This week, I had the opportunity to meet with up with the founders of Gozo Labs – Xu DaXiang and Quek Shu Yang. On a personal basis, I met Daxiang when I was in Yahoo!. He was with the search marketing team while I was in business operations. DaXiang and Shu Yang met in the NOC programme in Silicon Valley and became good friends.
They started Gozo Labs this year. Gozo Labs has a flagship product named around! It’s a location based mobile application that allows users to scan QR code to unlock privileges and earn loyalty rewards at participating merchants.
Here’s a video on how it works:
Me: Thank you so much for your time and I would like to congratulate both of you because around! has been nominated for the Top 50 Asia Apps. (Click here to vote for around!) around!‘s nomination for the Top 50 Asia Apps has certainly proven that it has gain traction in a short span of time.
So share with us, why leave your full-time jobs and startup your own business?
SY: Daxiang and I met noticed that there are inefficiencies in the existing advertising model for the retail and f&b merchants. Conventional digital advertising charges advertisers on a cost per impression, per click or subscription model but what the merchants really need apart from those eyeballs for branding and awareness is people who walk into their stores to purchase their products. Instead of focusing on our bottom line, our priority is to serve the needs of both the merchants and users by establishing an effective and efficient advertising ecosystem so that they will benefit from being on around!.
Me: What is the difference between begin an employee and employer?
DX: Personally i thought that regardless whether we are employee or employer, we are called to do the best to of our abilities and see how we can serve one another in the best possible manner. Just that right now we are running the team we have to learn to wear multiplies hats such as to serve, to lead and to inspire; gone were the days where we could focus solely on what we enjoy doing and do best.
Me: Will you recommend budding entrepreneurs to work for a few years first or go straight into startups?
DX: it depends. if you have the right experience, skill sets and contacts you can get started anytime and anywhere.
Me: You have quite a big team as compared to most of the startups of similar timeframe. Is there frequent arguments due to the size of the team?
SY: I believe our current team of 5 is optimal for Gozo Labs, because each of us our skill complements the requirement in this startup. We are also good friends and we share the common vision for Gozo Labs. Plus despite the busy schedule, we do hold weekly “round table” session to review our progression and gather feedbacks in the team.
Me: What is your direction for Gozo Labs? And any thoughts of overseas expansion?
DX: Gozo means joy in Spanish, and we set up Gozo Labs with the intent of bringing joy to others, both users and our partners. Definitely overseas expansion is in the timeline but our goal now is to build up the base in Singapore first.
Me: How is your flagship product(around!) performing? And any other new products in the brewing process?
DX: Over the past 10 weeks since we launched we received a lot of feedback on how we can improve the UI and performance of the app and that has been useful to help us keep iterating. As for new features coming up you bet; we are focusinf on technology and user experience more then anytime else. Stay tuned for our new UI in 1 week time.
Me: How are you different from the deal sites in Singapore and LBS application?
SY: We provide long term value for businesses which deal sites are not able to offer and we have built-in customise rewards system that able to effectively retain users. In short, we differentiate ourself through a mixture of location-based promotions. and loyalty rewards.
Me: Lastly and most importantly, How you make money?
DX: By delivering joy :) We have 2 business model for around!. 1. we take a small cut from the merchant upon user’s redemption. 2. we also provide customize loyalty reward system which merchants can use on a pay per use basis. As of current, these revenue models have certainly proven themselves to be working pretty well. :)
As the conversation comes to an end, I went to NUS Arts canteen to grab dinner at my favorite stall <Indonesian Panggang>.
And bootstrapping a startup myself, I think of ways to save and with around! I was able to get a 10% discount for my dinner :) woot #startuplife! Gozo Labs have raised over S$100,000 in funding, including a grant from MDA iJAM and funding support from NUS Venture Support so Budding Entrepreneurs get your ideas cracking!