Interview With MarketPlace Entrepreneur Chin SuYuen

Chief Inventor - MomoCentral

I got to know SuYuen via Gordon‘s recommendation.

SuYuen sitting bank in a comfortable chair with a laptop on her lap.

It came about as I was looking for developers to help me with a CareerTech idea (more on that soon. It is coming to fruition.).

I wasn’t keen to hire one full-time given the part-time nature that I’m personally committing into this.

It was then that I was introduced to MomoCentral, a real-time freelancing platform for you to find developers and designers.

SuYuen soon came into the picture after I put out my specs and that was where I got to know her better.

An NUS Computer Science graduate, she has received multiple programming recognitions and awards. She was even admitted into the University Scholars Program (only 2% makes it every year).

You would expect someone with that credential to go into a big MNC or stat board to live out the rest of their career.

But SuYuen was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and soon co-founded MomoCrew (where Gordon was also involved)

Currently, all her energy is on MomoCentral and she will share more on why focus is so important to be successful:

 

1. Please share a bit about what you do.

I’m the co-founder of a real-time freelancing platform called MomoCentral (https://momocentral.com).

MomoCentral_Homepage

By real-time, let’s say you book a developer from 9 am to 3 pm on weekdays. At 9 am, the developer will come online and work on anything you want including screen shares, conference calls, discussions, iterations, etc.

At 3 pm, the developer stops and you get a bill for 6 hours of their time. You can get the developer to work on any project and tasks you want during your booked time slot. Think of it as having your in-house employee.

All our developers and designers have been interviewed, tested and verified through our evaluation processes before being allowed onto our platform.

Currently over 150 companies hire on our platform, including Xfers, a YCombinator and fintech startup that recently raised USD2.5 mil of seed funding.

 

2. What were you doing before starting your business?

Before starting MomoCentral, I’ve worked on three other companies in the past including:

a) Virtual Sandbox

– A Sim-city like game where children build their dream city while learning English vocabulary, using Augmented Reality technology

– Think of Farmville meets Augmented Reality

– We won a SiTF Award for it but the sales cycle was too slow for our startup to survive

 

b) MokoFarm

– When sales cycles in (a) were too long for us to bear, we decided to build an iPad game which was like a Farmville for kids

– MokoFarm did well on the App Store but after a month, its popularity started dying down due to overcrowding of apps on the app store

 

c) MokoMomo Interactive

– Out of the need for survival, we decided to become a development house.

– We did lots of the web and mobile design and development works for many clients from small startups all the way to MNCs, including Singtel, The Face Shop and Shopify.

 

3. How did the idea for your business come about?

The inspiration for MomoCentral came from a few gross practices we observed in the industry during our agency days (from MokoMomo Interactive).

A) Outsource-ception

– This is where agencies get the job, charge the client an arm and a leg, outsource it to an offshore team, who then further outsources it to external vendors, who then outsources it to freelancers, and on and on.

– MomoCentral cuts out all the middle man and puts you in direct contact with the freelancers. Instead of paying SGD90/hour to the agency, you pay SGD20/hour to the same freelancer.

B) Fixed Price Fixed Scope Engagements

– Honestly, there is nothing wrong with this, except more often than not feature creep happen, delays happen, timeline overruns and things get stressful for developers.

– It’s also not easy to estimate the time and cost needed based on a list of specs on a piece of paper

– On top of that, if you’re a startup who is constantly talking to customers and getting feedback from users, you need a more agile and flexible method of product development that isn’t tied to a fixed scope.

– For example, if a product takes three months to develop, in 3 months you could have learnt a lot from customers on what they want, and need some features dropped and replaced in between.

– On the traditional fixed price fixed scope model, when changes happen, there is a lot of paperwork for change requests, requotes and readjustments of timelines

– MomoCentral is fully flexible. We let you work with the freelancers directly and pay by time. We don’t charge by project or scope. This has made it much more transparent and flexible for both clients and freelancers as they can start and stop as needed, change their plans at any time and shift tasks around based on priorities.

 

4. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Sleep! Lots and lots of sleep! I probably earned a few wrinkles and dropped some hair along the way too! haha

SuYuen working on a train

5. How did you get funded?

We are entirely bootstrapped and have no plans to fundraise anytime soon as we are profitable.

