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Meet the Founders of Kaodim

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Choong Fui-yu is the co-founder & CEO of Kaodim.com, the leading marketplace for local services – from plumbers, photographers, cleaners, wedding planners and many more. Kaodim was born in Malaysia and has expanded into Singapore and the Philippines, with the rest of South East Asia coming soon.

Before working on Kaodim, Fui spent 6 years as a corporate and commercial litigation lawyer. He’s a builder at heart and works day and night building Kaodim into an impactful business, with the hope of bringing positive change to the services industry and everyone in it. He’s passionate about big ideas and value creation through business and entrepreneurship.

Jeffri Cheong is the co-founder & Managing Director of Kaodim.com. He was a litigation lawyer specializing in intellectual property and commercial arbitration with a leading international law firm prior to starting Kaodim. This is his first business venture in an environment that is completely different from the litigation courtroom. He decided to leave his career as a lawyer behind, leap into the wild, unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, learn everything about building a business from scratch and challenge himself to building a regional tech start-up that can change the lives of millions.

In your own words what is Kaodim?

Choong Fui-yu:

A bunch of highly committed people collectively working towards a common goal of helping people with things they care about most (whether it’s the plumbing or renovation of their home, or a photography session for their wedding) and to empower businesses with growth, innovation and progress.

Jeffri Cheong:

Imagine you have a leak in your house, what would you do? You’ll probably ask your friends or family for recommendations for a plumber. Often this plumber may be unavailable, unqualified, and too expensive for the job. Often you end up disappointed, wishing there was a faster, more reliable solution. Kaodim allows you to tell us your specific problem using your mobile phone, computer or any device. Within minutes or hours you’ll get matched with qualified and verified service professionals like plumbers, electricians, cleaners and much more who will provide you with a custom quote to fix your problem. You can compare business profiles, read reviews from customers who’ve used them in the past, communicate with them through our app and pick the service provider who best suits your requirements. Kaodim provides an effective solution to a pain point which millions of people go through every day.

How did you come up with the idea of Kaodim?

Choong Fui-yu:

For me, at the beginning I really just wanted to build a company – but a company whose business and way of doing business added great value to a big part of society. There was a huge void in local services and we felt that there was so much that could be done to make things better for both the consumer and the service providers.

So we did a lot of research and saw a few business models that worked and others that didn’t work in other places around the world. That’s when we came upon thumbtack.com, which is a local services marketplace in the US from which Kaodim’s initial idea was emulated from.

We felt that the model where we could match both the consumers and service providers through a quick and convenient platform was something that would solve the problems often encountered in service related transactions – for the consumers, the value Kaodim provides comes in the form of a quick and easy way to get connected to and receive price quotations from service providers who understand your specific needs and in addition, read reviews from other consumers who have used those service providers in the past. This way, consumers no longer have to waste precious time searching for the service providers. They also get several quotes to compare prices from. The profiles, ratings and reviews left by other consumers who have used the services of a particular service provider also give them a clear idea of who they’re hiring for the job and what they can expect in terms of quality.

As for the service providers, Kaodim is the fastest and easiest way for them to grow their businesses. Instead of having to spend time and money marketing and reaching out to new customers, Kaodim quickly matches them with people who are looking for their services. In addition, the service providers get to decide who they respond to and whether the job requested for is within their capability and convenience. So it’s a quick, easy and also very sustainable service because they are empowered with choice and flexibility like never before.

As a platform, Kaodim provides a lot of added value in the form of the trust and transparency that we spend a lot of time cultivating. We believe that this trust and transparency promotes better quality all round and ultimately, elevates service levels.

Jeffri Cheong:

We wanted to bring mobile technology into an industry which has seen very little innovation since the beginning of time. Service providers’ likes photographers, cleaners; plumbers still relied on flyers and referrals to get customers even though they were online on their phones or computers all the time. We wanted to build something that allowed them harness this technology to get clients rapidly, just like how Myteksi has given taxi drivers more customers than they had before.

We also wanted to solve the pain points that millions in Southeast Asia have with respect to hiring service providers that had a sometimes unfounded stigma of being unprofessional, unresponsive and delivered poor quality work. Through Kaodim thousands of businesses have transformed using this technology in a short period of time and the general standards or service quality among professionals in Malaysia has increased through the dynamic ecosystem we have created which encourages them to deliver better service for their customers every day.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Kaodim?

