And Sugar helps SMEs in the process too.
The word boring is a bane to Singapore’s global image. The city-state is often depicted as clean but dull, and Singapore’s diverse and quirky offerings usually get overshadowed in the process.
Sugar is out to change all that. This interactive city guide allows locals and tourists alike to re-discover Singapore by showcasing interesting experiences and offerings located near the user, with a wide array of listings spanning F&B, entertainment and services.
But Sugar is not all about having a good time. Benjamin Lee, the app’s CEO and co-founder, shared that Sugar is also working to support Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“It is no secret that many small and medium businesses are struggling, particularly those in the retail and F&B space. We want to help them get discovered, and we firmly believe that by encouraging a culture of discovery and exploration, we will be helping to build a sustainable ecosystem that will make it possible for small businesses thrive,” Lee told SBR.
Sugar encourages users to try new establishments by offering incentives such as discounts. Users can also get sweeter deals by sharing new places with friends through social media.
“We want to build a consumption culture where people actively look to seek out new, interesting experiences instead of just sticking with the familiar. We do not want to see a future where every single street corner and shopping mall is dominated only by generic mega-chains like McDonald’s, Starbucks and KFC, yet that is going to become a reality unless we do more to support small local businesses,” Lee said.
The app was founded by Lee, a Hong Kong-born Singaporean entrepreneur, and UK-born computer science graduate and former strategy consultant Steven Barling.
Lee is a former lawyer, venture capitalist and strategy consultant to a major global bank. He is currently an angel investor and mentor in 6 other startups and has founded five other startups in the past.
Barling, the app’s Chief Product Officer, is a former strategy consultant for Fortune 500 companies and a former strategy consultant for a venture capital fund in South Africa.
Sugar has been launched in Singapore and Hong Kong to great success--it has acquired over 800 merchant partners within less than a year and is now one of the fastest-growing startups in the region.
It has also been backed by prominent investors such as Koh Boon Hwee, Chairman of Credence Partners and former Chairman of SingTel, DBS and Singapore Airlines, and Lim Ho Kee, Chairman of Singapore Post.
“I believe small business owners demonstrate a lot of courage and innovation in what they do, and they add a lot of colour and diversity to our social fabric. This is something that should be cherished and celebrated,” Lee said.
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