Grown from the idea of a student entrepreneur, home improvement startup BuildEasy was officially launched in November 2015.
That student was Tan Yong Meng, founder and CEO of the company. In a recent catch up session with him, he revealed that 2019 was by far the most eye opening year for BuildEasy.
Among one of the biggest changes they made to the business came with the birth of PropEasy, their property ownership arm, which was simply a natural vertical integration of their existing offerings, he added.
“Together with BuildEasy, we wish to transform property ownership through our 360-degree approach and O2O (online-to-offline) model, bringing transparency and curated choices to property buyers who wish to invest in SouthEast Asia.”
Branching out to progress
This means that they had to make a subtle change to their approach and open up 2 different teams: One for their usual B2C approach which focuses heavily on the residential segment, and the other to work on PropEasy.
With his experience thus far in the home renovation scene, Yong Meng was able to share some observations.
“We’ve come to see the trend that consumers will select a service provider that can provide a holistic and integrated solution.”
“Remaining within your own area of expertise will not be enough in this current challenging and competitive landscape, hence the reason why we decided to expand our offerings with PropEasy,” he said.
As they continue to actively observe industry trends, he predicted that the concept of ‘healthy & home living’ will be more prioritized post-MCO (Movement Control Order in Malaysia).
While cost-effective, impactful interior design and convenient solutions are preferred now, BuildEasy is moving beyond that to offer more value added and thoughtful solutions to their consumers.
Nowadays, however, there are so many other home renovation solutions that are available to Malaysians on platforms like Recommend.my and Kaodim, for example.
One can also just book these service providers based on their portfolio preferences, so how then does BuildEasy make itself stand out?
“There is no one size fits all, and I believe that the platform model and integrated solutions providers have their respective advantages and disadvantages,” he answered.
Keeping It lean
BuildEasy is therefore a lot more involved in the customer journey from start to finish, which Yong Meng believes is crucial in a startup’s longevity.
“If there’s one thing that we’re seeing of the ‘new’ world nowadays, seeing more unicorns and startups start to have massive layoffs and losses, staying cash flow positive and not having a high burn rate seem to be the keywords in survival now.”
But having not raised any funding yet, cash flow is, and will always remain, BuildEasy’s biggest challenge.
“Due to that, we have to always remain financially disciplined which means that many of us need to wear 2 or 3 hats instead of having a dedicated teammate for a specific role or skillset,” Yong Meng said.
“Now that we have expanded to Vietnam, and hopefully Jakarta coming up in a few months, managing a diverse team will bring about language and cultural barriers.”
Post-MCO, he foresees the fact that every company will need to re-strategize for the future due to uncertainties as one of BuildEasy’s biggest challenges as well.
Nonetheless, they will be moving forward with plans to further integrate BuildEasy and PropEasy to serve both property developers and consumers from pre-sales to post-sales.
Pre-MCO, their extended sales team in 10 different countries was bringing in over 50 foreign clients in Malaysia per month.
The arrival of COVID-19, however, has created some difficulties for BuildEasy. With the inability to do much work nowadays due to the nature of their work, BuildEasy decided to turn their attention to something else for the meantime.
One of the things they did was hold a corporate-startup collaboration between myNEWS, BuildEasy and PropEasy.
They distributed food and coffee to frontliners from myNEWS’ Maru line to medical teams and other support teams like cleaners and the police force at University Malaya Hospital.
BuildEasy is also currently in further discussions with not only myNEWS to carry out more initiatives of this sort, but also with various other corporations.
“This MCO has taught us to value life and appreciate those around us, despite the fact that we are losing money, it’s been a refreshing ‘break’ from our everyday hustle and bustle,” Yong Meng concluded.
This article first appeared in the Vulcan Post.