Rhonda and Race Wong, two siblings, founded Ohmyhome in September 2016 for property owners and renters in Singapore to connect with each other. Using the app, anyone in the city-state can buy, sell, or lease flats issued by the Housing Development Board without using middlemen. Ohmyhome charges lower fees than real estate agents, and provides its users with a step-by-step guide for managing the entire process by themselves.
To kick off a new series by KrASIA that visits startup founders in Southeast Asia to tell the origins of their companies, we reached out to the Wongs to learn about the early days of Ohmyhome, specifically asking about what they did right and, more importantly, one mistake that they had to remedy.
What are two good choices that you made during the nascence of your company?
Rhonda: We started the company to be each other’s co-founder. A startup’s journey is filled with more hiccups than happy moments. It has been extremely helpful to have one another as support. It makes the challenging times manageable while celebrations are twice as sweet.
Race: We launched a minimum viable product so we could perfect it as we grow. Striving for perfection can be a neverending cycle, so we took this route to market and improve Ohmyhome based on feedback and case studies. Improvements and innovation are constants at Ohmyhome.
What was one misstep that you had to overcome?
Rhonda: During our first few months, we didn’t know how many users would sign up, so we were conservative with hiring in-house real estate agents. When the first flood of customers came, we were completely overjoyed—but at the same time overwhelmed. We worked tirelessly to meet the demand because the last thing we wanted was to turn away customers or disappoint them. Fortunately, we were able to scale up our team of agents within a few months.
Race: We miscalculated the amount of resources required to run the company, in particular the cost of marketing as well as the manpower required in the front-line service, operations, as well as the tech team. It was difficult and almost impossible to estimate the traffic and popularity of our product until our official launch. Some experts say that a company should “hire for the future”, but it’s just not possible with the limited resources of a startup. We overcame this challenge with the help of a big group of capable NUS [National University of Singapore] interns who worked with us for three months, instead of bringing in a team of full-timers when we started. During those three months, we were able to figure out the missing pieces and which roles were critical and had to be filled. Until that happened, Rhonda and I had to fill all the gaps and work round the clock.
This article is an entry of “Startup Stories”, a series where KrASIA’s writers speak with the founders of young companies in Southeast Asia.
Editor: Brady Ng