Choong Fui-yu:

Jeff and I were both still practicing lawyers when we first started Kaodim. We ideated for a short while and started with a very simple single page website to test the whole model. Everything was done manually and we didn’t build anything or buy anything. We just tested the model and made sure it worked. When we started getting good traction we realised we were on to something big. That there was a real problem worth solving and that our solution was something people needed and loved. That’s when we decided to work on Kaodim full time.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

Choong Fui-yu:

We were lawyers and had no particular expertise outside of that except our wits and judgment. Everything had to be learned from scratch, from digital marketing, operations, tech & product, everything. We overcame it by being really open to everything and importantly, always reminding ourselves that we had a lot to learn. Necessity is the mother of all invention – and that’s very true because we had pretty much nobody to help us. We had to figure it all out ourselves but we put in a lot of hard work and managed.

Jeffri Cheong:

We encountered many challenges such as educating the market on this new service, figuring how to persuade people to use the product, maintaining the quality of our service providers and capturing the trust of our users. We had to be resourceful, think on our feet, act quickly, work hard and focus on our vision of building a quality product that can give true value to millions of people.

What kind of feedback did you get for Kaodim so far?

Jeffri Cheong:

Tens of thousands of Malaysians alone have hired service providers on Kaodim and have had excellent experiences. Testaments to this are the high ratings and positive reviews customers have left on all the service providers they’ve hired. Some service providers have made 400 new customers in just a few months from using kaodim. Some of them had hundreds of jobs at the end of a year before using Kaodim, but after 8 months or so of using Kaodim, they had thousands of jobs.

Many people who tried Kaodim to get a cleaner or electrician continue to use Kaodim again to hire professionals for the same service, or other services. This is likely due to the excellent experience they had with the platform and the dedicated customer service team we have to make sure everything goes well from the moment they submit a request until the conclusion of their project.

What is your strategy against your competition?

Choong Fui-yu:

There will always be competition in anything worth doing. Our strategy against competition is not to look at what our competition is doing, but what we can do better.

Jeffri Cheong:

Kaodim provides more leads to small businesses for them to get new customers compared to any other platform out there. This is according to our service providers who rely on Kaodim solely for new customers. The general sentiment among our investors and loyal service providers is that Kaodim is the market leader. We focus on continuing to enhance our product to give both our service providers and people looking for services the best experience possible. We focus on making sure that the quality of our service providers is high and we give our customers the opportunity to hire hundreds of different services from roof repair to new-born photography at the best, most competitive prices without compromising on quality.

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Choong Fui-yu:

The services industry has its own nuances, and there is a general perception in Malaysia (and in the rest of SEA as well) that service quality is low. What we’ve found is that there’s often just a lot of misunderstanding and lack of proper communication and understanding between customers and service providers, rather than a simple lack of quality or low service quality. There isn’t a simple and convenient way for people for looking for services to state specifically what they need and be able to meet qualified service providers who can meet those exact needs. That’s what Kaodim is about and that’s one of the reasons why it has gotten the success that it has. What we’re also happy to see is that by paying close attention to vetting and pre-screening service providers, managing them through reviews, merit and demerit systems, we don’t just get the best providers on the platform but more than that, we create an ecosystem where people are rewarded for giving good service. Eventually, as we have seen quite clearly, this leads to an overall improvement in service quality. We’re really excited in creating this ecosystem across SEA.

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

Choong Fui-yu:

Like any other business, it’s a question of value. Give value and you will always be relevant.

