Amid the pandemic, a food tech startup helped thousands of foodies and chefs to start digital ventures with less logistics friction

In Hong Kong, local chefs, Instagram-businesses, boutique restaurants and individuals with a passion for local food have been able to share culinary ideas and even collaborate to form e-businesses through a “B2B2C” platform powered by AI business tools.

Regardless of whether a “food creator” is a certified sous-chef or a retired housewife with 30 years of experience baking goodies for new year celebrations on a part-time basis, the desire to grow the passion into a scalable small business has always been strong in Hong Kong.

With a data-driven food-focused tech platform to help such food creators, the business side of food passion has been made easier. For example, the budding entrepreneurs can focus on producing great food while administrative headaches such as order management, cancellations, promotions, social media and customer engagement, delivery arrangements and payment collection can be automated or made less cumbersome by the platform, Calioo.

Hong Kong food creators selling beloved traditional snacks at one of Calioo’s events

The platform (whose Romanized name means “next-door” in Cantonese) was set up to help bridge businesses with other (potential) businesses so they can avail their products and services to the local community.

Since its launch in 2020 Calioo has onboarded more than 1,500 food creators, connecting the community with their shared love for food and food accessibility. Many of the food creators would have met with much greater startup hurdles during the pandemic if they did not have a turnkey platform to help with rapidly evolving digital trends driven by the global outbreak of the ‘novel’ coronavirus.

With the platform to help, fledgling food creators and established small (but undigitalized) businesses alike were linked up to form adventurous partnerships, share AI tools and data to formulate e-business plans, and also save on digital marketing efforts such as creating their business logos or promotional materials. According to Calioo founder Kenneth Liu, the platform seeks to make it frictionless for anyone to start, manage and scale their food businesses as easy as managing an Instagram account. The platform has also expanded operations to Singapore, which also supports a rich potpourri of culinary cultures.