Shared kitchen, mobility services get 'sandbox approval'
South Korean startups dedicated to shared kitchen space and taxi-sharing mobility services such as WeCook and Banbantaxi, respectively, attained regulatory sandbox approval from the Ministry of Science and ICT on July 11.
For the next two years, tenants in WeCook -- mostly one-person restaurants -- can distribute cooked or processed foods to supermarkets, convenience stores, coffeehouses and restaurants. Previously, food made in the shared kitchen could only be sold directly to customers.
The same kitchen will soon be shared by multiple food and beverage business operators, which is currently banned under Korean law.
“In short, a self-employed entrepreneur can make, sell and distribute foods across Seoul without owning a foodmaking facility,” WeCook operator Simple Project Company said in a statement.
The ICT Ministry expected the initial cost of a foods and beverages startup to reduce to one-tenth. The same sandbox environment can be applied to at most 35 locations across the nation, and out of the whole, 15 across Seoul. Simple Project currently runs one location in central Seoul.
In the meantime, Banbantaxi, a service that allows up to two users to voluntarily share a taxi and split the fare, is expected to become full-fledged for two years as the sandbox environment can promise taxi drivers a higher income for each ride.
Under the sandbox setting, a taxi driver will be given a 6,000 won ($5.10) commission fee and take five-sixths of it, while the rest goes to Banbantaxi operator startup Kornatus. The income comes from two passengers going in the same direction for a single ride, who equally pay 3,000 won.
This incentivizes taxi drivers, since they are able to more than double the extra income than from the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s standard.
The new service will address the late-night taxi shortage, reduce users’ ride-hailing costs and increase taxi drivers’ income, the government said. Banbantaxi will become operational in late July in 12 district in Seoul, according to the Pangyo-based seed stage startup.
By Son Ji-hyoung (firstname.lastname@example.org)