Another kind of start-up has staff to do your wet market shopping for you
Hong Kong pair Jessica Lam, a Columbia graduate and start-up veteran, and Hinz Pak set up company that helps people too busy or too far from markets to buy their famously fresh and cheap produce themselves
For those who dread visiting Hong Kong’s crowded and clammy wet markets but still want to buy cheap and fresh produce, new start-up Jou Sun is the answer. The outfit handles the shopping for its customers through website jousun.com.
Launched in May 2015 by Columbia University business graduate Jessica Lam Sai-man and her partner Hinz Pak Yu-hin, Jou Sun (which means good morning in Cantonese) matches grocery customers with owners of stalls selling fresh pork and vegetables, and with grocery wholesalers.
With four full-time staff including the two co-founders, Jou Sun employs more than 20 part-time workers including housewives, retirees, motorcyclists and van drivers.
Lam, whose last start-up was butlur.com, which helps people buy gifts for their loved ones, says their customers include both housewives and busy full-time workers.
“Markets are usually closed after workers get off work. Mothers are worried that their domestic helpers don’t know how to distinguish between Chinese pork and local pork, which is free of chemicals. Some are customers living on The Peak for whom the wet market is too far away.”
More than 2,000 items from over 20 neighbourhood businesses and wholesalers can be bought through Jou Sun’s website.
When a customer places an order, staff will divide the shopping list up and send part-time workers – housewives and retirees, who work for HK$50 per hour – to different market stalls to fulfil the order.
The produce is packed in Jou Sun’s office in Wan Chai, then delivered.
Jou Sun currently operates on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. Lam says: “Some vendors sell the produce to us at a discount. But generally, customers won’t find our stuff cheaper than the price at markets. Our selling point is convenience, as the customers don’t have to make trips to the markets themselves.”