Nham24: Food at the touch of a button in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - Nham24 has become the largest food delivery company in Cambodia, giving customers the option to choose meals and food items from 2,000 restaurants and supermarkets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Four years after its launch, Nham24 has become the largest food
delivery company in the Kingdom, giving customers the option to choose
meals and food items from 2,000 restaurants and supermarkets in Phnom
Penh and Siem Reap.

Chann Borima, the co-founder and CEO of the startup, believes the
company will continue to grow as more Cambodians are lured by the
convenience of ordering food from home with a few taps on a smartphone.

Sitting at his unpretentious office in Phnom Penh’s Chaktomuk
commune, Borima, a sales and marketing graduate with a master’s degree
in financial management, tells The Post that he is grateful to have been
able to devote his life to what he is passionate about.

“My skills are mostly in sales and marketing, and Nham24 is my first
venture,” he says, adding that before he launched the startup he had
worked for over 20 years for big international companies in the tobacco,
beverage, and telecom sectors.

Given how immature the technology ecosystem was in the Kingdom
at the time, the deck was stacked against him when he launched the app.

“About six years ago, I started noticing that the market was ripe for
e-commerce as the number of smartphone users skyrocketed. Smartphone
and internet users have increased exponentially. Some people even have
two or three devices. When I realised this, I knew it was time to start
Nham24.”

Borima chose the food and beverage sector because it was lower risk
and demand for food delivery services in the Kingdom was rising.

It took his team about half a year, he says, to develop the online meal ordering platform.

“When we started down this path, we had little manpower and tech
knowledge. We didn’t know much about programming and Cambodia had few
professionals in the field,” he says.

But Borima could not wait for the country to develop the necessary
human capital. Instead, he outsourced the technical aspects of building
the platform and the app to foreign professionals.

“We started Nham24 in August 2015, but it wasn’t ready until February
2016. When we launched it, the concept was still new for everyone
here,” he says.

They were off to a disappointing start. Borima says he felt
discouraged by the low volume of orders in the beginning and by
restaurateurs’ reluctance to join the Nham24 network.

“People didn’t know how to use the app and it took them some time to
learn. Even harder was finding delivery people as few wanted to work for
a newly launched and small company,” he recalls.

In those early days, the app was very “basic,” he confesses. The number of functions was minimal.

“Sometimes, customers would bypass the whole app thing and just call
us directly, and then we would have to call the restaurant to place the
order. Everything was done manually, unlike today, when we have
automated the whole system,” he says.

The turning point was the tech revolution that Cambodia, and the
world, has experience in recent years. Internet speeds have massively
improved, and smartphones are now ubiquitous.

“Clients now order through the app, and it goes straight to the
restaurant. The system then automatically searches for the nearest
delivery person to send the order information.

“Everything customers want to eat is at their fingertips. They just tap the screen to place an order and wait 30 to 45 minutes.”

While competition has increased, Borima says Nham24 stands out from
the crowd because it is always improving and developing new categories.

“Now we have around 2,000 partner restaurants. Customers can find
many things here, but we’re always adding new categories and expanding
our product offerings,” he says.

Borima also points out that with the latest updates, Nham24 is no longer merely a meal delivery app.

“Customers can now order groceries, household goods and spices from
Thai Huot and Angkor supermarket. They can even order flowers,” he says.

Despite the number in the name, Nham24 only operates from 7am to 10pm
due to restaurants’ opening hours and the fact that demand for the
service is low past midnight.

“Still, we eventually want to operate 24 hours a day,” he says.

Nham24’s prices are the same as what you would find in the actual
restaurant. However, the startup charges a delivery fee based on the
location of the restaurant and the customer. Generally, it’s about a
dollar.

“There is also a small fee charged to the restaurants that use our
service. We also generate income from ads in our platform,” he says.

The app’s growth has been spectacular. In 2017, the startup had 20
delivery people and 220 partner restaurants. Now, there are more than
350 employees making deliveries and about 2,000 restaurants in their
network.

Borima attributes the success of his company to a growing tech-savvy middle class and the attractive marketing of restaurants.

“The demand is there, but we need to make sure that customers know they can order from us,” he says.

Borima has ambitious plans for the future.

“We want to build a super app where everything can be found –
clothing, makeup, taxi rides, etc. Taxi drivers could partner up with us
to carry meals.

“We’ll keep developing and upgrading the app. After Phnom Penh and
Siem Reap, we’ll expand to Battambang, Kampong Cham and Kampot. We’ll
continue to strengthen our service locally and look for partners in
other countries,” he says.

Nham24 is located at No 54, Street 240, Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh
district, Phnom Penh. For more information, call 015 642 624.

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