This interview with Benedict Wong was conducted and condensed by Selena Li of EntrepreneurHK.
Bindo, a Hong Kong and New York-based startup, raised US$1.8M in seed funding. We talk to Jason Ngan, Bindo’s Co-founder, about building a fundable startup.
1. When did you launch Bindo?
2. How much time did it take from the time you decided to build it to the time you actually launched the business?
Just a few months. Our team is super efficient, motivated, and we barely sleep!
3. Usually when companies build products, by the time they launch, the products are a little, if not a lot, out of touch with the audience. How much of what you launched was out of touch with what the audience really needed?
Actually, it was pretty close to what they needed as we did thorough research beforehand, spoke to a lot of customers, and really understood their needs. However, we did find out that they needed a lot more features than what we initially expected. That’s why we’re constantly working on building new features and, to be frank, that’s what sets us apart from our competitors- we’re always upgrading our product to make it better.
4. How did you get your first customer?
Cold calling. It’s always difficult to cold-call your first customer but in the end, we pulled through.
5. How hard was it to convince traditional retailers to integrate your tech product into their business?
Very, very hard. It’s always very hard to convince traditional retailers to try something new. But in the end, we got them to see what kind of difference our product can make to their business and they were truly amazed. Our product spoke for itself in the end and that’s how we got them to integrate Bindo POS into their business.
6. Were there ever any features/functions that you’ve built and had to take back out? Like what? Give us an example of something that in retrospect would make you say, ‘What were you even thinking?’
There weren’t any features or functions that we’ve built and had to take back out. We’ve pretty much pinpointed what our customers want after speaking to many of them beforehand and doing our research. The only thing is that we didn’t build enough features and now have a lot of features requests. Of course, each feature is specific to each type of business so we have to prioritize them and decide what features to build first. We have a very large product roadmap that we’re working on. I’m sure our competitors get the same requests.
7. Give us 5 key startup lessons for someone who wants to launch an e-commerce + POS (Point Of Sale) business.
1. Know (and listen to) your customers: I know this KYC is probably common sense but people often have a perception of what their customers are thinking without really digging deep and finding out. This is essential to your business.
2. Know how to face rejection: It’s very hard to get traditional brick and mortar businesses to change the way they do business. So be prepared to face rejection. In the end, if you have enough confidence in your product and if your product is really something that will help your customers, you’ll come through.
3. Don’t do everything at once: When you launch, you should start with a solid foundation before you add a billion other things to your product. Test your basic product there and change along with what the consumers want. Don’t assume you know everything from the beginning.
4. Be sure the passion is there: You probably hear this everywhere but you really need to be sure the passion is there or else you’ll give up quickly. It’s not going to be an easy ride but your passion for your product will get you through it.
5. Don’t assume people will just find your product: No matter how good your product is, if you don’t have a way for people to find your site or product, they never will. Don’t underestimate the power of marketing and PR.
8. Last question: what does “Bindo” mean and how did you come up with that name?
It’s just a real cool name that is easy to remember. It means “Where” in Hong Kong and sounds a bit like “Flipping the Table” in Taiwanese- which we are doing: we’re “flipping the table” on retail and changing up the way retailers sell by totally integrating online to offline shopping.