Brick-Mortar-Cloud Podcast
Season 1 Episode 4:
Scale up for HUAT

With Ah Hua Kelong

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From farming their own produce to putting it on a plate, our latest podcast episode features Kai, the founder of Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong, as he shares with our CEO Janson his success story!

Read the transcript here!

Mastering the Scaling Strategies Based on 10 Years Journey in Various F&B Businesses

From scaling strategies to digital marketing tactics, sustainability efforts, and community engagement, Kai, the founder of Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong talking about the key aspects of thriving in the F&B industry.

The answers presented here have been summarized and simplified to make them easier to understand. For a complete and detailed explanation, we highly recommend that you watch the entire video podcast or listen to the audio podcast.

Q: Welcome to the Brick Mortar Cloud podcast, where we delve into scaling stories in F&B and Retail. Today, we’re joined by Kai, the founder of Scale by Ah Kong and several other ventures. Kai, could you tell us about your journey in the F&B industry?

A: My journey in the F&B industry began around ten years ago when I collaborated with a local fish farmer. This initial experience sparked my interest, and since then, I’ve ventured into various F&B concepts, each with its unique story and vision. It’s been a journey of discovery, learning, and growth.

Q: Before diving into F&B, you were in the digital marketing world. How did your previous experience influence your approach to F&B?

A: My background in digital marketing has been invaluable in shaping my approach to F&B. It taught me the importance of leveraging technology to connect with consumers and optimize operations. This mindset has been instrumental, especially when we launched Ah Kong’s direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform, which aimed to bridge the gap between consumers and local produce. Digital marketing has given me insights into consumer behavior and trends, which I’ve applied to our F&B ventures to stay ahead in a competitive market.

Q: You’ve mentioned several F&B ventures like Scale and Pilot Kitchen. What was the vision behind each of these concepts?

A: Each venture was born out of a specific vision and purpose. Scale was established to showcase the potential of local produce in F&B, emphasizing sustainability and community engagement. Our goal was to create a platform where consumers could appreciate the quality and freshness of locally sourced ingredients while supporting our farmers and producers. Pilot Kitchen, on the other hand, was created as a platform for young chefs to experiment and innovate, fostering creativity and culinary excellence within the industry. We aimed to provide a supportive environment where aspiring chefs could hone their skills and showcase their talent to a wider audience.

Q: Recently, you’ve ventured into coffee shops with Slice by Ah Kong. What prompted this expansion, and how does it fit into your overall strategy?

A: The expansion into coffee shops with Slice by Ah Kong was driven by our desire to introduce a unique fish soup concept to a wider audience. We saw an opportunity to offer something different in the coffee shop scene, where traditional dishes like fish soup are less commonly found. It was a strategic move to test the market and gather feedback before potentially scaling up further. This expansion aligns with our overarching strategy of diversification and innovation within the F&B landscape. We’re always looking for new opportunities to grow and evolve our brand while staying true to our core values and principles.

Q: Your businesses seem to have a strong emphasis on both B2B and B2C operations. How do you balance these aspects within your overall strategy?

A: Balancing B2B and B2C operations is crucial for us. While B2C allows us to directly engage with consumers and build brand loyalty, B2B partnerships provide stability and scalability. We strive to maintain a harmonious balance between the two, ensuring steady growth while catering to the diverse needs of our customer base. Our B2B partnerships allow us to reach new markets and expand our distribution channels, while our B2C initiatives help us connect with consumers on a more personal level. It’s a delicate balance that requires careful planning and execution, but it’s essential for the long-term success of our business.

Q: When it comes to metrics and targets, what key performance indicators (KPIs) do you focus on, especially regarding labor and food costs?

A: Labor and food costs are among the key KPIs we closely monitor. While industry benchmarks suggest that food costs shouldn’t exceed 30%, we prioritize quality over arbitrary targets. Our focus is on delivering value to our customers while maintaining reasonable margins. Similarly, labor costs are carefully managed to ensure optimal service without compromising profitability. We track metrics like labor productivity, turnover rates, and scheduling efficiency to identify areas for improvement. It’s a continuous process of monitoring and adjustment to ensure that we’re operating efficiently and profitably.

Q: How has technology, such as digital tools and green initiatives like solar panels, contributed to your operations and sustainability efforts?

A: Technology has played a significant role in optimizing our operations and enhancing sustainability efforts. Digital tools have streamlined processes across various functions, from inventory management to customer engagement. Our e-commerce platform, for example, allows us to reach customers directly and collect valuable data on their preferences and purchasing behavior. Additionally, investments in green initiatives like solar panels have reduced our environmental footprint and operational costs, aligning with our commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility. By leveraging technology and embracing green initiatives, we’re able to operate more efficiently while minimizing our impact on the environment.

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to enter the F&B industry?

A: My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the F&B industry would be to embrace innovation, resilience, and continuous learning. This industry is dynamic and highly competitive, but it also offers endless opportunities for creativity and growth. Stay agile, listen to your customers, and remain committed to delivering exceptional experiences. Above all, don’t be afraid to take risks and learn from failures—they often pave the way for success in the long run. Surround yourself with a strong team and network of mentors who can support you on your journey. And most importantly, stay true to your passion and vision—success will follow if you’re dedicated to making a positive impact in the world of F&B.

, Kai from Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong Shares His Scaling Success Story in F&B Industry

Ah Hua Kelong is the first fish farm to be established in Singapore. Now, with restaurants such as Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong to serve local produced farmed by themselves, they have guaranteed freshness while incorporating creativity in their dishes.

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