KopiPass app lets coffee fans enjoy hipster brews for less in Singapore

KopiPass aims to be ‘Singapore’s first national cafe hopping trail’. — Handout via TODAY
KopiPass aims to be ‘Singapore’s first national cafe hopping trail’. — Handout via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Aug 10 — A new app, KopiPass, due to launch in September will take users on “Singapore’s first national cafe-hopping trail” and offer heavily discounted drinks. The firm behind the app raised funds on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and reached its goal of S$8,000 (RM25,192) within hours of launching the campaign.

The homegrown company, which goes by the same name, conceptualised a pass that would help “promote the cafe-hopping culture to the masses in Singapore in an affordable and accessible manner”.

For S$60, the pass will allow users to redeem one drink per cafe at over 60 establishments island-wide, as long as the chosen drink costs less than S$6 and it is not a takeaway order. Users will also have a year to redeem their drinks.

The idea came to the company’s co-founder and marketing head Jason Su after he realised that many of his favourite cafes were closing down.

“We spoke to a cafe owner and realised it wasn’t because the food or drinks weren’t good enough. It was because it was hard to get customers through their doors with the proliferation of so many cafes,” said the 38-year-old self-professed cafe-hopping enthusiast.

Together with his co-founders Bob Lee, 37, and Jerry Ng, 28, they identified a win-win solution: A pass that would help customers reduce the cost of an otherwise pricey indulgence while helping cafes improve footfall and potentially increase sales.

The founders first tested the idea in September 2016 when they launched KopiPass as a physical card.

“The main idea was to drive people from cafe to cafe. It’s not a loyalty programme, as we are sure each cafe already has its own loyal customers. We want to drive new customers in — then it’s up to the cafe to figure out how to convert them into regular and paying customers,” said Su.

That first version enjoyed considerable success — about 3,000 people ordered the pass, and a total of 50,000 trips were made to the 30 cafes.

On August 1, the founders launched a Kickstarter campaign to turn their KopiPass into an iOS and Android app. Within three-and-a-half hours, they hit their target of S$8,000. They now have S$12,000 pledged towards the development of the app, which they plan to launch on Sept 29 in celebration of National Coffee Day.

The current list of partners includes cafes such as Tanuki Raw, Toby’s Estate, Tolido’s Espresso Nook, The Garden Slug and The Laneway Market. The cafes are selected based on their coffee, ambience and reviews.

The initiative has won praise from the cafe owners who participated in the first edition. Hafiz Hanifah, restaurant manager of Kaw Kaw SG, said the restaurant has welcomed a wider customer demographic since joining KopiPass, “which helped us spread our wings”. Owner of The Laneway Market Christopher Tan added: “We had quite a number of people visiting Laneway Market during the period. Some even (became) regulars.”

Pass users were similarly pleased with the offerings. Ken Tay, 43, who bought the pass last year, said he also plans to buy it this year. “If you go to 10 Starbucks cafes, they’re all the same. But if you go to 10 different establishments, you get 10 different experiences.” He did concede, however, that it could be tough getting to the cafes, which are scattered across the island, without a car. — TODAY

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