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Type of site
Privately held company
Founded23 July 2015; 8 years ago (23 July 2015)
DissolvedJuly 2020 (2020-07)
Area servedSingapore, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Taipei, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Tokyo
OwnerHonestbee Pte. Ltd.
Created byJoel Sng, Isaac Tay, Jonathan Low
ServicesGrocery delivery, food delivery, laundry delivery, parcel delivery
Employees860 (2019) [1]

Honestbee (stylised as honestbee) was an online grocery and food delivery service as its core business, a concierge service, and also a parcel delivery service for its B2B clients.[2] The company provided personal shoppers that pick products for its clients.[3][4] Consumers utilized the company's mobile app or website to interface with the company, and the store pickers and retail stores also utilized the mobile app.[5][6] In Singapore, honestbee also provided laundry collection services.[4]


Honestbee was launched in Singapore on 23 July 2015[7] and after that time also launched in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangkok, Philippines and Japan.[2][5][8][9][10][11][12][13] The company was founded by Joel Sng, Isaac Tay, and Jonathan Low and had backing from venture capital companies in Asia and the United States.[14]

In 2018, honestbee launched an online and offline grocery store in Singapore called habitat, which aimed for "more human engagement" for shoppers;[15] habitat was described as their "crowning jewel". Co-founder Isaac Tay left the company in September 2018.[16]

Observers had speculated from early 2019 that honestbee was in a dire financial situation and was in talks with other companies such as Grab and Gojek over a potential acquisition.[17] The company stopped its food delivery service and suspended its laundry service in May 2019;[18] the company also began suspending or closing its overseas operations in April that year, with operations suspended in Thailand and the Philippines in April and Hong Kong, Japan and Indonesia in May.[19] CEO Joel Sng departed the company in May 2019; he was replaced by Brian Koo as interim CEO, who had said that he would be working with the executive team to conduct an in-depth review of the business and to "align their strategic interests across their various geographies and verticals".[20]

Koo would be replaced as CEO by Ong Lay Ann in July 2019, with Koo becoming chairman;[21] Koo would later resign in September 2019[22] but remained a key investor in the company. Co-founder and CTO Jonathan Low left the company in July 2019, being the last of the company's founders to depart.[23] The company was granted a four-month extension of their debt moratorium in September 2019.[24]

A US-based company, FLK Holdings, led by key investor Koo, invested in honestbee in January 2020 in an attempt to incorporate a private entity where honestbee's assets would be transferred;[25] this ultimately fell through. Due to reduced footfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, honestbee announced a temporary closure of habitat;[26] this closure would ultimately become permanent although honestbee never officially acknowledged this, although it was reported that they had considered doing so due to high overhead costs and were clearing out the premises by late-February 2020.[27]

By March 2020, the company had retrenched 80% of its workforce and was delaying employees' salaries and CPF contributions.[28] In April 2020, honestbee creditor Benjamin Lim applied to wind up the company. The company was subsequently issued a winding up order in July 2020 and dissolved shortly after; the site formerly occupied by habitat is currently used by RedMart as a fulfillment center for their deliveries.[29]



Partnering both supermarkets and specialty stores, customers were able to shop a range of grocery options. Brands such as FairPrice, Jones the Grocer, Tesco, and Emporium Shokuhin were available on their platform. The grocery business was available in the 8 countries in which honestbee operated.


honestbee launched their food delivery service in February 2017. First launched in Singapore, the service was then rolled out in Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Thailand. They were an exclusive partner for MOS Burger from May 2018 to 2019, when their food delivery service ceased.


Launched in September 2016, the honeybee laundry service was only available in Singapore. Customers were able to get their laundry picked up, cleaned, and delivered back in 2 days time. Their pickup and delivery time for laundry service was from 1pm to 10pm (GMT+8), every day. This service was suspended in May 2019 as part of a company restructuring.


Launched in late 2017, the Ticketing service was only available in Singapore. Customers were able to purchase tickets to WE Cinemas, direct from the app. It also served as an aggregator of movie timings across multiple cinema chains in Singapore. This service was "temporarily suspended" in 2018.


honestbee was operational in eight regions in Asia:

  • Singapore (ended July 2020)
  • Malaysia (ended July 2019)
  • Thailand (ended April 2019)
  • Indonesia (ended May 2019)
  • Japan (ended April 2019)
  • Philippines (ended April 2019)
  • Hong Kong (ended May 2019)
  • Taiwan (ended July 2019)


April fool's prank[edit]

In late March 2016, honestbee announced a partnership with "Explorer Joe Exotic Meats" (later revealed to be fictitious), which would allow customers to purchase meat from endangered animals including pandas and whales.[30][31] While the company eventually claimed its intention all along had been to "bring awareness" and stimulate conversation about the plight of endangered species, the company faced backlash from the public both before and after the revelation that the campaign was a hoax, with a number of customers saying they would boycott the service.[32]

Worker pay[edit]

In 2015, honestbee stated it was paying Singapore workers "up to SGD $14 (about $10) an hour;"[33] by May 2016, however, workers countered that the company had lowered the "basic rate" twice, from $7.50 to $6 and then $5, and that there were also issues with payroll being late or miscalculated.[34]

Breach of fiduciary duties[edit]

