Farmers' market at your doorstep

Founded last year, Passion Delivery wants to bring premium quality produce to your home

Ian Soo, founder of Passion Delivery.

There's a freezer inside Ian Soo's cosy living room, right next to his couch and TV. During our recent meeting, he rummaged through the contents a few times, revealing numerous packages of frozen premium meat inside.

"This is one of our best-sellers," said the British-Chinese expat proudly, while clutching a pack of dry-aged beef in his hands.

Soo's wife was in a nearby room, working through their online orders. His brother was also helping out. It's nothing short of a family affair here at Passion Delivery.

Operating from Soo's home in the Sukhumvit area, Passion Delivery -- cofounded by Soo and his wife last year -- delivers artisan products and ingredients to Bangkok doorsteps. Customers can order steaks, cheese, jam and 500 other products from around 50 vendors through PassionDelivery.com. They only need to make a single payment and items from various vendors will be delivered to their home in one go -- arriving fresh inside a cooling box on the back of a motorcycle within 48 hours.

The business started almost by accident, said Soo. His family was just looking into solving a problem that they encountered in their daily lives.

Soo and his family -- his wife Sara and their two children -- are fond of food. They are regulars at farmers' markets around Bangkok, always looking for artisan products they can't find in supermarkets. The problem is that the markets aren't on all that often and sometimes other engagements prevent them from attending and bad traffic also puts the family off from leaving their home.

Soo therefore decided to head online to find a solution, but couldn't find a website where he could order everything he wanted.

"If we have this problem, then others might have it, too," he reasoned. "Then we thought we might as well just start something ourselves."

That idea eventually culminated into Passion Delivery--the service designed as a simple and convenient solution for urbanites to still be able to receive quality food amid a hectic lifestyle.

Products include Sloane's sausages and cheese, Conkey's fresh bread and the Accidental Butcher's premium lamb and beef. Many items on offer are imported, but most are made in Thailand from imported ingredients.

No green goods are currently available, however, as they are too bulky and it would be impractical to deliver fruits and vegetables in their current transportation method as they could be easily damaged.

While most of their customers were expats in the beginning, as the business expanded, Passion Delivery continued to gain more and more Thai food lovers.

"You could find some of the products we offer in Thai supermarkets, but not many. The only other ways you can get them is by locating each individual supplier on Facebook. Most of them don't have a website. You also have to consider a minimum order and delivery charges. Imagine going through that process with five suppliers just to get everything you want."

Despite the type of service he's offering, Soo said he's not a middleman.

"We're more like the online farmers' market. We put everything together in one place," he said. "People are into online shopping and home delivery now. They are used to ordering everything without having to go out."

Quality is the key in this business, and Soo and his small team have been strict with product selection. The staff tries each product two to three times before putting it on their website to ensure consistency. The team only accepts around 25% of vendors that they have been in contact with.

"We're not the cheapest," said Soo, "If you want to offer good quality, you can't compete with the cheapest end of the market." Delivery charges start at 90 baht with no minimum order.

Soo has been living in Thailand for 12 years. He started off as an English teacher and after working on a few businesses around town, he found that separating work and personal life can be quite a challenge. As Passion Delivery is based right in Soo's home, business life and family life tend to roll into one.

On the small lawn outside his yellow house is a mini playground for his two children. Inside, around five freezers of frozen goods and shelves filled with jam jars are scattered in different corners of the ground floor. Everything seems to fit and look just right, however, as it is arranged in style thanks to his wife, a qualified interior designer.

While the children go to school, the team prepares clients' orders. From late suppliers, to customers not showing up, there are problems to solve every day. When the kids arrive home in the afternoon, however, the house becomes filled with noise and laughter again.

"Setting up a business from home with two young kids is tough and, in an ideal world, family life and work should be separated," Soo said. "Very soon, we will be moving our office to much larger premises. This will make it easier to have a better work-life balance."

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