Jeffri Cheong:

The services industry is a billion dollar one and it is here to stay for a long time. Kaodim will continue to expand its high value marketplace to match people with thousands of other professional service providers and grow those who provide those services along the way.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Jeffri Cheong:

There is tremendous opportunity to build tech focused solutions in Southeast Asia- a 600 million strong market that is dying for innovation and change. There are many challenges about doing business in SEA such as the fragmented economies, markets and cultures of each country. But if you navigate the differences well to build a localized business in every country you’ll be alright. That is why we focus heavily on localization. We are called Kaodim.sg in Singapore, Kaodim.com to appeal to Singaporeans and Malaysians who understand what the word Kaodim represents. But we are called Gawin.ph in the Philippines which means “get it done” in Tagalog to appeal to that market. We also have local teams in each country we operate in so we can really relate to our customers in each market.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

Choong Fui-yu:

I wouldn’t define entrepreneurship as being Asian or Western, except to say generally that the idea of entrepreneurship and the efforts made and taken there are obviously more advanced. But ultimately I think it’s all relative – entrepreneurship is about solving big problems in innovative ways that are a much better than what’s already out there. Whatever problems there are in Asia or the West are problems all the same, so sophistication and methods are not quite as important as understanding the culture and people in the market or country that you are operating in.

What is your definition of success?

Choong Fui-yu:

Honestly I don’t have one. I want what everyone wants, I just want more. But if I have to put it in words, I’d say that success is not a single tangible thing – it’s a continuous pursuit of happiness, however you define it at any given time of your life.

Jeffri Cheong:

If you are able to develop good systems and habits for yourself and stick to them on a daily basis you’ll be successful. If you’re able to find peace, contentment while continuously learning and developing yourself that’s already success.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

Choong Fui-yu:

I never thought of becoming an entrepreneur. I just wanted to build a company that provided great value and had positive impact to a great number of people.

Jeffri Cheong:

Entrepreneurship allows me to effectively channel my creativity, enthusiasm, ideologies and values every single day and seeing tangible result from it. I have to live with the anxiety, risks and consequences that come with it but it makes me feel truly alive- able to experience the variety of challenges and adventures that life is able to offer.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

Choong Fui-yu:

Being curious and always having the drive to learn more, see more, do more. And constantly reinventing yourself to get better and never being satisfied.

Jeffri Cheong:

Exercising good judgment, listening to people, following advice, working diligently, being industrious and putting your customers ahead of anything else.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Choong Fui-yu:

Give yourself the time to think about what you really want in life. Decide what it is. Then just go for it.

Jeffri Cheong:

You can’t be a great entrepreneur on your own and you can’t be good at everything. You’ll need to rely on building a team of people who are smarter than you to get you to where you want to be. You will need to invest time in training, mentoring, teaching and making everyone around you feel like they genuinely want to be a part of your journey.

Connect

http://www.kaodim.com/

www.kaodim.sg

http://www.gawin.ph/
www.facebook.com/kaodim

https://www.facebook.com/gawin.ph

www.facebook.com/kaodim.sg

Entrepreneurship

Uber’s Future with Grab?

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Following Bloomberg’s report, Grab on Monday announced that it has acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations.

This deal is said to be the largest-ever of its kind in Southeast Asia. Grab said it will integrate Uber’s ride sharing and food delivery business in the Southeast Asia region into Grab’s existing platform as it takes over Uber’s operations and assets in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As part of the acquisition, Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.

Moving forward:

  • Food delivery: Grab will rapidly expand its existing GrabFood businesses in Indonesia and Thailand to two more countries – Singapore and Malaysia – following the integration of the Uber Eats business. GrabFood will be available across all major Southeast Asian countries in the first half of 2018.
  • Transportation: Grab will grow its core transport offering to include more localised transport services and new mobility solutions, in partnership with other transport providers and automakers. Grab will also collaborate with governments and public transport operators to link public transport services and create seamless and integrated multi-modal commuter experiences. The recently announced GrabCycle marketplace for shared bicycles and personal mobility devices, and GrabShuttle Plus for on-demand bus routes are pilots toward this vision.
  • Payments and financial services: Grab will continue to enhance and expand its suite of offerings under Grab Financial, including mobile payments, micro-financing, insurance and other financial services for millions of underserved and unbanked consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region. GrabPay as a mobile wallet will be available across all major Southeast Asian countries by the end of the year.

To minimise disruption, Grab and Uber are working together to promptly migrate Uber drivers and riders, Uber Eats customers, merchant partners and delivery partners to the Grab platform.

The Uber app will continue to operate for the next two weeks for existing Uber drivers where during this period they can sign-up to drive with Grab. Uber Eats will run until the end of May, after which Uber delivery and restaurant partners will move to the GrabFood platform.

