Young millionaires now go fresh
IT WAS an e-mail message which set them on the road to millions.
Four years ago, brothers Karl and Christopher Chong founded local online coupon website Beeconomic, after Karl's friend sent him an e-mail message with a Groupon coupon.
Just six months after Beeconomic started operations, American online discount site Groupon acquired it for a reported US$24 million.
Karl, 32, the older brother, was Groupon Singapore's chief executive, and Christopher, 25, was its marketing director until they stepped down in September last year.
Now, it's a casual dinner that could determine the next phase of their lives.
"We were eating with Julian at his home and we wondered, wouldn't it be great if we could order meats and seafood from the comfort of our couch," Christopher told My Paper. He was referring to Julian Lee, 35, a supplier of fresh produce to over 50 restaurants here.
That was in January.
Fast forward six months, and their next project, GoFresh, an online grocery portal offering home delivery of premium meats and seafood, has been launched.
"Karl and I wanted to create another start-up," he said.
The Chong brothers, along with Mr Lee and his sister, Joanne Lui, 39, pumped in $100,000 to kickstart the business.
Like Groupon's weekly deals, GoFresh features "fresh deals" on meats and seafood "that match or beat supermarket prices".
The response has been good so far. On the very first day of their launch two weeks ago, they received an order for 50 pieces of gourmet steak.
At least, the 25-year-old millionaire doesn't have to bother about studying law any more.
He had been doing that at a Sydney university, and was willing to "try anything, including modelling, acting and starting Beeconomic, to avoid becoming a lawyer".
"Karl was able to seize on the daily deal business model...just when Groupon was starting to gather steam in the United States. We started early and were able to carry a first-mover advantage in Singapore," he said.
Karl spent the first four years of his life in Singapore, before the family moved to Australia, where Christopher was born.
Beeconomic brought the brothers back here, and its sale to Groupon meant they could finally, well, sleep separately.
"The best thing was being able to get my own accommodation. Before then, Karl and I had been sharing a queen-size bed in a hostel in Little India, working out of foodcourts and using their free Wi-Fi."
But, while their Beeconomic success story was life-changing, they have no plans yet for GoFresh to become another multi-million-dollar deal.
Christopher said: "Eventually, we want to be a one-stop shop for all fresh produce...we're ensuring we get our meats and seafood right first, before expanding into fruit, veggies and other condiments.
"Becoming an entrepreneur might have been a desperate move to avoid becoming a corporate lawyer, but it's made me appreciate the importance of hard work and discipline."