This is part one of our mentor interview series for GITxFB Startup Success Factors Bootcamp 2017. Look out for more interviews coming soon! To get a chance to learn from these successful entrepreneurs and veteren industry leaders, sign up here. Application deadline extended to 23rd June.
Part two: Ensuring Top-Notch User Experience at Uber, Maita Gaerlan
Part three: Finding Your Ikigai with Spinta Co-founder Ketki Sen
Part four: Taking the Leap of Entrepreneurship, Crystal Koh
Planning for events is something that we have to do at least once in our lifetime. Be it throwing a 21st birthday party or setting up a grand wedding, there is really no escape! Since we have to do it anyway, why not do it hassle-free? This is where Delegate comes into the picture.
Delegate is a free online platform where users can discover and hire the best event vendors to help them in their planning. With an array of vendors to choose from, Delegate helps to make the planning process more efficient and painless.
This brilliant platform is co-founded by the inquisitive duo – Melissa Lou and Jacqueline Ye. Girls in Tech is thrilled to have a chat with them about their entrepreneurial journey.
Melissa’s true calling has come to her at a very young age. She has always wanted to do something hospitality related and that passion grew even more when she studied in a hotel management school in the Switzerland. After her studies, she joined a company called Quinessentially Lifestyle, doing events and lifestyle management. That was where she met Jacqueline, her creative business partner-in-crime.
She revealed, “I was in a concierge arm that dealt with high network clients. I planned and did events for corporate clients while Jacq was doing marketing. [That was when] we realised that the event industry has a market gap. Basically, it is not very transparent in the way people plan for events nowadays. [For example] people do not know what is the price difference when two photographers quote them and what exactly are they paying for. It is just not very transparent for our clients. So our mission from day 1 has always been to make event planning as transparent as it can be and that is how we started.”
Having a family-owned business, Jacqueline has long been inspired to do a tech startup. With a lot of different ideas in mind at any given time of the day, she is thankful that she found Melissa, who complements her creativity with analytical thinking.
She added, “I think as we grow to understand the event community a lot more, we are trying to fix the issues that both users and vendors face. For vendors, we want to provide them sales leads; for users, we want to be able to make sure that they are getting the best prices, the best value from the vendors and also the most convenience when they are planning their events.”
Delegate – Because it’s impossible to do everything yourself, delegate tasks to experts!
When asked how the name Delegate came to them, Jacqueline recalled, “The idea of delegate is being able to delegate jobs to people and ask them to do something for you. I have always been a master delegator. If I can, I would just find a person to do something for me. I guess it’s also being resourceful right? I know I can’t do everything by myself and I have always been very aware of that. So for me, I think there are a lot of great talents in Singapore or whatever cities and especially [when planning for] events, you should give it to the experts.”
Be aware of challenges and keep learning new skills to overcome them through different stages of the business
Being a young startup, there are definitely a lot of difficulties and obstacles faced along the way. Melissa related, “I think basically, at different stages of our business, there are definitely different challenges. Other than it being operationally different, there are things that we also had to take up. There were a lot of new skill sets that we had to learn from scratch and those could include things like understanding the whole idea behind fundraising and also going through the different processes in a corporate structure and corporate governance.”
She further added, “I have to say that, fundraising is a bit of a man’s language. There’s a certain kind of a structure that investors like to know, like to hear when it comes to pitching and fundraising. So honestly, it will be very difficult for me to get them to understand my language and my industry. So I will tailor myself to speaking their language, because after all, we are fundraising from them. But I hope to see some changes at least in the future for people to be more supportive of businesses that are not male-centric or even female entrepreneurs for example.”
However, Jacqueline thinks that businesses should not be given a gender label. She emphasised, “Everybody has their challenges, we (women) have advantages as well. We just think that certain issues should be highlighted because people don’t know that these things happened when they really do.”
Innovate with a vision – to make Delegate the go-to platform for events across Southeast Asia
With a vision for a more intuitive platform to better serve the vendors and users, there are a lot of improvements that are being done on Delegate right now. One of the exciting features is the chatbot. By gathering user preferences data, their tech team is building a robot advisory for event planning. “With a chatbot, it will guide them (users) to the right direction when they plan for events because honestly, from the users that we have met, everyone tells us that it is very frustrating when they were planning an event. So, I think Delegate will be the first place that they can actually go to when they want to plan events,” Melissa said excitedly.
Based in Singapore and Hong Kong, Delegate is also slowly expanding across the Southeast Asia market. Jacqueline related, “After Singapore and Hongkong, we are looking at Indonesia. That will take us a lot of time. Southeast Asia as a whole does not have a homogenous language, there’s no common income level, there’s no common culture, there’s nothing to tie these things together. The reason we start in Singapore and Hongkong is because the two markets are very similar and we also have a network already in Hongkong. We know we could instantly replicate whatever we have in Singapore over there. But to be able to enter Indonesia, we have to drastically modify our product and adapt to the market.”
Just do it!
Ending our chat, we asked them to give one piece of advice to encourage women to pursue entrepreneurship and both of them answered, “Don’t think so much, just do it!” The connection between these two co-founders is amazing and that, we guess, is one of the elements that make a business successful!
Need help with your upcoming event? Delegate here! http://delegate.sg
This article is written by our awesome volunteers, Fitri and Irene.
Fitri Handa Yani is a web ops executive by day and writer by night. She believes that storytelling is a powerful tool to inspire and influence change. Starting a travel website to share her globetrotting muse with travellers alike is a goal that she continuously work towards without sacrificing her sanity. Showing great interest in women empowerment, she hopes one day her words will be powerful enough to advocate gender equality and freedom. Her articles can be found on SPH, MIMS and Piques Media.
Currently employed as a Media Planner, Irene Siah has a strong interest in digital technology and believes that social media is the next biggest influential tool for communication. Being fluent in English, Mandarin and Korean, her forte is creating useful content for travellers around the world. Besides work, she loves to explore new adventures and wishes to start a travel business someday.