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Wahyoo takes Indonesian street food eateries to the next level: Startup Stories

Wahyoo promotes cost efficiency and boosts warteg business development in Indonesia using technology.

Wahyoo's CEO Peter Shearer and warteg partner

Entrepreneur Peter Shearer started his career when he co-founded AR Group, a company that focused on augmented reality technology, in 2009. Then in 2016, when on-demand platforms like Gojek and Indonesia really took off in Indonesia, they inspired him to bring digital disruption to one particular sector: street-side eateries or wartegs.

Warteg is a casual and down-to-earth street food joint. You may find wartegs spread around near offices, campuses, construction sites, or residential areas in Jakarta, and other cities in Indonesia. A conventional warteg is usually simply furnished with one or two wooden benches. It offers an array of all-time favorite home cooked food at cheap prices in big portions to feed hungry workers, usually blue collars, during their break time.

Similar to grocery kiosks, the biggest problem of wartegs is that they don’t have proper operational and administration systems so they cannot track finances and make proper plans, hence their businesses become stagnant.

Wartegs have been around since forever, but they are not well-developed. I tried to validate the idea of digitizing wartegs by discussing with the owners on how they run their business daily and their hopes for the business,” Shearer told KrASIA in a recent interview.

He officially established Wahyoo in 2017.  The name Wahyoo comes from the Indonesian word “wahyu” which means “inspiration”. Shearer hopes his startup can become a source of inspiration and a channel of blessings for others.

Beginning with only 50 warteg partners, Wahyoo has since empowered more than 13,000 wartegs across Greater Jakarta.

“I believe that warteg is a part of Indonesian culture and it has great business potential with a huge market and high daily transactions. On average, one outlet can serve around 100 customers per day,” he continued.

Not just a place to eat, Shearer said that warteg could be an ideal advertising space for brands targeting the low-middle income market.

“There is a lot that we can do with warteg. Food has a long supply chain that we can support. For example, we’re working with startups like Sayur Box and Tani Hub to supply groceries, so we can ensure the good quality of food while supporting SMEs like farmers, vegetable vendors, and of course, warteg owners,” said Shearer.

Wahyoo supports warteg partners by providing them with a mobile app where they can purchase goods at competitive prices and have them delivered to their doorstep. They can also take part in various online and offline community events and register through the app. The app is also equipped with a help center feature so partners can ask for assistance when they encounter problems using the platform.

The startup also gives partners offline and online training and mentoring sessions through its Wahyoo Academy program, which aims to help partners manage business operations more professionally.

Peter Shearer, founder of Wahyoo. Photo courtesy of Wahyoo

The training consists of three modules, namely how to deliver the best customer service, how to prepare high-quality food, including creating a clean, neat kitchen and outlet so that diners can dine in comfortably, as well as how to manage their cash flow and bookkeeping so they can better manage their finances.

With these improvements, warteg partners are expected to attract more customers and increase their revenue.

In addition, they will also get further sources of income through advertisement placements. Wahyoo’s partners can also serve as sales and distribution channels for SMEs who want to market their products on warteg outlets, Shearer said.

According to Shearer, there is a unique method that is used by many warteg owners in running their business. “An owner takes turns in managing his outlet with his relatives or colleagues. For example, if I manage the outlet now, you will take it over after four months, and so on. It means that we need to train different owners repeatedly. This is a unique challenge that does not seem to exist in other sectors,” he said.

In addition, many outlets are owned by families who want to hand over the business to their children, but not every young person is willing to take the job as operating a warteg is complicated and is not seen as a cool profession by many. “By becoming our partner, they can manage the warteg operations more conveniently and young people are getting more enthusiastic as now they are part of the digital economy transformation.”

Wahyoo’s warteg outlet. Photo courtesy of Wahyoo

Wahyoo doesn’t charge any commission or fee to partners who want to join the platform. Shearer said that the company applies the profit-sharing system for advertising and brands placements, as well as through partnership with companies and institutions who use Wahyoo’s outlet partners for customer acquisition, activation, and so forth.

The startup secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding in July 2019 from Agaeti Ventures, Kinesys Group, and East Ventures. Shearer said the Wahyoo is currently fundraising for its Series A round that is expected to close by year-end.

In the near future, Shearer plans to add more initiatives to help warteg owners become responsible entrepreneurs. He was inspired by the United Nations’ sustainable development goals and wants to apply those principles to Wahyoo’s partners. “We are collaborating with a number of organizations to help minimize food waste by recycling cooking oil waste into biodiesel. We’re also discussing with a company that wants to provide wartegs with cassava plastic bags that are environment-friendly.”

Going forward, Wahyoo wants to have at least 50,000 partners by the end of 2020. Shearer said that they will be focusing on Greater Jakarta first before expanding into other cities in Java island.

“Demand is high in this sector, we even got a request to expand into other provinces outside Java island. However, we will focus on grooming our partners for now and encourage them to actively utilize platforms. And hopefully, one day, we can reach more cities and empower wartegs all over Indonesia,” Shearer said.

This article is part of KrASIA’s “Startup Stories” series, where the writers of KrASIA speak with founders of tech companies in Southeast Asia.