In the third episode of “This Mobile Life”, we chat to Chhai Thach, Co-Founder at Go Reception. GoReception is a visitor management system available on iPad and on the web.
We discuss how Chhai came up with the idea of Go Reception, customer success, and the impact of software as a service on enterprises. We also chat about how Chhai thinks about product and the challenge of focus. Go Reception is a product that has global sales with customers including MacDonalds, Coca-Cola, Rackspace, and Sydney Airport. It is a mobile/web app, available on the iTunes store.
We’re seeing a lot of innovation happening in the FinTech (Financial Technology) space. In the past 12 months, I’ve noticed these developments in Australian FinTech industry. I wanted to separate my visit to Tyro’s fintech hub today and the latest news in FinTech. I’ve gathered my insights and news from speaking to industry participants, friends, contacts, startups, banks, reading up about it and just being on the ground. This is from the period of March 2014 to April 2015.
I have a special interest in this space. In my earlier career, before I worked in tech I was a tax accountant at Deloitte specialising in FSI (Financial Services Industry). I worked with banks including the big end of town – Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, and Deustche Bank. I also worked with insurance companies, fund management, private equity, venture capital, mezzanine finance, securitisation, and mortgage companies.
I recently had an issue with my Macbook Air. I wasn’t able to hear the sound clearly when I was using my headphones. Sound would come out of one of the earbuds but not the other. I couldn’t quite figure out how to fix it, so I decided to take it to the experts – the Apple Store.
The most convenient store was the Apple store in Broadway Shopping Centre in Sydney CBD. I knew from past visits that the Apple store is located on the top level. Usually I hate driving to the city. Driving in Sydney CBD can be chaotic and stressful. The drivers have short tempers and there’s a lot of one way signs. So I had that stress in the back of my mind as I drove to the Apple Store.
Tech In Asia’s Australian Tech Startup Roundup for December is out, so please check it out!
You’ll see how some of Australia’s startups had their early christmas of sorts with increased capital raising and traction, and how they did it. Read about Freelancer.com’s initial listing experience at the ASX (quite the roller coaster ride!), Airtasker’s increased funding, and BTC.sx’s rapid growth in bitcoin trading.
I’ve also put together a shortlist of some interesting startup blogs you might want to read through the holidays.
I’ve been meaning to write on Medium for a while. Medium is a new platform for publishing blog posts.
A plug and play world
I received my new Macbook air this morning with much excitement. After my new weekly catchup with Holly from Pixc on Google Hangout and some lunch, I unboxed my new Macbook Air and turned it on.
I connected to our wifi, opened up Safari the default browser. Installed Lastpass which stores my logins and passwords. Immediately I was able to login to Gmail and Facebook. When I wanted access to our files and documents, I logged into dropbox and google drive to access them.
I first came across Uber when I was in San Francisco in August 2011. I had just arrived at my Airbnb host accomodation. I also realised that I had 10minutes to get to a meeting at Airbnb HQ and where I was staying was a lot further away than I expected.
I noticed a flyer for Uber stuck on the corkboard on the wall. It had a discount code, so it caught my interest. I figured I’d give it a shot and asked the host if I could have the flyer. However, my host offered me one of her spare bikes to ride to the office and said it would be faster than getting a cab ride. It was a girl’s bike and it was actually a lot of fun riding to work. I ended up riding this bike all over SF during my 2 weeks there.
My wheels in SF
I saved the Uber flyer for future use and kept it in my backpack. I was back at my host accommodation and had to meet up with some friends so I decided to give Uber a try again. I downloaded the app, put in my credit card details and made my first Uber request. I saw on the screen where I was with a person icon and it was glowing. Then I could see Uber’s around the city moving around.
Within 10 minutes, an Uber had arrived. It was an awesome looking car – a Lincoln Town car with a driver in a suit. It was clean, air conditioned, and you feel like a boss when you ride it in! Your own private driver on demand.
Uber Lincoln Town Car
After dinner one night with some colleagues, we decided to call it a night and head home. It also happened that a baseball game was on that night and had just finished. People were streaming out after the game, and there were thousands of people on the street. We called an Uber cab and it came in about 15 minutes. Was pretty amazing that on such a busy night, we could still get our own cab and it was reserved for us.
I ended up using Uber a lot during my brief stay in SF. It cost more than a regular cab, but it always came on time and you could see how close they were getting to you and you would receive an SMS as it was around the corner. The cost would have been approximately 66% more than a cab. So I always made a quick calculation in my head whether it was worth it. But because I was only there for a short time, the convenience it afforded and being on demand was much greater value than the cost.
I remember being in the Airbnb office and hearing one of my colleagues discussing how they were going to get to a place and another said “Uber it”. The fact that they used it as a verb meant a big deal – it had become a part of their language and a part of their lives. Its like the first time I heard my uni lecturer say “Google it” or when “Facebook me” became the norm.
Request me, maybe
What I liked about Uber is that it made requesting a cab and paying for it an easy and frictionless service. A one button request.
Ashton Kutcher, a famous actor and investor in Uber made some really interesting comments in this Techcrunch Disrupt interview. Check out his comments at 3.17 – 5.04.
Essentially, Kutcher is interested in service based companies that are disrupting the traditional industry players by becoming a “one button simplified transaction”. It removes the need for doing research, making a phone call and organising a booking. You are simply one button away from ordering a handyman, food, or a cab. Startups like Uber are lubricating eCommerce by making it simple and easy to transact with these services.
I was initially hesitant to put my credit card information into Uber, as it was the first time I had done it for an app. I mostly buy apps from iTunes and its really easy to use. Since they already have your credit card details, you just download the app you want, and put in your iTunes password. Its a frictionless experience.
