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Startups urged to look beyond profit

SariSuki executives officially unveil Supah, a guaranteed 15-minute grocery delivery app, on June 22, at the Crowne Plaza Manila in Ortigas Center, Quezon City, from left are SariSuki Quick Commerce head Timothy Cu, board director and JG Summit president and chief executive officer Lance Gokongwei, founder and CEO Brian Cu, and chief commercial officer Bam Mejia.* Photo courtesy of SariSuki

Brian Cu, former country head of Grab Philippines and co-founder of Zalora, has urged startups to go beyond value and profit, and find how their ventures can contribute to the betterment of society.

Cu said establishing a startup just to be one of the billion-dollar earners is a “false cause”.

“I never set out to do a company, thinking you want to build a unicorn. I think those are the wrong motivation(s) for an entrepreneur,” he said at the official launch of Supah, a business division of Cu’s latest startup SariSuki.

Unicorns are startup companies whose value exceeds USD1 billion.

After founding his e-commerce startup SariSuki in May 2021, Cu started Supah last March.

While SariSuki adopts a community group buy model, Supah offers quick commerce by delivering groceries within 15 minutes.

Customers may order grocery items via Supah mobile app. These items are sourced from Supah’s “dark stores”, wherein only Supah riders can enter and pick items for customers’ grocery orders.

SariSuki chief commercial officer Bam Mejia told the Philippine News Agency that more than half of the products in the dark stores are sourced locally, especially vegetables from local farmers.

Mejia said that with farmers throwing their harvests due to oversupply and “very cheap” farmgate prices, the startup is partnering with local farmers wherein they can supply agriculture products to both SariSuki and Supah.

Supah has its central “dark warehouse” in Muntinlupa that delivers products to eight dark stores located in Metro Manila.

It aims to expand its dark stores slowly and grow outside the National Capital Region, like Cavite and Bulacan.

NEW MISSION

From transport and fashion retail, Cu said his focus now is helping local farmers and those who lost their jobs in the past two years.

“Now I want to do it in agriculture, in helping certain sectors, of individuals who happened to be unemployed or underemployed during the pandemic,” he said.

This mission has gotten some USD11-million funding support from both local and foreign sources, including magnate Lance Gokongwei, the president and chief executive officer of JG Summit, who also sits as a board director at SariSuki.

“Supah offers a great potential as it tries to address the consumers’ evolving needs in grocery shopping by finding the optimal balance among several critical factors like speed, assortment, value, and convenience. This innovative technology will help shape the future of grocery shopping in the country,” Gokongwei said.

Cu said he measures a startup’s success if it brings great impact to the improvement of the society and gives back good returns to the funders.

“I think when we do these things right and you focus on the mission, you may get your unicorn dream. If you don’t, as long as you return a good, you made a good return for your early believers and investor partners you can sleep well at night,” he added.*PNA

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