We are half-way to the end of 2015! Without you knowing, this is the fourth episode of our Entrepreneur’s Insights! I have been receiving feedbacks from all around the world on my execution of interview. A mix of both good and bad. Luckily, the selection of entrepreneurs is generally well-received from the readers.
A common request from the ground is to do a video interview. I would certainly want to do that but as many of you might have known video production requires equipment and manpower which currently, I don’t have either. (That’s the sad part of running a one-man blog and thing doesn’t get better when you still have a day job! sigh).
If there is any kind soul with the production expertise and would like to “sponsor” his or her service, please feel free to drop me a note.
- Helpling is a new entrant in Singapore’s market. Do you mind giving a short description of the company as well as how you land the job as a CEO of Helpling Singapore?
Ans: Helpling is an online platform that connects homeowners with part time cleaners. Leveraging on today’s technology, we believe that booking help for your home should be as easy as a few clicks. Gone will be the days where we have to trawl through newspaper advertisements or be vulnerable to the black market.
I was originally the founder of Spickify working on a similar business model, and we got acquired by Helpling earlier this year. This is how I landed the job as the CEO of Helpling Singapore team. With support and investments from our partners, I am able to confidently extend my outreach to more households in Singapore.
2.Technology sector is growing exponentially in Southeast Asia region. What is your view on Singapore positioned as a “Southeast Asia’s Silicon Valley”?
Ans: The tech scene in Singapore has definitely flourished over the years, but I am not quite sure if we are ready to call ourselves the Silicon Valley of Southeast Asia. Our Singapore government has been valiantly pushing ahead through infrastructural support and investment injection. But beyond this, entrepreneur spirit is the driving force and essence of the Silicon Valley we know today, something that cannot be achieved unilaterally from a policy push. The entrepreneurial community in Singapore is gathering strength, and perhaps one day we will achieve our own successes to create a name for ourselves.
3.There are other online business directories that offer more comprehensive and wider range of services. How is Helpling different from other online platforms?
Ans: Helpling in an on-demand cleaning platform which matches homeowners with reliable cleaners. It charges a flat rate of $20 per hour (min 2 hours per booking), and payment is only processed after the cleaning is done. The service doesn’t charge agency fees, nor does it require customers to purchase a ‘package’.
Helpling is also the only company in Singapore backed by a $1 million liability insurance for each and every job completed, adding to the advantages of using Helpling.
- What are the challenges or opportunities for Helpling in the next 3 years?
Ans: Home services is one of the last industries to go online, and the market is warming up to us. This is an opportunity for us, especially as customers feel the pressure of increased costs in hiring a live-in foreign domestic helper due to tightening regulations.
A key challenge for us is scaling up our cleaner database. Cleaning is a tough job, and maybe even one that is frowned upon in Singapore. This is a social stigma we hope to eradicate. but meanwhile, expanding our team of dedicated, professional and tech-literate cleaners remains a challenge we have to overcome.
- What is the expansion plan for Helpling in Southeast Asia ?
Ans: Singapore is the first city in Asia Helpling has launched in, and we have ambitious plans on what is to come. Upon establishing ourselves in Singapore, there are plenty of expansion options we are looking at, including widening our service offering and increasing our geographical presence.
- What is your view on wearable technology? Do you see any unexplored market in this space for Helpling to fulfill?
Ans: In many sense, cleaning is still job that prides itself on good ol’ manual work to establish that personal touch that ultimately creates customer satisfaction. We have yet to see how wearable technology can be incorporated in our business, but we are definitely open to the idea as the technology matures. If there is anything the tech world has taught us, is that the possibilities are endless.
- Is Helpling raising capital? If so, which funding stage the company is at right now?
Ans: We raised Series B in March 2015. In total we have raised USD 62 million (series A and B).
- As an entrepreneur yourself, what are the attributes do you think an entrepreneur should possess?
Ans: One key attribution an entrepreneur should possess is conviction. Towards your vision, towards the work you do everyday, and towards the value you bring to society. We see ups and downs everyday. Without the ability to grit your teeth through the most difficult of situations, throwing in the towel becomes too easy an option.
An entrepreneur needs to have the ability to convince others of his/her vision too. There is no best person beside the founder of company to do this, and your ability to do this can well determine how far your company runs.
- You are an seasoned entrepreneur. What advices will you give for our budding entrepreneurs or peoplewho want to start a business?
Ans: Well, I will not describe myself as “seasoned”. I am still on the learning curve finding my own way on many things. But if there are two lessons I have come to learnt:
(1) This is as much a journey of self-discovery as it is building something. Always ask questions, even of yourself. You do not know what you are capable or incapable of doing until you actually do it.
(2) It is a long journey, not a sprint, and often times a lonely one. Surround yourself with lots of support, whether it’s from friends, family, or associates you meet as you build your dream.
- It is said that every entrepreneur has their own set of checklist while evaluating a venture. As an entrepreneur, do you mind sharing with us yours?
Ans: My two key criteria will be clarity of vision, and strength of management team.