Yan Cheng Cheok is the Managing Director of Yocto Enterprise and the founder of JStock, an investment analysis tool that is highly utilized and popular with many investors and financial analysts all over the world. Prior to JStock, Yan has been working in the software development industry for 10 years. Most of his software experience had been on desktop and mobile software, which created the requisite foundation that led to the birth of JStock, in its current form.
As part of App Week at the Asian Entrepreneur, the team speaks to Yan about creating JStock and how it is like working on the tech-side of things.
Could you explain what JStock is for those out there who have not yet used it.
In a nutshell, JStock is a resource, or better to be described as a tool, which makes your investment of stocks fun and easy. However, to describe it as, ‘just a tool’, is inaccurate because JStock actually consists of 2 products or forms. So, there is JStock, the free market software which runs on Windows, Linux and OSX. Absolutely free in terms of price, and even more specifically, freedom in accessing and modifying source codes. Post-dating this software on the operating systems is JStock Android which runs on Android, as the name suggests. Selected features for the app are free but advanced features are only available through a one time purchase.
What led you to create JStock?
JStock was born after the cancellation of a part-time freelance project of mine, when my client dropped out. During that time, I was investing in stocks and I really needed an easy-to-use tool in assisting me in managing my stock portfolio. My broker firm had already provided me one. But as a user, I really thought it was inadequate in the sense that it didn’t actually meet many of my needs. So, what I did was, I decided to open the source code to the public, simulatenosuly, continuing to enhance it. There came a point, when I started to realize there were others out there, who loved to use this software. This gave me immense motivation to continue developing and enhancing JStock during my spare time. It was only recently, I decided to make the software even more accessible by introducing it to the mobile devices, starting firstly with Android which is now the widely used mobile system.
Obviously there are many stock market softwares out there, what sets yours apart from others?
I think there are many things that sets it apart. Without spending too much time on it, I will name a few; firstly, the software covers a wide spectrum with 26 countries and their respective stock exchange covered. It is incredibly easy to use, it was designed with the avoidance of the annoying complexities of many of the alternatives provided by many firms in mind. There is seamless mobile and desktop integration. Most importantly, it is free, we even go as far as to provide free mobile message alerts and I also ensure that users can contribute by making the source open. JStock was born out of practicality, and innovation and user experience are the incentives driving its growth.
How did you garner the user base for JStock initially?
Merely by word of mouth. Whenever we have a new release, we will announce it in several open source software related forum and stock market forum. Since JStock is a free stock market software and being non-commercial in nature, people welcomed our announcements. They view our intentions as altruistic, instead of advertising. So there was great reception for it. Obviously, with JStock Android we’re trying to go more commercial, so more traditional means of advertising will be used there.
So is it actually hard creating an app?
This is a question that a lot of people ask often. I think the best way to put it, is this, it is very hard to create a good app. A good app is defined by simplicity in my opinion. If there is any difficulty or complication in the creation process, I think it would be, how can we allow users to complete complicated tasks in a simple manner. That was what I was trying to get towards with JStock Android. The process itself, for JStock Android, it took 4 months full-time to complete. Although it is usable right now. To me, it is still far from complete yet. So there is always room for improvement.
What can you tell us about the app industry in Malaysia?
I think, in past few years, Android app developers in Malaysia haven’t actually paid much attention to user experience. They just want to make an app that will work out of the box. So there is no focus on beauty nor simplicity. But I think, they will start realizing making a beautiful and simple app is also key to staying ahead of competition. So, things hopefully will get better in that sense.
You speak of competition, have you faced much competition yet?
I think the stock market app is a very niche market in Malaysia, as not everyone in Malaysia are into stock investing. The market pie for stock market app in Malaysia, is not as huge as gaming app. So, I also do not expect the competition as much as you would get in the gaming app industry. So far, I am not worried about competition.
Are there things that are being done in the West in the app industry that we could possibly learn in Asia?
Certainly, they are not just focused on making the app works. They pay very much attention into the finer details to ensure a beautiful app and smooth user experience. For instance, they do research on what is the minimum size of a button, to make it is touchable easily. So, with such work attitudes and approaches, they develop absolutely great apps. I believe, we can really incorporate this kind of mentality in Asia.
What advice will you give to our readers out there pursuing their own ventures?
Don’t give up unless you really have to. Always believe in yourself.
Connect with Yan and JStock today
Email: [email protected]