By Natalie Oh
Covid-19 has forced many businesses to go on hiatus or even dashed the dreams of prospective entrepreneurs, but not for Raydy NTU. The famous student-run prawn mee and bee hoon stall at Hall of Residence 13 insisted on keeping their doors open round the clock even in the midst of the pandemic.
Here’s how they continue keeping the dream alive.
Established in February 2020, Raydy Beehoon has become a household name as NTU’s first supper spot. Within the first few weeks of its opening, it already saw lines of hungry students queuing for its delicious economic beehoon.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 disrupted the store’s growing success and their doors were forced closed for months during the Circuit Breaker period. Although businesses gradually started to recover from Phase 2 onwards in June, many safety restrictions still hindered business owners.
Transitioning into a Food Truck Initiative
For Raydy NTU, the team was able to run its stall in the day selling prawn mee, but only until 11PM and no later than that. This curfew meant that Raydy Beehoon’s supper business would be severely disrupted. Its owners also did not have a proper kitchen to work in.
However, this did not stop Lee Ray Sheng and his team from seeking solutions to overcome this obstacle! After much brainstorming, the team came up with a brilliant idea – to convert the manual stall into a remote food truck that could deliver beehoon straight to different halls around NTU.
The food truck was launched officially on Sept 21. Since then, it has been well-received by students. Not only did the truck provide greater convenience since students could collect their beehoon packets at their hall’s doorstep, it also allowed the team to reach out to more customers from halls beyond just Hall 13.
However, there are disadvantages to running the business out of a truck. In our interview with Raydy’s team, Regine Leong, the publicity manager, shared that the most glaring problems were limited flexibility and the unpredictability of supply and demand.
“With a permanent stall and a functioning kitchen, we were able to estimate and observe when the food is running out and thus make new batches to meet the increasing demand,” she said.
However, with a truck, everything had to be pre-made according to prior predictions. Sometimes, the food would sell out in the first few halls with nothing left for the remaining halls at the end of the route.
One way the team tackled this issue was to use polls and surveys on Telegram, where Raydy NTU could have a better sense of students’ feedback of the flavours, amount of food needed and even peak periods for the team to better prepare their food.
Chasing the Entrepreneurial Dream
From experimentation at the hall pantry to expanding into a fully fledged business, Raydy has its bulk of setbacks paired with successes. Evidently, not everything was smooth sailing – the team faced many trials and errors along the way. Yet, despite these setbacks, the Raydy team never detracted from their love for the supper culture and serving food to students, and has found viable solutions to keep this dream alive.
When asked about one thing that has kickstarted and motivated Raydy all these years, Regine proudly replied with “passion”.
“It is one thing to have an idea,” she responded, “but having the resilience and courage to follow your passion with the possibility of failure is another.”
Besides courage, Regine also advised young entrepreneurs that starting a business goes beyond taking a leap of faith. Here are some helpful tips that she has for aspiring students:
- Do your research thoroughly and be familiar with the market of your interest. Doing so allows you to set general expectations for your business outcomes and anticipate potential setbacks.
- It is important to set your priorities right before embarking on the journey. Understand which areas you want to prioritise and what you are willing to sacrifice your time and energy for.
- Be open-minded to new environments as they provide the most opportunities for growth! A good businessman or businesswoman is able to think flexibly and adapt to even the most unsettling situations.
Within barely a few months of its opening, Raydy NTU has met its greatest enemy – the pandemic –and yet emerged resilient against all odds. With Raydy NTU’s success, we hope to inspire up and coming entrepreneurs to pursue their wildest dreams and be fearless in confronting any situation that comes their way!