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Moving into the future
TELL US ABOUT THE VARIOUS STARTUPS THAT YOU HAVE FOUNDED BEFORE MOOVAZ.
Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with some very exceptional individuals on a few early-stage projects. Entrepreneurship has always been an avenue that I was keen to explore, and together with a partner, we started our first business in F&B by setting up a café in our university (NUS).
Reedz has since grown into a chain of lifestyle cafés operating primarily in tertiary institutions and business parks. After completing my postgraduate studies in China, my curiosity about the world of technology businesses led me to join Garena as its venture capitalist. During my stint there, I was given the opportunity to ideate and launch Shopee, South-east Asia’s leading e-commerce platform, which gave me insight into operating and driving a high-growth technology business and team.
That experience entranced me, and I subsequently went on to co-found three other companies – Fundnel, a digital private investment platform that offers unlisted securities in growth and pre-IPO stage companies to a qualified network of investors; CashShield, a global online fraud risk management company; and now Moovaz, an online aggregator platform driven by machine intelligence and blockchain, for international relocation services.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
My first brush with entrepreneurship was with my undergraduate student club, Enactus, a global non-profit community dedicated to empowering students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action.
My team and I worked with the local mayor in Banda Aceh, Indonesia to set up a social enterprise to aid the widows and orphans who had lost their fisherman husbands and fathers to the tsunami then.
Our simple business idea of selling artisanal soaps flourished, and succeeded in rebuilding a livelihood for the local community. On a personal level, this experience kindled a spark in me and gave me the confidence to try my hand at entrepreneurship.
With the support of NUS, this led me to start Reedz. Subsequently, speaking to people and venturing into the other industries led to more opportunities along the way. Safe to say, business and entrepreneurship has become something that I’m passionate about, and I hope to help other individuals kick-start their journeys beginning with communities such as Enactus, NUS Enterprise and more recently, organisations such as 8I Holdings Ltd with its WealthPark project.
HOW DID MOOVAZ COME ABOUT?
I first met my partners, Jerry and Vishnu, during my undergraduate days at NUS. After graduation, we went on to pursue individual careers, and Jerry and Vishnu eventually started their own logistics company. Having operated in the industry for the past seven years, they understood the inefficiencies and complexities plaguing the industry, and had an idea of disrupting the conventional way that international relocation was done.
Consumption habits of relocating professionals were changing due to factors such as cost containment, the rise of the gig economy and the dominance of Uber-mobility. As a result, customers now demand cheaper, faster and more transparent one-stop services. Juxtaposed against our research which uncovered the nascency of the logistics technology industry in our region and the emerging trends in the US, we made a call to start Moovaz to leverage on this opportunity and bring cutting-edge technology to democratise the existing relocation services market.
We first started Moovaz with the aspiration of bringing the world closer together by enabling a seamless and truly moving experience for everyone. My partners and I have been on the receiving end of such relocation services, having studied and worked overseas during the course of our careers. We believe that there is a more efficient way to get people from one place to another, and this process does not have to be complex and stressful.
Hence, Moovaz was built with customers’ needs in mind – to make moving and relocating cheaper, faster, more transparent, and to provide open access to individuals and families around the world. By breaking down these barriers, we can fulfil our promise to customers in delivering a ‘Life Well Moved’.
WHAT ARE SOME OF ITS LATEST DEVELOPMENTS?
We have recently concluded our seed funding raise of US$1 million from a group of investors who are both strategic and synergistic to Moovaz. We have also managed to secure an advisory board consisting of luminairies and thought-leaders from related industries. Our open beta platform (www.moovaz.com) was successfully launched to the public in June, with traction growing steadily. The team and I have also been making inroads into our next key markets, Australia and India.
WHY LOGISTICS TECH? WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER LOGISTICS TECH STARTUPS OUT THERE?
The logistics industry is a behemoth, projected to reach US$15.5 trillion by 2023. To give you a perspective of the scale and sheer size of the industry, it is set to be three times as big as the burgeoning e-commerce industry.
As Singapore is a logistics and transhipment hub, it makes absolute sense for us to leverage on the country’s key advantage and strategic role in the global economy to build a logtech company – possibly even for the world, circumventing our conventional limitations of having a small population and market size.
The logistics industry is one of the oldest industries in the world. Even though logistics powers the entire world, it is undeniable that this industry also faces the biggest and deepest challenges when it comes to change.
This also means that there is a lot of room for innovation and disruption, which can be enabled by technology. Companies are starting to recognise this opportunity, and investment trends into early stage logtech startups is on the upswing, buoyed by a slew of mergers and acquisitions in the region.
Something truly unique about Moovaz is that we are a global company from the onset, owing to the nature of international relocation. As a team, we have helped individuals and families in shipping their belongings to every major city in the world. Our network currently consists of over 2,000 trusted partners worldwide, operating into more than 170 countries.
The implication that this had on us was that from the get-go, we had to be creating products not just for the local market, but for our clients around the world. We were forced to be globally competitive from the very first day, which meant high risks for an early stage company, but we know that this will serve to keep us on our toes and make us better.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs of young businesses like me face is in attracting and retaining talent. Businesses are built on a foundation of people, and it is the onus of the entrepreneur (or rather the leader in this case) to assemble and manage a high-performance team.
With every new venture that I embark on, one thing continues to ring true – and it’s the importance of committing to and building good people. Good leaders don’t create followers; they create leaders. Therefore, it is imperative that we invest in the right people and empower them with the skills, knowledge and resources so that they can become better and continue to pay it forward.
In a relentlessly competitive and fast-changing business world where adaptability and agility are key, a strong and united team continues to be our sustainable competitive advantage. We have the very best team at Moovaz, and I am confident that this is why we will win.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FUTURE PLANS FOR MOOVAZ?
In the near term, we will continue to iterate our product and build meaningful features for our clients and partners, expanding our value-added service offerings to them. We are also in the midst of building our presence in Australia and India as our next key markets.
In the long run, we strive to redefine global mobility and the idea of international relocation. We hope to remove the barrier, anxiety and friction associated with relocation – and in doing so, bring the world closer together so that everyday professionals can comfortably see themselves as global citizens.
COULD YOU SHARE SOME ADVICE FOR OTHER ENTREPRENEURS OUT THERE?
Always go back to your “why” – the core purpose or belief that inspires you to do something. As an entrepreneur, we are bombarded with a multitude of day-to-day minutiae, and it’s easy to get disoriented. Routinely reconnecting with our purpose or the raison d'être of our business helps us to focus on the one true thing that matters and unifies our team towards a common goal.
A shining example of this would be with WealthPark, an investment tool created by Australian-listed investment holding company 8I Holdings Ltd. The team’s goal is to bring financial education to the masses and empower people through investing. This mantra chimes loudly in the entire team, and has resulted in a portfolio of products and services such as the WealthPark app, initiated ground up by team members from various departments in support of this common goal.