We Created A $2.4M/Yr Social Commerce Messaging [From Hong Kong] –

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Good day! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

Hello there! I’m Henson Tsai, the Founding father of SleekFlow. I come from Hong Kong, and I began the enterprise greater than two years in the past to faucet the potential of social messaging in companies. We began with a crew of three, together with me. Now we’ve 20 extra workers members throughout two areas. We now have simply been backed by Alibaba, lately ending our Pre-A fundraising.

A quick introduction about SleekFlow’s product

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SleekFlow options an omnichannel social commerce platform that permits full conversational journeys throughout SMS, reside chat on web sites, widespread social and messaging corresponding to WhatsApp, Fb, and Instagram, or no matter your clients choose.

We use sensible routing guidelines and focused marketing campaign messages to streamline gross sales, buyer help, and advertising workflows whereas integrating with 2500+ instruments, together with eCommerce platforms and fee gateways, to automate the entire buyer journey with ease. (We now have simply launched our model new Shopify integration! So excited to up the eCommerce sport for our clients!)

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All these channels into one SleekFlow App

SleekFlow lays a stepping stone to success for companies starting from start-ups to medium-and-large enterprises corresponding to Lalamove, a logistic unicorn, Chow Tai Fook, a number one jewellery retailer, and different listed firms in Hong Kong plus different areas. It’s extremely really useful to the tertiary business, during which the communications between clients and workers will be centralized in an all-in-one platform.

We aimed to streamline the communication workflow and enhance chat transparency for the group. Now’s the very best second to grab the chance as a result of rising mobile-first conduct and the rising prevalence of social commerce.

Listed here are a few of our highlighted options

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All-in-one inbox options

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Personalize your advertising marketing campaign by WhatsApp

What’s your backstory and the way did you give you the thought?

I’ve at all times wished to be an entrepreneur since I used to be younger. Again in school, I bought an opportunity to affix a start-up competitors with my classmates. This confirmed my will to start out a enterprise by myself at some point. After commencement, I labored for EY and HSBC funding financial institution division for a while to avoid wasting more cash. I managed to work as a full-time white-collar employee whereas writing enterprise proposals, pondering of potential enterprise concepts at night time.

My expertise in failing two start-ups fueled the expansion of SleekFlow

SleekFlow, this social commerce platform, wasn’t my first enterprise concept. My first concept was a takeaway cell app as I noticed the hole within the takeaway market. My resolution was specializing in takeaway with out offering a supply service. Meaning you ordered by your app after which picked up the meal by yourself whereas having fun with a beneficiant low cost supplied by us. The enterprise couldn’t maintain itself, and it ended after half a yr as a result of the takeaway market in Hong Kong was already overcrowded.

I therefore twisted the App concept and tried to create an all-in-one communication app tailor-made for lodges. We joined RISE, a world exhibition for start-ups. RISE was the place I noticed my second concept wouldn’t work both as I lastly bought the prospect to speak to the potential clients instantly. There have been no inquiries from lodges, whereas many had been from folks within the eCommerce and retail sector. So right here comes the thought of SleekFlow. Our all-in-one app will probably be a proper match to streamline workflow for these clients-facing industries.

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The primary 3 members of SleekFlow. Me and my two builders

What I realized is, market suggestions is significant whenever you attempt to develop a product and it’s OK in case your first concept isn’t good. You’ll be able to refine, and you’ll change into higher.

Take us by the method of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

As I stated, the primary product is sort of totally different from what we’ve now. At first, my audience was resort teams. We deliberate to assist their concierge. I nonetheless keep in mind receiving no inquiry from any resort teams, however I didn’t cease there. It merely impressed me to tweak my pondering that in all probability an eCommerce resolution is a option to go. Our crew, principally simply me and my 2 very first builders, made greater than 100 chilly calls the following day. We merely LinkedIn these folks within the e-Commerce discipline and did a main survey.

So 4 months later, we bought our prototype of SleekFlow utilizing Flutter. One other 2-3 months later, we launched the beta.

Again then, as a consequence of restricted sources, we couldn’t simply do the testing by the inner crew. We’re particularly grateful for our early purchasers. They indicated some flaws within the Beta and we’d simply repair them in a single day. However now we improved and our crew grew. We have arrange the automated testing circulation. That is a part of the start-up journey. Affected person clients are your finest mentors and your finest teammates.

We’re nonetheless receiving suggestions from clients to enhance our product alongside the way in which, so I’d by no means say the product is last. It may at all times be higher.

How I prioritize which characteristic comes first

In a lean start-up with restricted sources, prioritization is significant. We’d prioritize the requests based on the purpose of the duty. For example, it’s a must to ask your self, is that for retention or a brand new acquisition. A ok characteristic to make current clients happier is retention. A model new perform out of the present scope is likely to be for a current acquisition. New acquisition vs. retention, that’s how we attempt to stability.

Discover out your area of interest benefit as the place to begin after which hold selling and increasing on that.

We additionally preserve a buyer suggestions log the place clients can submit characteristic requests and vote for them. It isn’t stunning to say that 80% of our present options are clients’ strategies. Establishing an efficient suggestions loop is how you need to develop your product, particularly a SaaS product. We created the suggestions kind through Canny.

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

Every thing began with a lunch occasion held by Cyberport, a Hong Kong-based incubator. Being an incubatee, we’ve bought the funding, workplace low cost, and different community help. Then I employed the fourth member, who was a advertising individual and in addition a former start-up founder. With 4 laptops, 4 folks, we’ve simply labored alongside the way in which.