On the cash flow side, we didn’t spend on anything unnecessary, nor did we hire unnecessarily.

We were just really focused on the doing, which surprisingly and thankfully for our business, did not involve much cash. It involved more of our brains, time and energy!

 

6. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about?

Haha! This is going to be so fun. I hope our client doesn’t mind us mentioning this.

Our very first customer for MomoCentral is Mr Soh Chong Kian from the amazing startup GetSpini.com.

He was introduced to us by Mr Alvin Chan, current co-founder of Neeuro.com, former Brandtology co-founder, a long-time friend, customer and great supporter of us since our agency days.

 

7. How do you go about marketing your business?

Word of mouth and blogging! But seriously, word of mouth!

Focus on doing good and people will spread the word about you to the relevant target markets!

We have not touched any ads, digital marketing, stuff like that because we are so clueless and such airheads about it.

It’s best to focus on what we know for now (until I find time to read some beginner/tutorials).

 

8. Describe your typical day.

Wow, there’s no fixed routine as we all work based on the business needs.

suyuenbluebottlecoffeepaloalto

If I need to pull an all-nighter, I will pull an all-nighter. Some days I skip sleeping, some days I work 12-15 hours and sometimes I sleep 12-15 hours.

I think when you’re running your own business you’re just really motivated to keep working all the time so I’ve never really tracked what my daily routine is like.

Some days I will just binge watch Korean dramas for 3-4 days in a row.

 

9. Who has been your greatest influence in your business and why?

Well, since everyone gives parents as an answer, that’s a given, I’m going to mention someone other than my parents as well.

The Dalai Lama! His book “The Art of Happiness” really gave me a lot of clarity in understanding the different kinds of people I meet, particularly in explaining why they may have behaved a certain way (E.g. : Suddenly bursting out in anger over small little mistakes, etc. ).

Once I started having more compassion, I spent way less time wondering why people did certain things or behaved the way they did and more time just doing things in the business that contributes towards our goal ????

 

10. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?

So you know, for the longest time, we were mostly securing deals through face to face meetings.

For a platform to be successful, however, you don’t want your business only to be limited to only the number of people you talk to. That’s a service, not a product.

We hence embarked on a looooong arduous mission of improving our website visitor to paying customer conversion, without ever meeting any of the customers.

After 200+ iterations and gazillion hours staring at Google Analytics over and over, we finally succeeded with the automatic conversions, all purely online! 🙂

 

11. What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way that you work?

Don’t waste time sulking, complaining and whining about why things didn’t work out the way you thought it would.

Every 30s spent whining could be used to write one extra line of code. Spend all the time and energy building, launching and iterating your product instead.

[Tweet “Every 30s spent whining could be used to write one extra line of code – SuYuen, MomoCentral”]

 

12. If you could go back in time to speak to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?

Focus. Don’t try to do and be involved in too many ventures at once. Focus on doing one thing, and doing it well.

When you’re involved in too many projects / building too many products at a time, your mind will eventually get to a state where all you’re doing is clearing tasks for each product as opposed to thinking through what else you can do to bring each product further.

suyuenatwork

You want to get to a state where you’re always thinking of ways to make your product better, execute, test, iterate, repeat.

I’m not only talking about product development but also marketing, branding, customer support, customer conversion flows, etc.

As for Momo, after we built the shiny platform and website, we realised “Hey, no one is even clicking the “Get Matched Now” button.” Why!

We looked at the analytics and we were getting hundreds of visitors daily. OK, so clearly something is wrong with our content.

We then kept iterating the homepage frequently, even seeing if a change of image, text, or even color would make a difference. We then kept talking to lots of people about each iteration. We repeated this cycle until we finally nailed the customer conversions.

If you’re doing too many products, you won’t be able to focus on pushing each of your products forward well and end up spreading yourself too thin.

 

13. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Make it happen no matter what. If your obstacle is the lack of a tech co-founder, find ways to make your idea and business happen without one.

 

14. What’s your business focus for this year?

To keep empowering more startups and providing them with an additional avenue of getting great tech talents for their team!

To reach out to more developers and designers, and give them a pain-free and hassle-free environment to work with great tech companies!

 

15. Where can people find you online?

Find me through MomoCentral! ????

Website: https://momocentral.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/momo_central

Medium: https://medium.com/the-momocentral-times

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/momocentraltech

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