ACE Startup Feature – SOL59
The Need for Speed
IT consulting startup SOL59 is all about speed when it comes to solutions development and deployment but founder Sim Kwang Wei also knows when to hit the brakes.
When we caught up with Sim Kwang Wei, founder of SOL59, the first question we asked was about the startup’s interesting name. And from the get-go, we knew this guy was all about speed.
“It’s ‘SOL’ for solutions plus ‘59’, which is under one minute, or 60 seconds,” explained Kwang Wei. The thinking behind the name represents his vision for the company — delivering fast, simple and scalable IT solutions that contribute to the productivity drive.
But while he registered the company in 2014, just months before receiving his NUS business degree, the self-taught developer admits that he didn’t have a clear direction for SOL59. So he hit the brakes.
Kwang Wei joined a telephony solutions company and handled several projects involving customised Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. He developed an interest in the field and saw, first-hand, how clusters of small businesses were underserved by off-the-shelf solutions in the market.
“Given the way POS systems are typically designed, they are unable to handle the unique needs of certain businesses. Take spas and hair salons that offer packages, for example. A standard POS system can’t help them track package usage; a customised one would, but this could be cost prohibitive, especially to small businesses,” said Kwang Wei.
Inspired, he left full-time employment after nine months and returned to SOL59 with a new direction. He poured himself into developing a POS system that he would later name Motra — and which would, in late 2016, earn SOL59 the Best Startup Award at the inaugural IRAS Hackathon.
“Motra is a modularised POS system that allows businesses to pick and choose the right modules for their needs,” explained Kwang Wei, which essentially means that the client takes control of the customisation process. This, to SOL59, is the way of the future.
“Right now, we’re pursuing several growth areas. The first is to scale up Motra’s market presence in Singapore and across the region. We’re talking to local partners, reaching out potential channel partners in Malaysia and Thailand and sourcing for reliable hardware suppliers in China to ensure that our supply chain is solid,” he shared. While the latter may not sound congruent with SOL59’s solutions based business, Kwang Wei clarifies that, as a one-stop provider, they offer their clients related hardware and even value-added services like business analytics.
“At the same time, we’re also exploring a shift to a freemium revenue model,” said the young entrepreneur. “This means making basic POS hardware and software available for free, while charging for add-ons.”
These are exciting ideas and it’s tempting to race ahead but Kwang Wei is well aware that timing is key: “I believe that entrepreneurs need persistence and perseverance but it’s just as important to bide your time if the market, or your product, isn’t ready.”
Meet Kwang Wei and the SOL59 team at Seamless Asia 2017, a digital payment and e-commerce tradeshow that’s happening on 19 and 20 April in Singapore. You can also learn more about the startup at https://sol59.com.
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