Co-founders Zane and Eliza share the story of creating KopiRun and their hopes for the app moving forward.
In January 2020, 25-year-old Eliza (not her real name) noticed that her colleagues were always picking up food for others on the go.
This was all the more apparent during lunchtime when work got busy and some colleagues had to get help from others to pack food and drinks on their way back.
“I know that some of my colleagues are super into bubble tea and they will definitely get one on the way,” Eliza shared.
“So I thought: What if there was a way for them to alert other people in the building that they are about to go somewhere and allow others to request for them to dapao something back as well?”
That spun the idea for KopiRun, a platform that allows users to organise and join group takeaways more easily. The app was created by Eliza and 28-year-old Zane Chua. The pair had met each other while working for a tech company and decided to build KopiRun together.
Combining their knowledge of engineering and computer science, Zane and Eliza began developing the app in February 2020.
After countless sleepless nights and brainstorming sessions, the duo finally launched KopiRun on Jun 6 this year. The app has garnered over 400 sign ups since its official launch.
With KopiRun, users can request food, drinks and groceries from people nearby so that they don’t have to go out and do it, especially if they do not have the time to do so.
Alternatively, users could also pick up a request from someone in their neighbourhood or office if they are on their way out for a coffee run or grocery shopping – and earn a small fee in the process.
“Let’s say I’m about to go to a Gongcha outlet opposite my building. All I have to do is take out the app, just specify what shop I’m going to, what time to meet up, where to meet up and how much additional order fee I would like to charge,” explained Eliza, who prefers not to be identified and requested for anonymity.
After a user places a request on KopiRun, others nearby will be notified to place orders via the app. The user making the request can choose to accept or decline the order and charge any additional fees.
While there are no limits set for the fee, $2 is the recommended amount.
The app also provides a chat feature that allows users to communicate with the other party placing the order. Those who have special requests for their food – such as having less sugar in their coffee – can indicate so.
Unlike other existing neighbourhood chat groups that facilitate group buys, KopiRun allows nearby users to know when a KopiRun request has been made.
In addition, KopiRun protects users’ privacy by disabling other parties from seeing information such as their profile picture and phone number, which can be viewed in WhatsApp and Telegram chat groups.
Originally slated to be named BobaRun, the app was renamed KopiRun as a nod to the concept of a coffee run. As bubble tea isn’t a trend adopted widely around the world, the co-founders didn’t want the app to be overly colloquial or limited to Singapore.
“This year, we added multi-country support. So there is actually support for all countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand. So people from those countries can also use our app,” Zane said.
Given the plight of Singapore’s hawkers due to the pandemic, both Eliza and Zane hope that KopiRun can serve as a way to encourage people to buy food from hawker centres.
“One way that you could help hawkers is if you are about to go to your nearby hawker centre, just take orders from your other neighbours as well and ask them what they want.
“I think this platform would help to facilitate that order taking so that you don’t have to knock on everyone’s door and ask them if they want anything. You just make a request,” Eliza said.
Built upon the idea of a neighbourhood group concept, KopiRun can also help restore the kampung spirit that is missing in modern Singapore. As the app facilitates interactions and collections between neighbours, it helps foster the kampung spirit and build rapport.
“It’s very common for us young Singaporeans that we don’t know our neighbours very well. So I hope that maybe this is one way we can drive the app into really building community among the apartments and HDB blocks that we live in,” Zane said.
Zane and Eliza are looking to improve the development of the app by including user ratings and reviews in the future.
“People need a way to know whether they can trust the other person making the offer or making the request,” Eliza said.
Besides including user ratings and customisable distances, they will also be taking users’ feedback into account to improve the app.
Zane shared: “We don’t want to be one of those companies that don’t talk to their users… Whatever ideas come that are contributed by our users, we will take them seriously, both from a positive and negative perspective.”
They also hope to expand KopiRun to other Southeast Asian countries due to its dense population, making them an ideal target group for the app.
So, whenever you feel like getting coffee but don’t feel like going to the store, or perhaps you’ve run out of eggs and milk, try KopiRun. Someone near you could be going out and can help do a takeaway on their way back.
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