Honestbee CEO and co-founder Joel Sng was able to net millions of dollars in funding for the company. But rather than building the startup, he bought a house in Japan, rented apartments in various cities, and spent millions renovating physical offices—first revealed in 2019 by Tech in Asia.[35] In March 2020, Honestbee filed a lawsuit against Sng for an "alleged breach of fiduciary duties", including purchasing a private property using company funds and incorporating a shell company called PayNow that Honestbee subsequently bought over.[36]

Sng was declared bankrupt in May 2022.[37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Honestbee profile", Craft, retrieved 13 August 2019
  2. ^ a b Sim, Walter (20 July 2017). "Singapore grocery concierge service Honestbee buzzes towards 'global store' concept". The Straits Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  3. ^ Woodhouse, Alice (8 November 2016). "Honestbee brings fresh buzz to convenience shopping". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b Low, Aloysius (14 September 2016). "Asia-based grocery delivery startup Honestbee adds laundry services to its lineup". CNET. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b Roxas, Stephanie (24 June 2017). "SG-based mobile app grocery delivery service expands to PH". Newsbytes Philippines. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  6. ^ Iwamoto, Kentaro (4 September 2017). "Honestbee wants to help, not disrupt, Tokyo grocery stores- Nikkei Asian Review". The Nikkei. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  8. ^ "honestbee Delivers Groceries in an Hour". Foodie. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Honestbee's Joel Sng Sets Big Regional Goals for Grocery Delivery Startup". Forbes Asia. 24 February 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  10. ^ Leesa-Nguansuk, Suchit (25 April 2017). "Honestbee sweetens Thai operations budget". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Honestbee officially launches in Indonesia". 80 Quartier. 15 February 2017. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  12. ^ Kandasivam, Anushia (3 March 2017). "honestbee launches in Malaysia". Digital News Asia. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  13. ^ Tegos, Michael. "Honestbee launches its grocery delivery service in Thailand". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Online grocery startup Honestbee raises $15M from Silicon Valley to deliver the goods". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  15. ^ "honestbee launches a world's first 'NewGen Retail' concept: habitat by honestbee, a one of a kind tech-enabled, multi-sensory grocery and dining experience". PR Newswire. 16 October 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  16. ^ "After leaving Honestbee, entrepreneur Isaac Tay hopes to make a buzz in the comedy scene". TODAYonline.com. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  17. ^ "Grocery delivery startup Honestbee is running out of money and trying to sell – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. 26 April 2019. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Honestbee halts food delivery service in Singapore". TODAYonline. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  19. ^ Aw, Cheng Wei (30 April 2019). "Honestbee says suspending some overseas operations, cutting global headcount all part of ongoing review". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  20. ^ Choo, Yun Ting (30 September 2019). "Honestbee gets 4-month extension of debt moratorium; ex-employees receive first payment of owed salaries". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  21. ^ "Honestbee Sees Another Leadership Change: Ong Lay Ann Takes Over As New CEO". Vulcan Post. 26 July 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  22. ^ "Honestbee Chairman Brian Koo Resigns, Firm Still Owes Ex-Staff Almost $1M In Salary". Vulcan Post. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  23. ^ Choo, Yun Ting (29 July 2019). "Honestbee announces appointment of new CEO, departure of co-founder and CTO". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  24. ^ Choo, Yun Ting (30 September 2019). "Honestbee gets 4-month extension of debt moratorium; ex-employees receive first payment of owed salaries". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  25. ^ Choo, Yun Ting (30 January 2020). "Honestbee secures further backing from key investor Brian Koo, offers payment in cash and equity to creditors". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  26. ^ "Honestbee To Close Habitat Supermarket Until Feb 29, Will Continue Online Grocery Deliveries". Vulcan Post. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  27. ^ "honestbee clears out furniture from habitat; police called in". The Business Times Singapore. 2 March 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  28. ^ Choo, Yun Ting (10 March 2020). "Honestbee retrenches 80% of staff, delays payment of salaries and CPF contributions". The Straits Times. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  29. ^ "RedMart to occupy honestbee's former habitat site". The Business Times Singapore. 24 July 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  30. ^ Swerdloff, Alex (1 March 2016). "An Asian Grocer's April Fools' Joke About Panda Meat Seriously Backfired". Vice. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  31. ^ Balea, Judith (30 March 2016). "Honestbee's exotic meats sale: an April Fools' prank gone wrong?". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  32. ^ Ravikrishnan, Ashutosh (30 March 2016). "'Sale' of panda meat, koala sausages part of endangered animals awareness campaign: honestbee". Today. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  33. ^ Shu, Catherine (20 October 2015). "Singaporean On-Demand Grocery Startup Honestbee Gets $15M To Expand To Six New Asian Countries". TechCrunch. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  34. ^ Ho, Olivia (10 May 2016). "Freelancers for honestbee feeling the sting". The Straits Times. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
  35. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem". www.techinasia.com. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  36. ^ Lim, Janice (24 March 2020). "Honestbee taking legal action against ex-CEO, former director over alleged 'numerous irregularities'". Today.
  37. ^ "Former honestbee CEO declared bankrupt". The Business Times Singapore. 9 September 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2022.

External links[edit]