A Killa Idea: Chilli Crab Home-Based Business Amid Pandemic
Craving some good ol' chilli crab but don't want to burn a hole in your pocket? Then listen up folks, there's a new kid, or rather, krab on the block that you need to know about stat.
Killa Krab is a home-based business started by childhood friends Danial Azroy and Hasyim "Syimmy" Hasbullah, both aged 32, who are out to challenge the idea that chilli crab is expensive and can only be enjoyed in big portions. The crabs are freshly prepared with an authentic sauce that is distinctively sweet and only mildly spicy.
Danial and Syimmy - an air steward and a wedding planner, respectively - were badly affected by the pandemic. But where there's chaos, there's always opportunity. The unusual circumstances led them to dream up ideas for their own small business.
We talk to Syimmy about updating a classic Singaporean recipe for the millennial crowd, and Killa Krab's aim to make chilli crabs sedap and also #aesthetic.
How did the pandemic affect your jobs and why did you decide on selling chilli crabs as a home-based business?
So, Danial was a cabin crew for Finnair. He had been flying for more than 10 years with various airlines. I was a wedding planner for RH Bridal for close to 7 years. When the pandemic hit, the airline industry was not spared. Danial did his final flight during Phase 2 of Singapore's reopening. He then decided to take on a job as a safe distancing ambassador.
The wedding industry was also hit badly. The number of bookings dropped drastically, and venues were closed. Customers resorted to cancelling or pushing their dates back. Business was greatly affected. In the meantime, I was able to get a job as an operation executive running dorms.
The Killa Krab recipe is passed down from Danial’s mum. She’s a great cook who places emphasis on Chinese cuisine but makes it halal.
We wanted to change the (traditional chilli crab) narrative but still have the authentic chilli crab taste, which is sweet and only mildly spicy, and make it more affordable, halal and something even an individual could enjoy. Also, we wanted to market it with a youthful, playful tone - a far cry from your traditional seafood restaurant.
Chilli crabs are traditionally expensive and there is a premium on quality. How did you manage to cut costs to make it affordable without sacrificing the quality of taste?
We managed to source for a supplier who is able to give us a good rate after a good negotiation. Of course, our profit margin probably isn’t as high as more notable chilli crab chains, but we are fine with it. Our crabs are bought fresh the day of serving, to ensure quality and taste.
Ok let's get down to business. Tell us about the menu and how you came up with it.
We’ve decided on making our menu simple: The Gloria, The Manny, and The Dunphys. It’s a cheeky play on the famous TV show “Modern Family”.
The Gloria ($25) comes with two pieces of soft shell crab, fried to perfection. It also comes with our signature Killa Krab sauce and our Killa buns. The Gloria came about because we wanted something different when presenting a chilli crab dish. You can dip the buns in the sauce, while munching on the softshell crabs at the sides.
The Manny ($25) is our take on an authentic chilli crab dish that can be enjoyed for 1 pax. It is our mud crab doused in our signature Killa Krab sauce along with our Killa buns. We’ve been known to be a little generous, because customers are telling us they are able to feed two mouths with this.
The Dunphys ($75) is for four pax. It comes with three mud crabs doused in our signature Killa Krab sauce, two pieces of soft shell crab and a set of Killa buns. It's everything off our menu!
We also sell our signature Killa sauce separately in a 12 oz tub ($15).
What are some of the challenges of running a home-based business. Any unexpected joys?
The first challenge is gaining credibility, building the brand and growing our audience in a vast home-based business market. Secondly, it would be the passing remarks on our choice of food to sell - changing the notion that crabs are not for the masses but can also be an acquired taste, for example.
Being a duo has made things easier. It also helps that we are both driven individuals. Danial does the cooking and handling of quality while I do the marketing, design and business aspect of Killa Krab.
The speed at which we're gaining recognition is an unexpected joy! Friends, family and customers have been encouraging.
There's definitely a cool aesthetic to how Killa Krab is presented. What is the vision that you're going for in terms of presentation?
We want it to be a full experience for whoever orders from Killa Krab - from seeing our visuals on the internet, to receiving the packaging, then the taste. In terms of presentation, we would love to improve on our packaging in phases.
We would like to incorporate better visuals via videos and photos through our social media feed, which means more a creative approach as opposed to just a flat-lay photo of our food.
What advice would you give others who have also been affected by the pandemic or those who are looking to start their own home-based business?
There’s a saying, “Morning will come, it has no choice”. We have to be adaptable, we have to move forward. We have to lift others along the way too.
To those who are thinking of starting a home-based business, we would say, execution is prominent. You don’t need to plan till it is 100%. Just ensure you get the plan in motion. There is no one way to go about doing it, but do your research. See what works, what kind of aesthetic direction you want to go in, and have a network of people ready to do your deliveries!
Orders can be placed via Killa Krab's form at linktr.ee/killakrabsg