With empty dining rooms and cancellation of Ramadhan bazaars across the sultanate, restaurants and home-based businesses are depending on pickup and delivery orders more than ever.

New online delivery platform, Ta-pow! was launched to give the people a platform where they can connect with restaurants and order food right at their fingertips.

Founder of the platform Ryan Yusof in an interview with The Bruneian said that the decision to come up with the initiative was caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“We feel that people are getting out of their normal daily routine and not being able to dine in restaurants, making it hard for them to get the food that they really want,” he said.

“We are trying our best to accommodate everybody in the situation where we are trying to provide our customers easy access because going to the food bazaar is no longer an option,” he added.

In addition to that, the food and beverages online sales platform is also working together with Big BWN Project to help out home-based businesses to gain more visibility and traction.

Founder of Ta-pow! Ryan Yusof. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

With the onset of the pandemic, Ryan felt that the launch of Ta-Pow! can help contribute a useful service to the local community by allowing businesses such as small vendors to keep going.

For Noorhafizah Hj Rashid, the founder of Big BWN Project, she hopes that the platform can shed light on smaller, lesser-known businesses who rely on pop-up events to generate sales. 

Home-based businesses utilising the platform are charged a commission fee of 10 per cent per transaction while the full delivery fee is given to Ta-Pow!’s drivers as payment.

The delivery services will also allow drivers who are also known as the “Penapows” to have an additional source of income during the tough pandemic period, added Ryan.

Noorhafizah Hj Rashid, the founder of Big BWN Project. Image: Faza Suraj

Journey

Before discovering Ta-pow!, Ryan coaches basketball for a living but when the pandemic hit the country, his daily activities and income came to a halt. 

The suspension of his main business has drastically affected his income and that he has a lot of spare time in his hands. He then seized the opportunity to enter the food delivery game.

“In between now and then, I earned some income by doing independent deliveries which really helped me in shaping the business model for Ta-Pow!,” he said.

Founder of Ta-pow! Ryan Yusof. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Ryan is known for his positive attitude. He believes that a simple solution to everyday problems can have a larger impact. 

The idea to set up his own online delivery service came during his days working as an independent runner, where he saw the challenges faced by restaurants and home-based businesses in staying afloat during the pandemic.

The app and website

Ta-pow! mobile app is available for both iOS and Android, with orders also being placed via the website at https://www.ta-pow.com/

Ta-pow! was launched on May 1 and the mobile app has gained 3000 downloads in less than a week of its release.

Ta-pow! started hiring Penapow drivers in early April, and has since doubled its staff capacity to do deliveries, adding more than 30 drivers in its system.

In a day, they would receive about 70 orders per day.

The catchy name “Ta-pow”, also spelt as Tapau, is derived from the Chinese word “da bao” which means take away. 

How to use the app

The Ta-pow! website and app will first ask users to type in their location and address. The platform will then scan nearby restaurants or home-based businesses to find out which delivery slots are available.

Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Both versions provide comprehensive information and curated listings from attractive menu items to opening hours of the restaurants available, sort through location or categories using their search function for greater ease.

Like other delivery apps, users can order from the list of restaurants available; the restaurant would then prep the food and a Penapow driver can choose to pick it up. 

“Ta-Pow! was set up with a vision to socialise F&B delivery for all parties (customers, vendors and drivers), culminating in the tagline – Delivery made simple,” Ryan explained, promising a platform that is familiar and easy to use. 

Rather than reinventing the wheel, he added, the team looked at the offerings of existing solutions within the market and explored ways on how to deliver a good, feature packed and most importantly accessible solution.

The Ta-pow! application for easy purchase and order. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“We hoped to make delivery simple by allowing vendors to focus on their operations without the hassle of maintaining a delivery service,” said the founder.

The Penapows are also given the chance to benefit from Ta-pow!’s delivery management tools that allows them to be more efficient and take on more tasks daily, said Ryan.

What’s even cooler is that Ta-pow! has partnered with Big BWN Project for their popular Sahur event to deliver fresh sahur food at your doorsteps with just a touch of a button, offering its late-night audience food service from 9pm to 2am with the final order at 1am.

Businesses onboard Ta-pow!

Tori Karaage, one of the food items by Serenity by Berqat. Source: Ta-pow! website

Ta-pow! already has a number of local restaurants and home-based businesses signed up, including Serenity by Berqat , Fuel’d, Pan & Wok, Iskandar Curry House, Little Audrey’s, Swensens with many more in the pipeline.

Many home-based business are also available to choose from such as Kustom Kafe, Mixbros, Wings and Drummettes, Tampd Koffee, Uncle J’s Grill Homemade burgers, mocktails, barbecue skewers, burnt cheesecake, juicy chicken wings, among others.

However, the transition to delivery has been a learning curve for restaurant owner of Serenity by Berqat, Aliya Ameera Bahrein. 

. Mama’s Favourite, one of the food items by Serenity by Berqat. Source: Ta-pow! website

With no more than 10 walk-in customers a day, the restaurant now relies on food delivery platforms like Ta-pow to stay afloat after the COVID-19 outbreak struck.

“It’s definitely been a hard-hit for our business as we usually get a lot of dine-in and events at our restaurant,” said Aliya, who is also the chef and baker behind the 20-seater restaurant.

However, Serenity is adding new Ramadhan menu items to cater to the stay-home customers such as their All Star Platter, which features BBQ grilled wings, Pan-grilled Salmon, Sweet Potato Fries with their signature home-made sauces.

Peri-Peri Pasta, one of the food items by Kustom Kafe. Source: Ta-pow! website

For home-based business Kustom Kafe whose popular dishes include salted-egg soft-shell burger and pasta would normally get around 20 – 30 orders per day.

“Before (joining Ta-pow) it was quite difficult for us to look for trusted drivers or runners to deliver our food as some of the charges were inconsistent,” said founder Jazli Johan. “But, with Ta-pow! I didn’t have to worry since they gave the drivers a fixed amount.”

Responding to the large requests from its customers, Ta-pow! recently expanded its delivery services zone to the Tutong District.

CRAB-Bae, one of the food items by Kustom Kafe. Source: Ta-pow! website

The areas in Tutong includes Kg Sengkarai, Kg Panchor, Kg Penabai, Kg Penanjong, Kg Keriam, Kg Bukit Panggal, Kg Luangan Duduk, Kg Sinaut, Kg Sungai Kelugos and Kg Kupang.

Life as a Penapow

For Nabawi Hj Zainal, before working as a Penapow driver, Nabawi worked full-time in the transportation service, working 30-50 hours per week on his own time.

In a normal week, the 24-year old would transport people to and from the airport, but ever since the pandemic, his customers have slowed down for the foreseeable future. That was when he decided to apply as a Penapow to keep him afloat. 

One of the participating vendors with the Ta-pow! app. Tampd Coffee. Image:

“Since there are no tourists coming into the country, the majority of my income has been affected, that’s when I saw Ta-pow! as an opportunity to earn extra,” he said.

At an hour when there are a few cars on the road, Zul is focused and careful on delivering his first sahur delivery to his customer. 

When it comes to food, customers prefer their meals to be hot, fresh and served on time. 

One of the drivers of Ta-pow! seen taking deliveries from Tampd Coffee. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Although Zul is still working as a private sector employee, his part-time job delivering food for Ta-pow! has since been a source of income for him during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the challenges and uncertainties, both Nabawi and Zul said that they enjoy the benefits and flexible hours of the job. 

However, much of the satisfaction, they said, comes from the rewarding feeling that they are helping others through the tough time.

This article was first published on May 3, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 88

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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