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SleekFlow first 4 members, Crystal, Henson, Peter and Paul

Like each start-up founder, I’ve to do every part by myself, from designing the WordPress pages to prioritizing options for our core product. You’re the CEO, and you might be additionally the janitor. I nonetheless keep in mind I’ve to arrange the search engine optimisation plan rigorously, selecting the key phrases by myself. It was a hands-on course of earlier than I may afford to rent extra folks.

First, we developed a key phrase pool with round 150 key phrases. Each Chinese language and English. Chinese language is much less aggressive when put next with English. Our preliminary purpose was to realize site visitors, the key phrase is likely to be extra normal issues about social commerce.

We developed primarily based on the channels we had, corresponding to WhatsApp, WeChat, and so forth.

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That is how our outdated web site appears to be like

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That is how our new web site appears to be like

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain clients?

Our first step of promoting was utilizing search engine optimisation technique since we’re a SaaS platform. We wrote blogs and struggled to look on the SERPs.

At the moment, we additionally leveraged a authorities grant which aimed to assist SMEs to buy software program or {hardware} for digital transformation. We had a advertising marketing campaign to advertise that grant plus our merchandise. We now have acquired fairly some customers.

To retain clients, I employed one other two very devoted and passionate people to kind our buyer success crew, establishing a caring and efficient onboarding course of as our software program isn’t low-touch SaaS. It requires schooling for patrons earlier than they’ll absolutely unleash the facility of our platform.

How are you doing as we speak and what does the longer term appear like?

So on this yr, we’ve helped SMEs in digital transformation amid the pandemics. We now have simply received round 5000 customers throughout 20+ international locations, hitting the annual recurring income of 7-digit USD.

Don’t restrict your self to your present constraints. Don’t be afraid to hunt recommendation. It’s stunning however generally, whenever you LinkedIn message folks, they may genuinely share their insights.

So we’ve simply arrange a Singapore workplace led by a rustic supervisor accountable for the SEA area. We place confidence in the total potential of our social messaging platform, particularly for eCommerce, which I consider is a thriving business in SEA. Then we aimed to faucet into one other new market, in all probability in Europe.

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Via beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something significantly useful or advantageous?

KNOW YOUR MARKET.

You need to perceive the market dimension, the market conduct. You’ll be able to simply develop a prototype first and let folks do this Beta. You need to obtain suggestions consistently. You don’t need to make an all-around product, however as a substitute, you need to discover out your area of interest benefit as the place to begin after which hold selling and increasing on that. For instance, on the very starting, the one message we carried for our clients is “now you’ll be able to have a number of logins.

What platform/instruments do you employ for your small business?

We’re a SaaS enterprise, and we additionally make the most of many different SaaS.

For CRM, corresponding to consolidating WhatsApp and Fb messages, we use our platform. Via which we will consolidate all of the social messaging channels into one app. All social messaging actions are tracked, corresponding to the common response time, no. of recent customers, and so forth.

For mission administration, we’ve Asana. For inside communication, we use Slack. For managing human resources-related points corresponding to go away functions, we use Talenox. For all of the gross sales actions monitoring, we use Hubspot plus our curated platform. For search engine optimisation, we use Semrush, Google analytics, and Google search console. We now have additionally lately constructed an inside “SleekFlow Wikipedia” through notion. We use notion as our information base so new joiners can navigate the platform to get all the data they want. Every division is accountable for sustaining their information base on Notion too.

What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different sources?

It’s at all times good to take references from the very best function mannequin within the business. However it doesn’t need to be the identical sort of enterprise as yours. For instance, we take reference of profitable B2B startups; it doesn’t need to be CRM-related. It may be these native B2B unicorns. Take a look at their technique utilizing Comparable Internet.

Moreover, I get pleasure from listening to podcasts and sustaining a studying behavior. 20 minutes a day may make a distinction. Some podcasts are 5-minute lengthy, which you’ll be able to take heed to throughout your drive to work. For instance, the Advertising and marketing College by Neil Patel and Eric Siu. One guide I’d suggest for individuals who pre-founder is Excessive Output Administration.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?

I’d say use low sources to make a minimal viable product first. And there are numerous sources on the market so that you can seize without cost. Helpful podcasts sharing insights by business specialists is also inspiring. Don’t restrict your self to your present constraints. Don’t be afraid to hunt recommendation. It’s stunning however generally, whenever you LinkedIn message folks, they may genuinely share their insights. Becoming a member of an incubation program like mine can be begin too. You’ll be able to thereby get tangible sources plus business networking. What it’s a must to do is simply write a proposal and battle by a sequence of interviews. However belief me, an incubation program is the best stepping stone a inexperienced entrepreneur can get.

Are you trying to rent for sure positions proper now?

YES! YES! YES!

Since we hold increasing we welcome new joiners each week now. As we increase our companies abroad, we search for abilities for various areas throughout gross sales, product, and analytic folks. Please try our LinkedIn job advertisements web page.

The place can we go to be taught extra?

Please try our web site sleekflow.io! (We now have simply revamped it in November, and it’s a model new identification!)

Wish to be taught extra about WhatsApp Enterprise API or our Stay Chat options?

Take a look at the blogs beneath.

Please go to our LinkedIn and YouTube, the place we consistently replace tendencies about social commerce and essentially the most exceptional new product options!

Any ideas about my story? Be happy to put in writing to [email protected]


 

Henson Tsai
 
Founding father of SleekFlow

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