Preston Wong, 32, is the CEO and co-founder of “treatsure”, a pioneer startup in the emerging food waste and sustainability space in this region. He is also an adjunct faculty member at SMU, teaching sustainability law and policy. In this interview, he shares with us about the path less travelled and his interest in sustainability issues.Tell us more about what you do.
I am both a social entrepreneur and an academic. For most of my time, I manage treatsure, a homegrown mobile app startup that connects businesses with surplus or sustainable food with consumers. On the side, I do adjunct teaching at SMU in sustainability law and policy, an area of law that I enjoy a lot.
In case you are wondering what treatsure offers, our flagship buffet-in-a-box service allows you to take-away cooked food from five-star buffet lines around 30 to 60 min before they close to help tackle wastage at hotels, while our grocery service allows you to shop for surplus or sustainable products from suppliers that are nearing expiry, imperfect or overstocked.
When I witnessed my family clearing the refrigerator of expiring items back in 2016, I wondered to myself whether I could create an app to redistribute food like that. I then did more research and found out that the issue of food waste is a huge problem. It was as prevalent in businesses as with households.
With some help from my computer science friend and others, we took a step of faith to develop and launch this app in the market. Fast forward to today, seeing how we have collectively made progress on sustainability as a nation, I am very happy that we have played a role in fostering conversations and tangible actions.Have you faced any challenges so far, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is always about addressing peoples’ misconceptions and concerns towards surplus food and the novel concept of redistributing surplus food in exchange for value. It took us perseverance to get through rejections from early customers and merchants, and to continually share and build awareness both online and offline.If you could share one piece of advice with your fellow youth, what would it be?
Don’t let others’ opinions of you determine your self-worth or limit your progress. Believe that you have some potential that can be discovered and unlocked.What are your hopes or plans for the future? What do you want to see or perhaps do?
We hope treatsure will continue to come up with innovations for our space and be a leading player for surplus and sustainable food in this region. Hopefully one day it will be mainstream for people to consider surplus or sustainable food as their first choice in their lifestyle habits.