Browse Wai Hong Fong’s personal website and you’ll see this quote – “Startup life is a roller coaster. You may feel incredibly down at 6pm. And feel on top of the world at 8pm.”
No doubt, the tech-preneur has seen his fair shares of ups and downs. He’d always believed that technology was a tool to make life easier. And when e-commerce was on the rise, he grabbed the opportunity to start up a powerful cloud-based point-of-sale, inventory, and customer relationship management system called StoreHub.
He spent countless hours coding, understanding the needs of both customers and business owners, and then translated all that knowledge into a product which he believed had a solid role to play in helping small brick-and-mortar retailers transition to the digital space.
“Those that will survive and thrive are those that can create unique retail experiences in-store. Our mission is to help them turn transactions into relationships. You cannot just wait for someone to come into the store and transact anymore.
“The question is, how can you, as a retailer, create better experiences that are unique in-store that the online space cannot do. These are some questions that we are trying to solve for SME retailers,” Fong told The Star earlier this year.
Fong knew what he was talking about. But finding customers was a different ballgame. Fong and his small founding team went through their own personal networks, as well as door-to-door, and experimented with different types of digital advertising services in order to generate leads. But they could only go so far on their own.
Then came Facebook.
Today, StoreHub has 5,000 clients across 15 countries, and is the the system of choice for big brands like Shell Select, Birkenstock and Big Apple Donuts. The business took off when the team leveraged on Facebook, with Fong revealing that they went from getting 150 leads per month to 150 leads per day after using Facebook!
StoreHub began working closely with Facebook tools, experimenting with different products to find out the most effective ways to reach their target audience. Facebook quickly became one of StoreHub’s biggest business drivers.
Another interesting story is that of Mark Koay, who in 2001, realised that digital photography was changing the way people took and stored personal photographs.
Despite having no experience in printing, Koay purchased a photobook printer, recruited a handful of colleagues, built a website, and started selling.
The photobooks were marketed as simple, do-it-yourself projects which anyone could tackle on their own. People loved the idea because it was so easy to do. They were able to design any personalised item through the company’s website or mobile app. And Photobook, in turn, minimised waste and did everything – from planning, production, and packaging – to less than 24 hours.
Today, Photobook Worldwide has offices in four countries around the globe and a team of 250 employees. Last year, they successfully shipped books to customers in over 100 countries.
Interestingly, the Photobook team noticed that people were creating albums from images shared on Facebook. The team was also able to reach out to these people and other digital photography enthusiasts to grow their customer base via Facebook.
They are confident that with Facebook, they will be able to reach their goal of expanding across South-East Asia and become the No.1 online photobook resource in all markets.
Both StoreHub and Photobook were built on solid ideas, hardworking teams and lots of positive, forward thinking solutions. When coupled with Facebook’s reach and digital tools, these businesses have been given the chance to expand, have much bigger ambitions than they dreamed.
Why not let Facebook help you find your people and grow your business? For more stories and resources go to madebyyou.fb.com/my/.
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