5 Questions with Cassie Mak, Co-founder of Happy Owl

Happy Owl Co-founders Daniel Cheng Cassie Make


What is your startup?


Happy Owl is a subscription based wine and dine membership mobile app. Members can redeem one drink every day at any of our partner venues. We currently have more than 50 venues across nine districts. FInd the complete list of partner venues here.

At an unbeatable monthly subscription fee, our members are able to get their first drink for free at any partner bars. At restaurants, they can choose a drink within the menu options. The value proposition that we provide for our members is obvious.

We combine technology, innovation, and marketing to provide bars and restaurants with a platform to drive more traffic to their venues. They can get at a targeted demographic, at a very low marketing cost, too. This is a much more efficient way for bars and restaurants to upsell their offerings and bring in new customers to their venues: No other marketing tools out there can guarantee real customer traffic like we do.

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Happy Owl One Drink a Day iPone Android App


How did you come up with this idea?


Daniel, Gabriel and I met at Jaarvis Labs, a venture builder in Hong Kong, where the idea of Happy Owl was born. Many of our friends and businesses that we worked with are restaurateurs and the F&B industry is one of the most competitive markets in Hong Kong. Venues are always looking for new and creative ways to promote themselves.

We wanted to combine technology and marketing together. We call what the app does “actionable marketing”. Unlike most advertising or marketing campaigns, our goal is to deliver real customers to the door, instead of just unquantifiable exposure.


Who are you targeting and how big is the market in HK/ Asia?


Think about how many people flood to Lan Kwai Fong (LKF), Hong Kong’s most iconic drinking spot, every day. There are a tremendous amount of expats, young professionals, and wine-and-dine enthusiasts who love to catch up for a drink after work. Maybe they’re just enjoying some fun with their friends on a Friday or Saturday night. These are our target customers.

There are so many interesting high-quality bars with very unique offerings, like exotic shisha, dessert cocktails, drinking games, or gourmet bar food, being opened in areas that require a little help to be discovered. For example, 75% of the venues on Happy Owl are located outside the center of the Central bar zone, many in up-and-coming areas like Kennedy Town and the revived area of Wan Chai. And we’ve so far only covered a fraction of them.


happy owl drinks bar partners Hong Kong


What are your future plans for your startup?


Expanding our partner network to bring our members more selections of bars and more unique offerings is certainly our primary focus. We had a great start, but that was only the first step toward covering all of the interesting venues in Hong Kong.

What’s also new is our just-launched Owl Magazine. It complements our Happy Owl app to feature our new offerings and the freshest news from the wine-and-dine scene, straight to our foodie community.

At the same time, we also recognize the need to make the user experience as seamless as possible for both members and bar operators. After all, the food and beverage industry is not the most tech-savvy: Providing a frictionless experience can make or break the adoption.

We do have plans to expand to other metropolitan cities that share similar characteristics as Hong Kong in the near future, such as Singapore, Tokyo, Taiwan, Bangkok. We hope to bring the same amazing experience to people who love wine-and-dine in those cities, and help the good venues grow their businesses the same way we help their counterparts in Hong Kong.


1 Benefit and 1 Challenge in the HK startup scene?


The biggest benefit of being a F&B startup in Hong Kong is that our city loves to eat and drink, and has a very sophisticated palate. That’s how the city’s earned the reputation of being a food paradise. In general, customers here are really hungry for quality venues, trustworthy information, and of course, good deals. On the other hand, venues have been struggling with finding effective marketing channels to promote themselves. Food tech is only starting to pick up in Hong Kong and still has a lot of room for development, which makes Hong Kong a great place to launch Happy Owl.

One of the biggest pain points shared by startups here is the severe talent shortage. It’s more than just hiring talented developers. Even when it comes to skills like social media, or sales, marketing, for example, many jobseekers are not equipped with the skill set or entrepreneurial mentality that are essential for startups.



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