If you were walking down Robinson Road or One Raffles Place, the bright yellow shop window would probably catch your eye. Probably coffee-drinking people holding flashy yellow cups were also seen nearby.
Flash coffee, a beloved coffee chain from Indonesia, entered Singapore last October and now has five outlets here. It was first launched in January 2020, and now has 50 locations across Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
The coffee chain with technology enjoys a strong appeal in its markets despite the pandemic, as most of its stores have already achieved profitability and demonstrated the success of their business model.
The fast-growing chain was founded by CEO David Brunier and CEO Sebastian Hannecker. The duo launched Flash Coffee as a unique outlet in Jakarta, with the ambition to become a fully technologically driven coffee chain.
Coffee that takes advantage of technology
In an interview with the Vulcan Post, David shared his observations about the coffee industry. It was largely not digitized, and many brands served coffee of average quality at premium prices, making it largely inaccessible to mass markets.
He explained that the high prices were mainly caused by spacious locations, unoptimized staff and underutilized baristas. It was then that self-effacing gourmet and coffee lovers realized that there was huge potential for creating a fully imagined user experience in the coffee industry.
Immediately after university, David spent more than four years at the European food delivery giant Delivery Hero SE with the goal of eventually building his own startup.
In 2019, Rocket Internet founders Oliver Samwer and Alexander Kudlich approached him and asked if he would be open to starting a new company with them. Rocket Internet is a technology incubator based in Berlin, and some of the companies he helped run are Lazada and Zalora.
“It was around that time when Luckin Coffee after 18 months of operation had an IPO of $ 4 billion, which excited me and made me look deeper into the coffee industry,” David said.
David describes the day he met co-founder Sebastian as “probably the most influential day for Flash coffee,” as the two hit the moment they met. They had a very similar idea of how they envisioned Flash coffee.
A year after its launch, Flash Coffee has evolved into a full-fledged technology-driven company that is “ready to support the launch of hundreds of stores in the coming months and power thousands of our customers’ orders every day.”
This is achieved through the myriad technological processes that the brand has incorporated into its business.
First, its consumer app allows customers to order and pay online, pick up their drinks or deliver them, use the Flash loyalty program, and participate in challenges.
The app also allows Flash to use e-commerce strategies to proactively acquire and retain customers, rediscovering the way coffee and F&B businesses grow and build their customer bases.
It also allows Flash to attract customers who would never go through one of their outlets on their own.
Flash also has a barista app, which is a bridge between the consumer app and the corresponding outlets from which consumers order. According to David, it improves the operational efficiency of stores and provides performance-based incentives for its baristas, ensuring an unparalleled customer experience.
In addition to applications, Flash is also working on implementing fully automated inventory and order counting via sensor technology. Furthermore, it uses a centralized network configuration and monitoring system to avoid equipment failure and ensure product consistency across different outlets.
Asset software is used to understand customer flows, identify areas in high demand, and determine offline conversion rates.
It is not the leading brand of coffee
In addition to its technological capabilities, Flash also stands out from other players in the industry through other indicators.
For example, the brand prides itself on its affordability. Ordinary Americano in Flash Coffee costs $ 2.80 per cup, which gives contestants a chance for money.
David told the Vulcan Post that many customers are switching from other commercial coffee brands to Flash Coffee, because they are looking for a higher quality, yet affordable coffee option that they can enjoy every day.
Despite the favorable prices, it does not jeopardize the quality.
The menu of the chain is prepared by four internationally known champion baristas, and the brand also aims to provide customers with a coffee experience that they usually only get in a special cafe.
Furthermore, the pandemic has changed the way consumers fearfully order and consume coffee. Many now deliver coffee to them, and the concept of Flash coffee corresponds to the new norm.
Growing the coffee empire
Recently, Flash Coffee raised $ 15 million to fund Series A under the leadership of global technology investment company White Star Capital.
Other investors in the circle, which brought the company’s total capital to $ 20 million, were DX Ventures, backed by Hero Delivery, Global Founders Capital and Swiss venture capital company Conny & Co.
The team now plans to launch an additional 300 outlets by the end of 2021. It is already launching three new outlets per week, but plans to increase the number to 10 per week.
This is driven by a significant increase in coffee consumption per capita across the region. According to David, the total addressed Flash Coffee market is worth more than $ 80 billion.
As coffee education progresses in Asia, the demand for premium coffee and better quality options is also increasing rapidly. We will further meet this demand by making premium coffee more affordable to the fast-growing middle class who, due to its price, generally cannot afford great coffee.
David Brunier, co-founder and CEO, Flash Coffee
The vision of Flash Coffee is to democratize high-quality coffee and make it accessible to the growing Asian middle class.
To achieve this goal, the founders plan to build a technology power plant to build new brands across the region, state-of-the-art operational processes and a fully integrated value chain, including their own production facilities to further drive backward integration.
It also plans to establish its regional headquarters in Singapore, where they anticipate hiring over 90 new staff members by the end of 2021.
“We will further expand our key competencies of technology, operational excellence and brand building to be well equipped to outperform the food and food sector in Asia,” David said.
Credits for featured images: Flash coffee