Over the course of ten years running my previous recruitment business, I changed the website five times.
I am fickle as a customer. The very minute I ended the call with my project manager, I would be off to Internet land finding new websites that I will frantically shoot out to my PM.
Looking back, even I can’t stand myself as a customer.
But Derick and his team manage to handle my fickle-mindedness well with their technical know-how and creative flair.
I got to know him more than five years ago. If I don’t remember wrongly, I first got to know his current co-founder Hanyuan when they were still with clickTRUE.
Soon after I bumped into Hanyuan again in Tanjong Pagar. It was then I got to know about their new venture.
But it was until around 2014 that I worked with Derick and his team to revamp our company website. I also commissioned them to work on the association website soon after.
Derick and I remained good buddies, and I love catching up with him over beers to discuss everything under the sun.
I’m happy to see him grow from where he started to their partnership with the Louken Group:
1. Please share a bit about what you do.
At work or home? :p
At work, I am the CEO and co-founder of Clickr, a digital agency specialising in digital marketing and web experience.
I do a bit of everything where I know I can bring value, but primarily, I work with our team to get new clients on board. I am also responsible for ensuring our customers and people are happy.
At home, I am a happy father of 2. I am the chief playmate, but I am proficient in diaper changing, making milk, reading bedtime stories and much more!
2. What were you doing before starting your business?
I was at my first job developing the 1st version of ST701 (SPH’s online classifieds), then the 2nd version of pHing (a spin-off from HardwareZone’s classifieds) and finally thinking if I could build something of my own.
While the tech startup scene isn’t as “hot” as it is now, knowing web development was already an advantage then in that there were plenty more opportunities if I do not lack a good idea.
3. What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
Perhaps being the only child made me feel responsible for making sure I can provide for my parents. I still remember taking on freelance web development work while reselling web hosting during my Polytechnic days.
With Clickr, I guess it was timely because my co-founder, then in the same company, had the same thought of starting a business. We were friends since 11; I introduced him to the group, and we left together to start Clickr. Perfect.
4. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Not spending enough time with the family. I am quite a workaholic so I tend to work late, weekends and I guess work is just life to me not in a bad way.
As a father of 2 now, I do try my best to be home for dinner and spend my weekends with the family though there are times I’d still give in to work. Can’t resist!
5. How did you get funded?
Being a service-based company has the perk of requiring almost zero capital since we can pretty much take care of fulfilment.
Working from home in the early days helps too. We were also very strict on only allowing upfront payments, and you’d be surprised most companies would give in to this if they value you.
6. Could you describe your first sale and how it came about
Hmm, I can’t recall, but it must be from a contact of my co-founder. I am not much of a Salesperson, and I remember stuttering during my first client meeting!
7. What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Search engine marketing! We relied solely on running search ads in the early days, and the rest happens organically. It is a no-brainer that if a user searches for services they need and we provide, we make sure they can get to us.
That being said, I strongly advocate experimenting all forms (or channels as we call it) of marketing. At Clickr, we preach user-centred marketing so profile your potential customers, understand their journey as your client and strategize the approach.
8. Describe/outline your typical day
Exercise (trying, trying) > Breakfast > Send my daughter to school > Work > Dinner > Spend time with kids > Catch up on work or read > Sleep
We are so mobile these days it probably isn’t possible to count actual work hours! I’ll reply to emails and pick up calls when I need to even after hours. You will find it easier not to “fight” work but just live along!
9. Who has been your greatest influence in your business and why?
There wasn’t any until late 2014 when Clickr joined the Louken Group (an Asian branding and communications group), and we had the opportunity of having a mentor, Mr Luke Lim, who founded the Louken Group.
Luke got us thinking how we’d define Clickr as a brand. Defining our mission/values as a company, leverage on our differentiation and to focus on harnessing our core competency while not sidetracking. It clearly helped in decision making and alignment within the enterprise.
10. What has been your proudest moment in the history of your business and why?
It might sound silly, but it would have been our first company photo shoot. It was then I realised we have grown as a team over the years. It didn’t come easy, and I do treasure the effort of the team.
11. What were some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way that you work?
A. Measure more, measure often.
We do this enough for our client’s marketing campaigns but have never actually applied it to our business until bad decisions prove how important it is to be measuring aspects of your business.
Don’t be all focused on the sales. Are you profiting from each new business? Is it worth bringing in a new client at the expense of losing a true one? How many new customers would you need each month to sustain the drop-offs? Are you jeopardising your team’s well-being?
B. The importance of branding & marketing.
You may be the best in what you do, but if you don’t leave the impression of how you are different, people will not think different. This also means reviewing all the touch points of your brand and ensuring that they communicate the same with marketing to get the word out.
I’ve recently gotten more involved in speaking (dragged my feet for the first one but now I can’t wait for more opportunities) which adds a whole lot of credibility to the Clickr brand, and not to mention it drives business too.
Branding helps internal alignment too. Having better defined who we are as a brand allows us to be clearer in our communications to the team and how we work. E.g. being data-driven means we don’t just decide by experience/intuition.
C. Your network is your net worth
This may be a given, but I used to avoid networking or meeting new people unless of course they require our services. I’d rather just do good work.
Now, I keep an open mind in meeting new people, and I do enjoy the conversations. Leave a good impression and you have an ambassador for life.
[Tweet “Your network is your net worth – @dericknwq”]
12. What was your biggest screw-up?
I remember us hiring too soon resulting in a bad cashflow and losses. Back to measuring more and often.
13. If you could go back in time to speak with your 20-year-old self, what would you tell him?
Go, build it. I think that was the time I had the idea similar to HungryGoWhere. Could have been a good exit! :p
14. What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
You need grit. Convince yourself you have grit before committing to an idea. A bad idea is better than no idea. Then refer to question 11.
15. What’s your business focus for this year?
We are always learning as we grow but this year’s focus is to “focus”.
With a strategic brand positioning, focusing on what we are good in or need to be good in, sticking to our mission of helping businesses to leverage digital to improve their bottom line through our “mantra” of being user-centred, data-driven and measurable.
I am also putting the effort to making sure our employees are happy. Happy Employees = Happy Clients!
16. Where can people find you online?
[reminder comment=”You can leave your questions by commenting here.”]Do you have questions for Derick?[/reminder]