Pandemic curbs spark idea for sideline delivery business

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed Ms Rachel Tan to fulfil her entrepreneurial dreams.

Ms Tan, 34, who is in sales, registered her sideline company SendThinks, which delivers a box of snacks from different countries to customers' doorsteps, in April.

She said SendThinks' business model centres on people's desire to send care packages to their loved ones and to quench the wanderlust of those missing travel.

SendThinks was one of 3,800 businesses formed in April.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat told Parliament yesterday that, because of the pandemic, this number was lower than the April average from 2015 to last year of 5,500.

But for Ms Tan, the pandemic was the catalyst for the business, the idea for which had been brewing for some time. Her sister-in-law helps out at the start-up.

Said Ms Tan: "It was only during the Covid-19 circuit breaker that we were given the time, the courage and the push needed to put the idea into place."

One challenge is international shipping during pandemic times.

The wait for sea shipment can be months, said Ms Tan.

"We wanted our snack boxes to be packed and shipped out fast to our customers, so we have to fly our products in from overseas. This reduces our margins significantly, as courier fees are almost thrice the usual price in some instances.

"We are in the midst of launching a Singapore snack box in our next phase, to give overseas consumers a taste of Singapore's unique snacks and confectioneries," added Ms Tan.

She is hoping this business can be a backup plan for the long term. She and her sister-in-law are coming up with ideas to ensure the business is sustainable, even after Covid-19.

Associate Professor of Law Eugene Tan of the Singapore Management University said that entrepreneurs need to identify and plug gaps in the market in a sustainable way.

He added: "Entrepreneurs will have to be nimble in not applying norms, ideas and practices that may have worked well previously.

"The challenge is to also look beyond the pandemic - how to ensure that a business will remain viable and relevant and adaptable beyond the pandemic."