Anthony Tan, Group CEO and Co-founder, Grab said, “We are humbled that a company born in SEA has built one of the largest platforms that millions of consumers use daily and provides income opportunities to over 5 million people. Today’s acquisition marks the beginning of a new era. The combined business is the leader in platform and cost efficiency in the region. Together with Uber, we are now in an even better position to fulfil our promise to outserve our customers. Their trust in us as a transport brand allows us to look towards the next step as a company: improving people’s lives through food, payments and financial services.”

“This deal is a testament to Uber’s exceptional growth across Southeast Asia over the last five years. It will help us double down on our plans for growth as we invest heavily in our products and technology to create the best customer experience on the planet. We’re excited to take this step with Anthony and his entire team at Grab, and look forward to Grab’s future in Southeast Asia,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.

Over 5 million people use Grab in Southeast Asia daily. Today, the Grab app has been downloaded onto over 90 million mobile devices. Grab is in 195 cities in eight Southeast Asian countries and offers the widest range of on-demand transport services including private cars, motorbikes, taxis, and carpooling services, in addition to food and package delivery services.

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About the Author

This was an approved submitted release provided by Mike Cheong. 

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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series of Women Founders, CEOs & Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies, a leading mobile customer engagement and loyalty software company headquartered in Singapore.  Anna was born in China and grew up in the U.S., and has been in the tech industry for nearly 20 years. She has worked at large and startup companies before taking over the leadership of Perx in November 2014.

perx-logo


How did you rise in the industry you are in?

With pure perseverance and an undying passion for success. All because of the fear of letting my parents’ big sacrifice go in vain. They came to the U.S. with $500 and 2 young kids (my sister and me). They sacrificed their careers as established academic and healthcare professionals. I wanted them to be proud and while growing up in the U.S. where it’s full of dreams and hopes. I took on many challenges and tried many things to prove that I can achieve success and greatness but not without hardship, obstacles, and major discrimination challenges.

From the day I graduated from college, I started my career in the tech industry. I have never once let a mostly male-dominated industry discourage me. I also did not let rejection of opportunities discourage me either. I optimistically persevered and even acted like one of the boys to fit in and disguised my femininity at times. I was not afraid to face challenges, push backs and lean into difficult situations. I always knew if I didn’t take those chances, the opportunity would pass me by.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you? (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics.)

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t the usual leadership demographic. There are more and more tech companies being led by females, but it still has ways to go to be on the same level playing field as men.

I was actually recruited into this role by the board and I took it since I knew the mobile technology was a hot area to get into and it was a great business model. However, when I came in, I discovered that this company needed a whole new face lift, an entire shift in the way we did business to ensure we could achieve sustainable and repeatable success.

I therefore “refounded” the company and developed a whole new culture, technology platform, business and service model. You now see a different Perx. Perx 2.0.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

This is one of the more common challenges with companies of all sizes. It has to start from the foundational ingredients such as core values and culture. Then it’s leadership and how well you instill and practice ownership, accountability but yet still make it a fun, creative and challenging environment.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I now unconsciously support it. I believe in and embrace diversity but at the end of the day, I aim to hire the best person for the role and not the best gender.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

I’m not sure if there’s any single handbook that teaches you to be a great leader but there are things that I believe in and practice. You have to have great vision, strong purpose, and core values that the company can buy into, support, and love by. Focus focus focus and be transparent. Lead from the front line and lead with compassion and empathy.

Advice for others?

Don’t be afraid to fail and seek advice from your community. You cannot do this alone and being a CEO is a lonely job. Find one or a few mentors. This is absolutely essential to our success and our sanity.


To learn more about Perx, please see http://www.getperx.com.

Are you a startup looking for investment? Come join me at Expert Dojo’s “Q4 Investor Festival – Where Startups Meet Investors” in Santa Monica, from October 24 to 28. Details at http://expertdojo.com/events/biggest-startup-pitch-event-usa-5-days-focus-get-startup-funded-investor-festival/.

For information about the first ever “Latinx in Tech Edition”, please see http://www.kaporcenter.org/event/startup-weekend-oakland-latinx-tech-edition/.
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