Weekend Interview

Travis Chia wants to take Alcohol Delivery overseas

Since 2012, the company has delivered 500,000 bottles of chilled alcohol to the doorsteps of thirsty individuals.

GOT a party and need some alcohol in a jiffy? Your best bet is to give Travis Chia, or more specifically, his company, Alcohol Delivery a call. Set up in 2012, the company promises to deliver alcohol within an hour, and more importantly, chilled, if necessary.

Mr Chia, 28, came up with the idea, when he himself had a party, but there was no alcohol within reach. "I thought there might be a gap in the market - when you need alcohol fast, without having to figure out where to buy or to leave home," he says.

Since it started, the company has delivered 500,000 bottles of chilled alcohol to the doorsteps of thirsty individuals.

Mr Chia runs the company together with his younger sister, Suzanne.

You started Alcohol Delivery as a pet project. When did you realise that this could be a profitable business?

It was something that I thought I could try out. I spent as little money as I could on starting it. I spent less than $1,000 on creating the website, and another $3,000 on inventory, all of which came out of my own pocket.

About three to four months later, orders were picking up and I decided it was worth investing all my time in this.

Our service is available from noon to 10.30pm. During the day, we get orders from corporate clients who may want to stock up their pantry or have an office party to cater for. After 5pm, most of our orders are to individuals. We do get quite a lot of repeat customers, especially among the expatriate crowd, some of whom order table wines from us, four times a week.

There are other players in the market, who also deliver alcohol. What makes Alcohol Delivery different?

We deliver our bottles within an hour, using our fleet of motorcycles and vans. The weather can sometimes be a challenge, but we make it a point to inform customers if their delivery will be late.

More importantly, some of our items, such as white wines, beer and champagnes are delivered chilled. We have a few industrial sized chillers in our warehouse to do the job. There's nothing more frustrating than getting your bottles and then to wait while they chill.

We also aim to be a one-stop shop for all things party related. We offer party packages, from ice cubes and snacks, to cups and mixers. We even have beer pong tables for sale.

We also offer cocktail packages, which come with ingredients, equipment, and cocktail-making video guides.

What are your future plans for the company?

Suzanne and I are working on software automation. Currently, orders have to be manually checked and then assigned to our riders and drivers. Hopefully, that can be done automatically in the near future. With automation, we can save on operating costs, which can be translated into more competitive prices for our customers.

Also, in the works, is an app to make it even easier for our customers to order alcohol, which should be ready before the end of the year.

Of course, we also want to expand overseas, and are in the midst of finding the right partners to work with. I think Alcohol Delivery would do well in countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, where alcohol consumption is high.

We currently have about 500 products in our inventory that range from kegs of beer, to premium bottles such as Remy Martin Louis XIII. I definitely want to increase our offerings.

You are running a successful company even before you turn 30. What advice do you have for other young people who may want to be their own boss?

When you are young, you have plenty of ideas, and think it is great to be doing many things at once.

Before I focused all my attention on running Alcohol Delivery full-time, I had an e-commerce business selling trendy consumer items on a blog shop. I also ran an IT company with Suzanne specialising in customised software for businesses.

I decided to give up the other two businesses because they were a distraction. My advice for others would be to just focus on one business. By investing all my time and attention into Alcohol Delivery, I can aim big, and be the market leader in on demand alcohol delivery service.

While it looks glamorous being your own boss, there are sacrifices to be made. I work from noon to 10.30pm, and my social life is out of the window. Weekends are usually great for catching up with friends, but they are also my busiest time.

During peak periods of the year, I sometimes end up doing the deliveries myself. It is a lot of hard work when you are running your own company, but it is satisfying to see that all the effort put in has not come to naught.

Of course, not everything will go according to plan, so being an entrepreneur does take a leap of faith.

What is your poison?

Funnily, I don't drink that much. Occasionally, I enjoy a single malt whisky. My favourite would be a dram of Monkey Shoulder, on the rocks.

Any cures for hangovers?

I'll be too drunk to be searching online for hangover cures, so I can't offer any. If I do get a hangover, I will most likely be sleeping it off.