Online baking course hits sweet spot

Online baking course hits sweet spot

Versatility is key to business longevity says RMIT alumnus and food media entrepreneur Loo Pei Wen who has launched her second start-up, online baking course, the School of Perfect Bakes.

Offering the culinary know-how to create such treats as pandan chiffon cake and strawberry shortcake, it’s the second food media enterprise for the RMIT Business (Marketing) graduate.

In 2016, she and co-founder, William Siow, developed the meal sharing app, Share Food Singapore, before pivoting the business to an online recipe sharing model of the same name. 

Singapore based Wen said building the food media enterprise had been a series of challenges and opportunities, none of which she’d imagined on leaving her secure corporate role.

Co-founders Pei wen (in red), and William Seow with Singapore celebreties, Dennis Chew and Gin Moh, surrounded by staff Pei wen (in red), William Seow with Singapore celebreties, Dennis Chew and Gin Moh, surrounded by staff

“I was 29 years old, and it was either I start now or never so I took that leap of faith and left my comfortable corporate job to put both feet into this business,” she said.

That first business was Share Food Singapore, a mobile application that allowed people to buy and sell home cooked food.  

“It was novel idea that no-one had done before and the story about home-cooked food is always so heart-warming,” Wen said.

After getting about 10,000 downloads in the first three months, the app ran into complications so they decided to pivot the business into food content media.

Drawing on skills learned during her Business degree at RMIT and corporate marketing career, Wen helped steer Share Food in a new direction.

“I chose RMIT because of the team work element, where 50% of the course involved working together on projects in groups,” she said.

“It provides a source of inspiration and challenges you to think outside the box.”

Share Food dish Popular Share Food recipe, Snow fungus chicken soup

Moving to an online platform, Share Food provided a perfect meeting point for food lovers wanting to share their recipes and home cooks looking for inspiration across Singapore, Malaysia, and as far as India, the US and Australia.

“We’re unique because we get home cooks to share their recipe with us and we make it into a recipe video so that fellow home cooks can learn from each other.”

It’s been a recipe for success, with Facebook recognising Share Food as the top content creator in Singapore, with their content reaching 2.3 million people per month, according to Wen.

Despite this, the coronavirus restrictions resulted in a dramatic drop in advertising revenue for Share Food, but the business was able to swiftly respond.

“We responded by creating a new set of content, where we teach people recipes they can cook using the dry food and canned food they’ve stock piled,” Wen said.

“After the first fatal cases, many Singaporeans rushed into supermarkets to stock up on dry food and canned food just in case we got locked down,” she explained.

Fruit tart School of Perfect Bakes recipe, fruit tart with apricot glaze

The business strategy paid off, attracting new advertising clients to cement its future.

“One thing I’ve learned from this is how to be versatile and to be able to change direction when required," Wen said.

Building on their experience and identifying a lack of detailed online baking instructions across the web, the pair re-invested their revenue to develop the subscription based, School of Perfect Bakes. 

“It’s a live baking course for cooking enthusiasts who want to improve their baking skills, particularly now when they are looking for ways to spend their time while isolating at home,” Wen explained.

“With classes all pre-recorded, baking enthusiasts can subscribe to watch classes and download recipes.”

Reflecting on the last few years, Wen said the biggest lesson she’d learned was "being able to pivot the business”, and “turning adversity into a business opportunity”, fulfilling her vision to create a platform celebrating Asian cuisine long into the future. 

 

Story by: Diana Robertson

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