Alvin Yap is pumped up about his latest venture Laku6.com. While he dabbled in mobile entertainment with his previous company The Mobile Gamer (TMG), this time he is diving into the field of e-commerce with Laku6, an online retailer for certified used phones.
Currently in beta stage, the startup aims to disrupt the market by providing a service that helps customers get certified used phones at a standardised price. Users have the option to trade their used phones with cash, or to trade-in with another product. As an answer to one-time promotional trade-ins conducted by big brands such as Samsung, Laku6 positions itself as the first entirely online business.
Customers do not have to worry about the quality of their purchase as the retailer comes with a 40-step certification process that ensures all of its phones are in top condition. Buying phones directly from individuals, Laku6 applies the practice of ‘re-commerce’ and it even comes with a 30-day guarantee.
Yap refers to his new venture as “a nicer, online Roxy”, referring to an infamous trade centre for electronic goods in Jakarta.
“Selling your used smartphone can be an intimidating process,” said Yap.
He explains how phone owners usually go to different stores at a trade centre to sell their used phone only to find out that they do not have much to bargain for, with the store owner having the upper hand.
Selling online is also not necessarily an easier process. Yap says that when these owners tried to sell through online marketplaces such as OLX or forums such as Kask.us, the chances of the phone being sold within a week was only 18 to 40 per cent. “More often than not, only seven out of 10 got to sell their phone,” he continued. The negotiation process can also be a hassle, which is why Laku6 sets a transparent and standardised price for every phone it sells.
“The traditional way of selling used phones is based on the fact that the less the customer knows, the better,” Yap says, “We cannot give you more, but we definitely will not give you less. Laku6.com does not offer you the best price, but we focus on making your life easier,” he added.
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The site also aims to make customers’ life better by enabling them to upgrade their life at an affordable price. The business targets a segment which Yap refers to as the ‘emerging middle class’ — young Millennials on their first job who want to move upward from their first phone, but are limited by their budget. “This where you can get an iPhone 5 at only IDR 2,500,000 (US$142),” Yap says.
Launched in June 2015, the company is going to expand to other electronic goods such as washing machines and refrigerators. It is currently being funded through bootstrapping and angel investors. But it expects to secure seed funding in the next two weeks.
Long and winding journey
Yap is widely known for TMG. Like many other pioneering entrepreneurs, he began his journey young.
He was fresh out of army training when he opened his first business selling handset accessories in his home country Singapore, at just 19 years of age. “To me, it has always been about startups, about entrepreneurship. So when I decided to finish my chapter with TMG, instinctively I wanted to start something new,” Yap explains.
Starting out with no university degree and limited experience, Yap credits his success to the mentorship he received from various people throughout his journey. Citing Jeffrey Paine from The Founders Institute as one of his mentors, Yap stresses the importance of learning from failure, though there is also a need to differentiate on the scope and size of the failure.
“As an entrepreneur, you deal with different kinds of failure every day … It is important to learn from your small mistakes, as they add up to become experiences. Take risk, but protect your downside, so it does not kill you,” he elaborates. (Sic)
There was never a single moment of epiphany that started him on the path to serial entrepreneurship; he was moved solely by the motivation to utilise his skill-set and the desire to make a change.
He built Laku6 because he aims to streamline the process of selling used phones and give a better experience to customers. He started TMG because he noticed that unlike Japan, there was no platform for feature phone games in Indonesia.
“If there is something that you believe should exist in the world, that does not exist yet, then you need to make it happen,” he says.
Indonesia: A future giant
Whilst everyone seems to be talking about the future of Indonesia as a highly potential market, Yap perhaps is one who can say with utmost confidence that in the next five years, the nation will be able to grow into a giant of tech industry in Southeast Asia. During his five years as Founder and CEO of TMG, he had experiences in working with local players such as telecommunication giants Indosat and XL Axiata and witnessed the evolution of how Indonesians are using their smartphones.
His confidence in Indonesia particularly lies in the size of its market. “Most foreign companies, when they think of Indonesia, they think only of Senayan City (a high-end mall in South Jakarta, red.). But they are probably wrong because the market is much bigger than that,” says Yap.
Startups need to aim to make it big by beginning at a market that enables them to become so.
“If you can be number one in Indonesia, in terms of sheer size and volume … My bet is that you can also be number one in Thailand, Malaysia, any other Southeast Asian market,” Yap ends.