ACE Startup Feature – Agentbong
Connecting the Dots
Agentbong, a homecare solutions startup that serves the Hong Kong and Singapore market, is a picture of success hand-drawn by two technologists with a shared dream.
If you’ve taken a creative art class before, you’d know what it means to be given a sheet of paper with a bunch of dots — it’s an exercise in creativity and self-expression; to take seemingly unrelated dots and connect them into a picture. The guys behind Agentbong, a startup offering homecare solutions in Hong Kong and Singapore, would have aced that class.
These were their dots: an entrepreneurial dream, a desire to make a difference in people’s lives, and an eye for market trends.
Co-founder Sam Ng, explains: “We are technologists who wanted to create something of our own, something with social impact. We saw a rise in the gig economy, with more people looking for freelance and part-time work so, initially, we developed a job platform to help these people. But we came to realise that it was too broad. As a young startup with limited resources, we needed to focus — to find a niche in the market. Cities like Hong Kong and Singapore are filled with urban professionals struggling to balance the demands of work and family. We believe that they would benefit from on-demand homecare solutions and our market research supported this.”
This led them to refine their business idea and create Agentbong, an app that connects experienced, local part-time helpers with customers who need house cleaning, babysitting, elderly care and cooking. The ‘bong’ in Agentbong means help (?) in Cantonese. It was piloted in Hong Kong in 2015 and officially launched in both Hong Kong and Singapore in January 2016.
Sam, who had earlier left a full-time job in Australia to pursue his entrepreneurial dream in Hong Kong, has since packed up his family once again — this time for Singapore.
“I think it’s important to immerse myself in the markets that we serve, so as to better understand the local landscape from both the helpers’ and customers’ point of view,” he explained.
“While Singapore is similar to Hong Kong in some ways, it is also unique in others. Given the multi-cultural society here, we had to refine our matching engine to take into consideration the diversity of spoken languages, for example.”
Sam also points out there is also an absence of accepted standards or qualifications for homecare providers in Singapore — unlike in Hong Kong, which has an official training and accreditation process. To bring at least part of this professionalisation to Singapore, Agentbong has developed an orientation programme to ensure that local homecare helpers have a set of processes and procedures to guide their work. This also allows the startup to ensure consistent service quality.
In just over a year, Agentbong has amassed over 70,000 users and facilitated more than 100,000 hours of service time. So is it any wonder that it recently won the Startup of the Year Award 2017 from the world’s largest startup community? Agentbong beat over 6,000 other startups from across 80 countries to bag the highly coveted accolade at Startup Grind 2017, a global conference in California, USA.
To learn what the buzz is about, head on over to www.agentbong.com.sg and be inspired!
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