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(From left): Team members Liyana Sulaiman, Farkhan Salleh, co-founders Elisha Ong, and Dixon Chan
The idea for Burpple was hatched in late-2010 in Silicon Valley, where Singaporean co-founders Elisha Ong and Dixon Chan were roommates. Ong was then the lead designer at mobile video-sharing services company Qik, while Chan was leading the ad operations at another startup, social media IT solutions provier Gigya.
Almost everyday, they experienced a challenging time deciding on what to eat. They could vaguely remember the food photos their friends shared on Facebook and Twitter, and very often ended up calling a particular friend and took her recommendation.
At that point, they thought there must be an effortless solution to remember and share food moments with friends, and at the same time get trusted opinions available anytime, everywhere.
In 2011, they returned to Singapore to continue developing the idea, which led to the creation of a social foodjournal. They aim for it to empower users to remember special dinner dates, share home-cooked creations, explore good features in places and organize their "food moments". Their third co-founder, Daniel Hum, a former software engineer from Microsoft, later joined the team.
Ong's former colleagues from Qik also came on board, kickstarting several social media creative projects. Among these was the "How to Order Kopi Like a Pro" infographic which went viral over the Internet early this year--featuring Singapore's coffee-drinking culture.
ZDNet Asia spoke with Ong to find out more about the company's projects.
What was the inspiration and aim behind the "Kopi" campaign?
Ong: While developing the Burpple iPhone app, we started making a splash into the social media and food community by launching several creative projects--one of which is "How to Order Kopi Like a Pro" infographic. This was the the brainchild of our communications designer Farkhan Salleh, who wanted to create something that could strike a chord with Singaporeans and foreigners alike--educating people on the different and somewhat confusing combinations of local coffee and making them into a useful, fun and cute infographic.
How much success has the project received, and how has it evolved?
Honestly, the campaign caught us by surprise. When we first released it on our blog, which only had a very small readership then, we saw a few hundred Likes in the first few days. When we started sharing it on Burpple's Facebook page, that was when we experienced first-hand the organic viral social network effects.
Over the next few weeks, we saw more than 20,000 interactions with people liking, sharing and commenting and over 2 million views of the infographic. That's an overwhelming 1 in 4 Singaporeans loving the Kopi infographic! It was also trending on popular Chinese microblogging site, Weibo, and made it to popular meme and humor site, 9GAG, almost nine months later and caused another online sensation.
It is just amazing is to see how a simple infographic like this could transcend geographic boundaries and time.
Burpple was also approached by the Singapore Tourism Board to use the poster in its promotional activities in Melbourne, Australia. It was displayed as a giant billboard poster to educate people on the types of local Singapore coffee.
We also launched a "Help Kopi Go Overseas" Web site, a social media campaign to promote Southeast Asian coffee and food culture to people around the world through new media communications. It included a humorous personalization of Kopi and his family, a video of Kopi aunties, and the infographic itself.
Following the success of its previous infographic, Burpple released a brand new one called "How to order Other Singaporean Drinks Like a Pro".
Perhaps one day we might evolve into a Burpple coffee or kopi chain...you never know!
What are some of the highlights since starting the company, and what have you learnt?
Honestly, we are humbled and have learnt so much since formally starting up the company seven months ago.
Besides the success of the Kopi infographic, many have also placed the Burpple iPhone app with some of the best of Silicon Valley, such as Instagram, Path and Pinterest. More recently, Burpple was also featured by Apple on 12 App Stores under the New and Noteworthy category and among the Top Lifestyle and Food and Drink apps.
We launched the Burpple iPhone app to the world while working out of a makeshift meeting room at the Plug-in@Blk 71 co-working space, managed by NUS Enterprise. Just last week, we are thankful to have moved into our own little space which will allow us to better grow the team and focus on bringing the best to our users and community.
What are you serving up next?
Having localized for China last month with a partnership with Sina Weibo, Burpple is looking at integrating more services such as Renren and Instagram. People can also look forward to using Burpple while making reservations, as well as many other exciting releases coming soon.
Burpple is currently growing rapidly in countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and the United States, and users have journaled food moments in over 100 countries and 2,000 cities.
Kopi infographic featuring different types of coffee orders in Singapore