Born to a family of educators in Bangladesh, Mehedi Hasan Sumon started his career in Malaysia as a software and mobile application developer, then began his startup journey by founding LYL Technology with his wife Looi Yin Lin in 2014. The Kuala Lumpur-based tech company develops customized music and video streaming apps for migrant workers in Malaysia, Singapore, and the Middle East.
As an immigrant himself, Sumon is attentive to the problems faced by the migrant population in Malaysia. He often discussed these matters with his friend AKM Nurol Haq Shamrat, who shared Sumon’s idea of providing simpler and more convenient financial services for those who aren’t as fortunate as they are. In 2016, Sumon and Shamrat founded MyCash Online, a marketplace designed to facilitate payments for unbanked migrants who do not have access to online banking or credit cards to top up their mobile phones, pay utility bills, and make online purchases.
In the last three years, MyCash Online has served over 80,000 customers in Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia. It has facilitated over one million transactions with aggregate value exceeding MYR 1 billion (USD 2.38 million).
KrASIA spoke with Sumon to find out more about MyCash Online, specifically touching upon the good moves that MyCash Online made and a mistake that had to be addressed quickly.
KrASIA (K): What are two good choices that you made during the nascence of your company?
Mehedi Hasan Sumon (S): From day one, we focused on building our own customized platform. It took a long time and lots of effort. But at the end of the day, it proved to be successful. Our platform is robust and very easy to customize. We have connected with many financial institutes, banks, and telcos. Because of our platform’s flexibility, it is very easy to meet the needs of our partners and service providers. It is also very easy for us to meet the needs of our customers.
The second good choice we made is to have a centralized development team that is based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The team is very dedicated and has worked with us from the beginning. They know all the ins and outs of our system, and have given us the flexibility to maintain the quality of the system as well as to ensure very quick service deployment time. Since the team is located in Dhaka, it is also very economically viable for a startup like us.
Kr: What was one misstep that you had to overcome?
S: We were growing very fast in 2018. By then, we already had operations in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia. We registered to start a company in Europe in the same year. However, we did not do our market research well prior to taking the step of expanding internationally. Eventually, we found out that our Bangladesh operation was losing money. After a year of trying to bootstrap out of high operating costs, we had to shut down our operation in Bangladesh and hold our Europe plans. For now, we are focusing on Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia. We have also made some adjustments to our current operation. For example, in the past, we had three different customer service lines for our three markets, but that proved to be very expensive and difficult to manage, so we decided to consolidate the lines to a single number and team, reducing our cost by almost 30% and thereby increasing efficiency.
This article is part of KrASIA’s “Startup Stories” series, where the writers of KrASIA speak with founders of tech companies in Southeast Asia.