Startup makes cooking gas orders a snap

Startup makes cooking gas orders a snap

Mr Tewit and Ms Poranee demonstrate the channel. The company plans to offer vendors picofinance loans for cooking gas purchases.
Mr Tewit and Ms Poranee demonstrate the channel. The company plans to offer vendors picofinance loans for cooking gas purchases.

FinGas, a Bangkok-based startup for ordering cooking gas cylinders online, wants to help street food vendors access loans through credit scoring based on how much gas they use.

"Thailand spends about US$2.5 billion on cooking gas a year, and 75% of Thai households use cooking gas. We are bringing in this technology to reduce the market's pain point," said Poranee Wattanachot, co-founder and chief executive of FinGas, which received funding from mobile operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) and a grant from the National Innovation Agency.

There are over 30,000 cooking gas dealers nationwide, but most operate using paper-based inventory records, relying on deliverymen's experience to pinpoint customer locations.

Users have to repeat the entire order process with each new order and specify the delivery point each time. They may have to wait a few days when vendors run out of inventory.

To solve the problem, the startup has launched the channel to let users make online orders. Customers can input location, gas cylinder size, brand and a nearby dealer just once. Payment can be made by cash on delivery or QR code.

Gas dealers can also manage sales and inventory through the platform.

FinGas earns revenue from transaction fees from gas buyers. The startup plans to provide users with fire accident insurance, which can earn a commission from insurance firms.

Ms Poranee said the service is available in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, with 300 cooking gas dealers participating. The company aims to attract 2,000 dealers a year.

Tewit Boriboonchaisiri, co-founder and chief marketing officer of FinGas, said restaurants could lose an opportunity if they run out of gas in the kitchen while dealers lack inventory.

There is a huge market of over 103,000 street food vendors countrywide, said Mr Tewit, who is also a restaurant owner. Many vendors cannot access loans because they have no proof of sales volume.

"The company is in discussions with international Internet of Things developers to connect gas monitoring systems to cooking gas cylinders," he said, adding that this could aid in the monitoring of cooking gas use in real time to ward off gas shortages.

Cooking gas use can be analysed to estimate food sales, Mr Tewit said.

"This data can be used as an alternative credit scoring method by financial institutions," he said. "Small food vendors will able to access loans and scale their business."

In the first phase of the loan service, credit of up to 50,000 baht could be extended to a vendor for gas purchases, in line with the picofinance concept. In the second phase, a credit line of 3-5 million baht can be provided for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Ms Poranee said FinGas is exploring business opportunities in Myanmar by working with companies supplying liquefied petroleum gas. The country recently joined other Asean countries in adopting LPG for cooking gas.

Last year the global LPG market reached $146 billion, with Asean representing $18 billion. Globally, 85% of households use LPG for cooking gas.

"We are not only looking at the Thai market, but also aiming to serve as an online cooking gas ordering platform across Asean for financial accessibility," Ms Poranee said.

The mobile app for the service is expected to launch soon.

On Sept 6, FinGas was among five startups that won best-performing startup honours in the final pitching stage of DTAC's accelerator programme.

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