselves at risk around the lunch crowd. SmartBite can help employers take care of their employees whether they are working from home or out of the office.

Creating what caterers need and equipping them with technology to serve better

SmartBite is focused on helping caterers create what the people want. Amidst the coronavirus crisis, the food-tech startup adapted menus to create safe sealed bento boxes to help caterers continue their service while providing people with hygienic food without much hassle.

“We intend to be the largest food catering marketplace in Southeast Asia and to do so, we are dedicated to continuously provide professional caterers with the best easy to use tech tools for them to satisfy the catering needs, which are massively moving online around the world,” shared Alessandro.

SmartBite understands the importance of efficient digitalization of the food industry— just being online is not enough. The startup equips caterers to sell and function more efficiently with data collection that enables them to track and analyse trends. The startup has built tools to enable restaurants and caterers customize optimal delivery models and the applicable charges, which are borne by corporate clients. Customers get itemised invoices and employers have a clear breakdown of the payments done for the food and delivery.

With this expansion, SmartBite hopes to help revolutionize the catering industry in the Philippines while also helping employers, employees and caterers alike survive and sustain during these difficult times.

The startup is also in the midst of a pre-Series A funding round and is hoping to raise a capital of 2 million USD to boost scalability across the region. The startup has already raised 900,000 USD to date, in previous seed rounds.

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