Mia Gigandet co-founded an app named Ovvy, a one-stop shop which aims to connect homeowners with trusted merchants to get things done around the house.
What’s your story?
I’m Singaporean and attended a local school until I was 15 then transferred to an international school in Singapore before going to Edinburgh University where I studied mechanical engineering. I did an internship with BMW but decided I was not interested in pursuing a career in engineering and found the finance industry very interesting especially investing in stocks and trading.
While in university I invested in ASOS (a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer) and realised fashion in a down market still works. I went on to create a fashion label emblem that provided nice looking quality women’s shoes that were comfortable which I still run to this day. Thomas, my current business partner was looking to start a shoe line and somehow managed to contact me. We worked a little on his shoe line and decided to scrap it. We really enjoyed working with each other and decided to work on a new project together in which Ovvy was born, a service marketplace in which we connect clients with merchants to get their service needs done.
What excites you most about your industry?
The ability to solve issues through the creation of useful products. For my shoe company, I solve the issue of uncomfortable shoes and heels in particular, for the Ovvy a tech company we created an app that solves the issue of productivity and efficiency of engaging a service via digitally connecting people.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and my mother is Chinese Singaporean
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
For business definitely Singapore, the country is very receptive to new ideas. It is also a great launchpad as it is a small country and it is much easier to access the audience needed without spending extensive amounts of money to see if your system works before launching in another country. People in Singapore are also very open to collaborating and the country is very supportive of startups. Also, it is much easier to get connected with someone you would like to work with or approach for business.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The way my mother raised me. She told me growing up that she would recommend a direction in which she thought was best and if she was wrong she would help bail me out, however, if I chose to do my own thing and disregard her advice I would have to bail myself out. This ultimatum has shaped how I personally handle business and make decisions. What this taught me was every authoritative figure in your life is only human and it is possible their opinion isn’t right. As a boss, I always flip that on myself when handling my staff and it has helped greatly with people management. Secondly, be passionate about what you do because it will take you through the entire journey. When you have no safety net to fall on the only thing that will get you through is passion so never start anything you are not passionate about.
Who inspires you?
Anyone that is truly happy with a life they have created for themselves.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
If you give people a purpose for what they are doing, they do a better job as they understand the overall purpose of their task. For example, when managing a team it is better to start with the overall goal/vision of a project (purpose) before laying down tasks they need to do. If you dictate a task without telling the person the entire picture the person working with your return is less. Basically don’t treat people in your company as robots doing a task, treat them as people.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
How do you unwind?
A glass of wine on the balcony watching the sunset / travelling somewhere new and interesting.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, love being in a place where everyone who lives there has chosen to live there, its very relaxing and refreshing to be surrounded by people who are mostly driven by passion over money.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad, Poor Dad. To learn the mindset and perception needed to run business, opening up the mindset
Shameless plug for your business:
Ovvy was born out of a need for a one-stop reliable connective platform in which customers (people that need jobs doing ) and merchants ( people with skills to offer ) from all industries can access reliable information on who best to connect with to get a task done. The current market is saturated with millions of people with skills to offer, that are not able to tap into the full potential of their market due to a lack of platforms to showcase their skills effectively.
Ovvy would like to bridge that gap. Where all customers can go to one platform and access all the information they need to make the best decision on who to use and book them; while merchants can showcase their skills effectively and consistently be notified of existing jobs.
We created a secure cashless payment solution for both the client and merchant. Where merchants have a piece of mind that they will be paid the agreed price if the job is completed correctly and for the clients, their money is not released to the merchant unless they have confirmed the job is completed properly.
How can people connect with you?
Via email [email protected]
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.