In this episode, we had the opportunity to have a chat with Clarence Leong, founder of Penang-based EasyParcel – the online comparison site for parcel delivery across multiple countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Prior to launching EasyParcel, Clarence had already launched — and shut down — two platforms, EziVoucher and EasyCorner. So we asked Clarence to share the insights and lessons he gained from these experiences.
One of Clarence’s most notable achievements is that, despite having to go through two relatively short-lived ventures, he managed to retain his core team.
EziVoucher (an online Groupon purchase platform)
EziVoucher had to be shut down because of Groupon’s foray into Malaysian market, playing a zero-sum game that forced smaller startups like EziVoucher, which did not have any funding back then, to bleed out easily. Clarence shared his 2 key learnings here: communication with the team, efficient management of a founder’s role.
He told us that it’s never an easy thing for a founder to share bad news with employees. He believes that every employee should know the “good and bad” of the company so that there will not be any “surprises” that will bring them down. He chose to be open to the employees before shutting it down and encouraged all of them to work on the next project (EasyCorner) instead of giving up.
When running EziVoucher, he also understood the importance of allocating resources effectively i.e. time. He was the ‘Chief Everything Officer’, doing everything from cleaning up the toilet to managing all the salary payment and tax. Upon reflection, he thinks that instead of saving money outsourcing these admin and manual tasks, a founder/entrepreneur should put more focus on high-impact and high-value work that can grow the company.
EasyCorner (a magazine publisher)
The team then shifted their focus to EasyCorner while waiting for EasyCorner’s platform to be ready. We were amazed at how Clarence managed to bring the team together while they work on two companies with different ideas and workflow simultaneously.
He told us the key learning here is team bonding. As they have worked together closely for the past, the team understands each other and shares the same values. They understand that running EasyCorner is a transitional period for them to roll out EasyParcel. With the open communication and strong teamwork, they can save time on too many explanations and move fast, grow fast.
After 7 years of experimenting building companies, Clarence had the same team with him, moving from offline to online. “Having a good team is the key to success in business,” he said.
Looking back, EasyParcel’s business model will be more replicable in other markets compared to his previous ventures as it involves less offline work (which is more difficult to scale).
Lastly, Clarence ended the conversation with us by giving sound advice to all the millennial entrepreneurs who would like to build their own startups. Every entrepreneur should ask themselves these questions:
- How persistent can you be?
- How strong can your heart be?
- What is your bottom line?
Having ideas is not good enough unless you’re persistent enough to go through the process of seeing your ideas realised.
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