The space for online cheese dish companies has become competitive, presumably due to the low barrier to entry when it comes to sourcing ingredients and delivering products.
Recently, we wrote about one in KL started for serial entrepreneur to help your house master friends earn income. On the other hand, for this Kota Kinabalu business, Dolphin dishes, the turning point of its founders to enter this market came after the closure of its cafeteria two months after the first MCO.
“At the second MCO in September 2020, we had very little income and our bank accounts were really left with less than 3 digits,” said Dolly, who added that she had just given birth to her second child at the time.
With a growing family to feed, the husband and wife duo sold their cafe’s kitchen equipment. They managed to raise around 2,500 RM, which was then channeled to launch Dolfin Platters, along with an additional 1,000 RM to sell their home cooking to peers.
Sell food to put food on the table
The Dolly and Hanson cafe operated together before the pandemic was primarily a children’s cafe complemented by a play area inside.
Dolly was 2 months pregnant when the MCO first hit, and to give her coffee shop a try, they offered takeaway packages, delivery and food kit, even though it was in vain.
Unable to maintain operations, they decided to close the cafeteria. But with a family of 5 to feed (including Dolly’s mother and grandmother), Hanson began cooking at home to deliver food, hoping to earn some sort of income.
However, the business never rebounded, so they decided to take a different approach by selling a completely different product.
From a cafe to a cheesy business
Dolfin Platters was given the name Dolly and Hanson, who were nicknamed “Fintu” (hakka dialect) by their basketball team at school. Combining their names, they devised “Dolphin”, using a dolphin illustration in their logo.
Stumbling across photos of cheese dishes on Instagram was a light bulb moment for Dolly. She taught them to Hanson and they tried to make cheese dishes for dinner with family and friends.
The cheese dishes were relatively new to Sabah at the time, according to Dolly, which was an opportune time for them to enter the market.
Although the couple enjoyed consuming cheese, they didn’t know too much about its pairings, textures, and types.
“We sold our first box to a friend’s sister for 88 RM, but the response was not good because we didn’t get the right packaging and decoration,” Dolly recalled. This was his drive to start looking for nicer packaging and learning more about cheeses.
“We also learned how to have the best combination of soft, semi-hard and hard cheeses, so that our customers can try different types of cheeses in a single dish,” he stated.
After starting selling to family and friends, they gradually found more customers who were ordering party products. Customers also requested more variety, so the brand expanded to also offer pastry, made by the former coffee pastry supplier.
Beginning to thrive in confinement
As the MCO spread again for the third and fourth time — at least in Sabah — Dolfin Platters began to see higher demands from customers who were deprived of delicacies that were less accessible at home.
After expanding to offer pastry, Dolfin Platters soon launched a tea set, which Dolly reported is now a best-selling item.
However, cheese dishes remain their best sellers due to their affordability from RM68 (1 pax serving) to RM298 (which includes wine). Dolfin Platters also offers premium dishes containing caviar and truffle cheeses costing over 500 RM.
These prices are actually in line with the expected market range for cheese dishes manufactured and sold by KL companies. But when it comes to Sabahan’s offerings, there seem to be limited options for cheese dishes online. nomsgrazer it was one of the only names for which I was able to find prices (by contacting me), and its cost between RM65 and RM550, which is also within the market range.
Therefore, there would be a wide market share for Dolfin Platters to make a name for itself in the Sabahan cheese market. But Dolly doesn’t want to limit Dolfin Platters to just that; look at the gift industry in general.
There is a larger market to address
“Because we are not only competing with dish companies but also bakery companies as a whole, we have a lot of competition in the gift industry within Sabah, ”Dolly explained, adding that most Sabah bakers also offer delivery services, especially during the MCO.
With malls and shops able to re-accommodate pedestrian traffic, he also highlighted other gift businesses such as fragrances, cosmetics, chocolates and more. they are also considered competition.
“Meanwhile, for high-quality tea games, we have to compete with restaurants and cafes that also offer the same,” Dolly noted.
For Dolfin Platters to stand out and stand out, the team will focus its efforts on the quality of its products and services. This we hope will encourage customers to come back.
In addition, Dolfin Platters devotes 70% of its marketing efforts to keeping its existing customers satisfied, while the remaining 30% is spent on acquiring new customers.
It probably worked in favor of Dolfin Platters, as Dolly shared that the brand currently has a 45% customer return rate.
Attention to VVIPs
Since its launch in October 2020, the founders ’proudest success was when they sold 500 dishes in December 2020 for Christmas. At the time, their dishes were even stocked by Lintas Supermarket, a notable grocery store brand in KK, to sell them as a gift instantly.
A year ago, they sold about 2,000 plates of cheese. Dolfin Platters was also hired by Sabahan Jesselton Group developer companies to make a grazing table for their office event and VTS Group to cater to their VVIPs.
“That’s when we had the opportunity to grow in the high-end gift and food business,” Dolly said.
In the future, the founders hope to open a physical store to make their dream of bringing their online business to the brick and mortar a reality. The store would allow customers to search for various gifts and taste the cheeses available before making a purchase.
We already have a brand partner in Tawau, Sabah, but we would certainly also like to expand to more cities in Sabah and also in Sarawak because there are a lot of people from other cities and states who order our products. We just had to reject them because we can’t deliver them.
Dolly, co-founder of Dolfin Platters
- You can find more information about Dolfin Platters here.
- You can read more about the Malaysian food and beverage brands we’ve covered here.
Featured Image Credit: Dolfin Platters Team