Nham24: Food at the touch of a button

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The turning point was the tech revolution that Cambodia has experienced in recent years. Internet speeds have massively improved and smartphones are now ubiquitous. Photo supplied

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.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
While competition has increased, Borima says Nham24 stands out from the crowd because it is always improving and developing new categories. Hean Rangsey

“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.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

“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.