Sugar Cover

Stephen Barling: Co-Founder of The Sugar App

Sugar, a new app available on mobiles, is not your ordinary app. It takes the concept of a curated city guide, combines it with social recommendations and gives you sweet incentive to explore.

“We want people to stop saying that Singapore is boring.” said Stephen Barling, the Co-Founder of Sugar. I managed to speak to him during the Sugar event held at Chevron House and get an idea of what the hype is all about and how different it is from the other apps.

Sugar Ambassadors

Sugar Ambassadors!

Sugar 1

People Downloading the app


Jeff: So what is so different from this app as compared to other apps?

Stephen:  Sugar is designed to make the task of finding and trying out great places in Singapore much easier. Where we are different is that the places are hand-picked and we give you an incentive to go and try them out (yes you can get a $1 Sushi roll on Sugar). Think of it like a mobile city guide but with benefits!

There are many incumbent methods that people use to find new places. You may spend time reading reviews, looking at ratings, going on Instagram, looking for deals or even just asking your friends. There are merits to all of these but Sugar changes it up a little by removing the effort, making it much more relevant by using your location and including a ‘gamified’ element that allows you to get your friends involved. I think people realise it’s a very unique app after giving it a try.

Jeff: That nice! But can I search for the place that I want to try out?

Stephen: So you spotted another difference with Sugar! We do not have a search feature. This is because if you search, you will likely search for places you already know or at least search for the same types of places you would typically go to. We want people to be inspired to try new and interesting places that they may not have heard of before or which they may not typically go to. We want to remove the effort of having to think and search by the same old criteria. That said, we do have a function that allows you to filter items by certain categories, for example, you may be craving something sweet, or want some inspiration on what to do this week! It’s also fun just to pick a location and discover a place nearby. We have heard from many many users who have discovered some awesome places on Sugar this way.



Jeff: Now I understand! So how does it work?

Stephen: It’s really simple! Just open Sugar whether at work, home or around town and you will see a number of places with featured items nearby. You can read about them, just as you would in any city guide, and if it takes your fancy you can then snap up a voucher for that item and redeem it straight away or within several days. Everyone who registers will receive a free $10 Sugar credit to get started and once you have used them all up, you can easily top up with your debit or credit card. The more you top up, the more free credits you will get to spend on food, drink and events.

Stephen: I mentioned a ‘gamified’ element earlier on so let me explain that a little more. There is a button in the app called ‘skim’ that allows you to effect the price of an item just by clicking on it.  What’s neat is that once you click this button, you can then invite your friends to get involved and affect the price even further. So what happens is that your friends discover new places and you get a bigger incentive to go and try them out. It’s quite addictive!

Jeff: Interesting! Is there a limit or something?

Stephen: Yes there is a price limit to every product and also each item has a limited quantity per day! Remember this is not a belly-busting deal app. But do not worry,  if it’s sold out today, you can always try it the following day or check out other places too! In fact, one of the main aims of Sugar is to encourage discovery, so if something is sold out we hope you try out another place nearby.

Jeff: It’s a very interesting concept. What sort of merchants do you have on the app?

Stephen: The majority of our merchants are in the F&B space and range from hidden gems in Changi Village to trendy cafes and bars in Tanjong Pagar. In fact, a lot of places I hear my friends tell me about are already on Sugar, although sadly they don’t seem to know this quite yet (laugh). We always try to support local SMEs and places that add something to the fabric of Singapore. In fact, featuring local merchants of all shapes and sizes, both new and established, was one of the very reasons we started Sugar and this is something we are very passionate about.

Sugar is not only about F&B though, we cover events and lifestyle too. This adds to the culture, variety and excitement of Singapore just like the F&B scene. We have featured F1 parties, comedy nights, poetry jams, international DJs and the recent Boyce Avenue concert (although I couldn’t get tickets unfortunately).

Sugar is free and it is available on the App Store and Google Play.

To find out more information, do visit their website at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *