Lifehacks – Free food from Tech start-ups

Let’s face it, this whole start-up revolution is great. Now, you can have shavers sent to your mailbox monthly, 1-hour groceries brought to your doorstep, cleaners at the tap of a button, a licensed masseur throwing down a deep-tissue rub in your apartment on-demand… the list goes on.

I shall ignore the philosophical debate of whether such “innovation” is worth the incessant pursuit, or if we humans are just running out of ways to be productive and have to resort to building the next “uber for anything”. Well, first-world-problems do exist, and if solving one helps you make a profit, I guess why not? I am personally guilty of attempting to solve one of them myself in Singapore, gladly.

Venture Capital money is awesome. It is BIG, it is FREE and as a potential customer you have the right to make full use of this money, if you know how to work the system. Whether it is a free ride with Uber or free ride with Lyft (or free rideS depending on how creative you are in gaming the system), 2-hr home cleanings at subsidised rates of less than $10 an hour, or a bunch of free food delivered to your doorstep.

Yes, free food.

I am a huge fan of the bunch of new start-ups seeking to solve a very specific problem in the market – folks who long to make their own meals, but cannot afford the time to pick out different recipes and go grocery shopping for the unique items. Enter these start-ups, with the common tag line of “helping you get more lazy” “helping you eat and live better”. Here’s how it works in a nutshell:

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 7.07.48 PM

Most of all, I am a huge fan because they feed me for free. Back to VC money… one way of acquiring customers in a very competitive market is to put the product in your customers hand at a reduced cost, or no cost at all. This is exactly where the following start-ups come into the picture. They want to give you free food and recipes, at least for the first order. Let the millions of VC dollars do the job, think about it as the cash-rich Wall-street type companies doing good, by subsidising your first experience with these products. Well, if you do it in a disciplined fashion, you are guaranteed a month’s worth of free groceries (1 week each for the 4 companies below) delivered to your doorstep. By disciplined I mean, be very disciplined. The critical thing to do is to turn off the deliveries for the subsequent weeks after your first order (they will be turned on automatically for sure), and cancel your subscription after receiving your first order. Cancelling a subscription is not easy, as there will never be a direct link for you to do that; most of the time, you will need to email customer support to cancel your subscription. Hey, for a month’s worth of free/subsidised groceries with cool recipes and “feel good” photos sent to your doorstep, why not?

Of course, after you have tried the product, don’t be lazy. Google recipes, create shopping lists, go to the grocery store and live like a normal human being. Do not be fooled by these beautiful high-dev perfectly positioned photos, you are not eating photos.

Plated

Plated

Blue Apron

Blue Apron

Green Chef

Green Chef

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh

Do you have more start-up hacks to share?

Is there McDonalds in Tajikistan?

The modern-day multi-national corporation is quite a fascinating behemoth. How did a lone McDonald restaurant that started in San Bernadino in 1948 grow to have a presence in almost 120 countries around the world today? The quality of the food is questionable, and the many horrible criticisms are the least bit flattering, but scaling to 120 countries is a pretty significant feat I must say. As I am about to get on a plane across the Atlantic, the first question that comes to mind is – is there McDonalds in Tajikistan?

Just kidding – that isn’t what I am most curious about at this point of time. But really, is there? I will soon find out.

McDonalds aside, what is Tajikistan really all about? In the past few months, I have held back all temptation to search “Tajikistan” on Google Images. For a country made up of more than 90% of mountains, it is highly likely that I will end up seeing an image of a mountain appear anyway. Who are the people? What do they eat? What are their dreams?

Almost a decade ago, I embarked on my first 8-week sojourn into Southeast Asia with my very first travel buddies Andy and Joses, and 10 years later I find myself getting ready for a solo sojourn into a very, very, VERY different part of the world. Travelling is a wonderful privilege, and one which I hold dearly to. This time round, it involves travelling with a Kiva workplan, and I am excited to see what kind of serendipitous situations I will find myself in! I was told that getting into the country at immigration involves some vague form of bribery – I will have to hone my negotiation skills for sure…

A year ago when Lysia and I moved to Austin, we very effectively packed everything we needed for our lives in one suitcase and a backpack each. This time round, I am reminded again of just how little we actually need in life – clothes, books and a big open mind to go experience the world around us.

Life zipped up again!

Life zipped up again!

 

This is it – I am off on my 30-hour long journey to a land of Tajikistan!

Lifehacking in Austin

Inspired by the various lifehack lists on Buzzfeed, I created a little blog on lifehacks back in Singapore which shares tips about savings and convenience opportunities specific to the city. Our relocation to Austin presented a great opportunity to put lifehacks into practice, and here are some from week one:

1. As-is section at IKEA

In lifehacksg#13 I talked about the “As-is” section at IKEA and how you could get great deals there at reduced prices. Here in Austin, we walked the talk when we found the As-is section at the IKEA in Round Rock and got our tables at about half off (they were display sets)!

2. Wine crates

I got this idea from my good friend Sung about how wine boxes can actually be used as beautiful display furniture. I picked up two from Steps and found a third (a 1960s 7-Up crate) from one of Austin’s oldest antique stores, and this is the display feature in our living room!

Photo 22-12-13 12 46 17 pmPhoto 22-12-13 12 47 31 pm

3. DIY lighting fixture

So we were looking around for a sizeable piece of lighting that could provide a warm-feel to the living room, but didn’t want to spend north of $30 for a piece of metal and some paper/textile material. At the Goodwill store, we stumbled upon an old laundry basket and decided to stick a lamp stand through it. Viola! At a cost of $9.

Photo 22-12-13 12 48 03 pm

4. Beer box table

We didn’t need anything fancy for the bedroom and were thinking of something along the lines of a simple table for misc. use. I took apart the secondary layer that came with the IKEA table, picked up 2 empty beer boxes from Steps and created a small table!

Photo 22-12-13 12 49 36 pm

5. Reusing packaging

It’s amazing how much stuff you could reuse if you don’t have a lot to begin with. We moved into an empty apartment and had, well, an empty apartment. We started to reuse all these packaging material that came with some of the things we bought.

Photo 22-12-13 12 56 07 pmPhoto 22-12-13 12 52 48 pm

So far the relocation has been great but I forgot how much work it actually involves! Getting stuff done in the US is generally quite easy, it’s just having to deal with a lot of different things in general ranging from apartment hunting, to figuring out furniture, to auto insurance, directions and groceries and…

… all the “work” aside, we’re excited to start exploring Austin! It’s just a beautiful sprawling place with various unique areas – downtown, UT area, hippie-East, posh-West lake hills, a lot more to figure out as we go along!

Merry Christmas everyone!