A platform for on-demand services
Once you use Uber, they have your credit card information and you know that they provide a superior transportation service. Its becoming a platform for on demand transport services with cars, jeeps, and motorbikes being added. But I believe that the vision for Uber is bigger than this. Uber could become a platform for ordering anything on demand – local services, food, people by providing a superior service where they take a cut of 10-20%. Its like how Amazon and Apple have your credit card details, and now you can buy a whole range of items there beyond just books or music.
These comments in Inc.com interview with Travis Kalanick and their lead investor Shervin Pishevar, hinted at it as well.
Is it much of a stretch that Uber, which is on its way to becoming a verb, could soon mean “ordering food delivery” or “hiring a cleaning service”? It’s already standing for “reserving private planes”: Garrett Camp, who co-founded Uber with Kalanick (though he doesn’t have an operational role), last year launched BlackJet, an air-travel business modeled on Uber’s technology.
“Uber is building a digital mesh–a grid that goes over the cities,” Pishevar says. “Once you have that grid running, in everyone’s pockets, there is a lot of potential for what you can build as a platform. Uber is in the empire-building phase.”
Once Uber has the credit card details, trust, customer experience and logistics nailed, people could theoretically order anything over there. I thought their experiment with ordering ice cream was really interesting. Not just as a marketing stunt but as an example of how the platform could be used for other services.
Verticals for on demand services
The other interesting trend is the emergence of on-demand service verticals. You can see it already happening with verticals emerging such as these US startups and their Australian equivalents in brackets afterwards.
Whether Uber becomes the platform for on-demand services is debateable. If these startups can offer superior value to the consumer and the service provider, they’ll emerge as victorious. Its definitely an interesting space to watch.
As our lives get more busy, on demand services are just going to become more in demand!
Online video is a very powerful medium of communication. I’ve always believed that, even more so now with the availability of better internet speeds and wifi for video streaming. Although we are taught to not believe everything we see, video comes across as more authentic, real and credible than text. Its simply a more convincing type of content and great for marketing.
There are also more channels of distribution for video content with YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Instagram, Viddy and more. YouTube has become the biggest player in this space for discovering and watching video content. Its now a search engine for whenever I want to find a tutorial, music videos, basketball analysis and startup interviews.
Native Tongue Apps Video Series
Hence I decided to create my YouTube video series on mobile apps. I’ve been thinking about it for the past few months as a way to build credibility & authority in this space for my mobile app consulting business.
I have now launched more than 10 apps in various app store (based on 4 product lines), and I’m currently working on 3 apps for various clients. So I decided to share my knowledge about mobile apps and give away some free content, with the hope that it leads to more consulting work!
My first video is on “top 5 tips to market your app”. I decided to pack in 5 essential tips.
With the video, a customer can see, hear and feel you on a different level than with images or text. Its a more powerful connection that you can make with them as they can see your face and visualise who is behind the brand.
I decided that I was going to ship my first video on 1 August along with my first email newsletter. I placed a call to Jamie Andrei and later that week we got it done, and we went through a brief editing process and turned around the video in 1 week. You have to set yourself some hard deadlines otherwise you won’t ship. I’ve got some more videos planned so stay tuned!
Putting together a video like this is not just a matter of recording the video. Jamie helped me put together a script, worked on my presentation, lighting, sound, even my wardrobe – I’m wearing his jacket & pocket hankerchief!
The fact that he has worked in digital and has domain experience also helped me to refine my video and what I wanted to convey. It took about 1.5 hours to get this video done, since its my first one. I also recorded a second video as well during that time. I highly recommend Jamie for video work and he’s worked with Amazon Web Services and CEBIT as Head of Video Production.
With respect to the above mobile apps mentioned – Vine, Instagram, Viddy, these are mobile apps that enable short form video content from 6 seconds – 15 seconds to be recorded and shared. I’m calling it microvideo as it sounds better than “short form video content”! Its quick and easy to consume.
I also came across this article today about brands using Instagram video which I thought was really interesting. Its fascinating how brands are starting to use these mobile distribution channels to get microvideo content out there. 15 seconds is also the standard online video ad unit, so there is a method to the madness 🙂
This is my favourite one which is a Lululemon video. Lululemon is a store that sells Yoga & running gear. We have some of these stores in Australia.
Let me know what you think about my mobile marketing video and what I can do to improve it in the comments.
I’ve been using the Popapp mobile app a lot for prototyping mobile apps. H/T to Vinko Grgic from Jayride for the discovery. Its quick and easy to use. You can take a photo of a hand drawing sketch, upload the image, and turn it into a interactive prototype. You do this by selecting an area and linking it to another screen. I love using this product. I can make a clickable interactive prototype in minutes using popapp.
The ability to upload PNG files doesn’t work very well yet, but I found a way to use it by saving attachments from my email to the camera roll/library. Then I can access them via Popapp. According to their FAQ they are adding in a better way to do that. I’ve also written them an email advising them to hurry up as well as its a much needed feature!
Its free to use for 20 projects if you select the early bird icon in paid plans section. They do plan to introduce paid plans in the future.
Also check out this product https://moqups.com. Its a HTML5 tool to do wireframing. Its very lightweight. I use it almost every day and its very good. It has screens for mobile apps as well as widgets, buttons, icons.
Its easier to use than Balsamiq, Omnigraffle, Visio etc… I didn’t hesitate to upgrade to the paid version. They rolled out a bunch of new features a few months ago, including the ability to collaborate which was sorely needed. Its free to use for 2 active projects.