Co-founder of Fave Yeoh Chen Chow (pictured) is constantly striving to drive Southeast Asian countries to grow the digital landscape towards a cashless society. Prior to starting Fave, Yeoh led regional operations for Groupon Asia Pacific. He also worked at JobStreet.com and Accenture.
Apart from building Fave, Yeoh is actively involved in the Malaysian start-up ecosystem, supporting young entrepreneurs through mentoring and being an angel investor to 10 startups as well. Yeoh shares with A+M how he overcame his biggest tech blunder and digital trends that he is most excited about today.
(Check out the previous editions of Tech in check here: QSR Brands’ chief information officer Chong Chin Kan; Digi’s chief digital officer Praveen Rajan; Hong Leong Bank’s chief digital and innovation officer Shailesh Grover; and McDonald’s Malaysia digital director Muhamad Zaid Hasman)
A+M: What was your first digital role like?
Yeoh: I was a product manager at JobStreet.com. It was a huge learning curve for me as I was previously a management consultant and I was used to looking at Excel sheets and PowerPoint presentations.
At JobStreet.com, I was part of the design and roll out process of several key products such as PitchYourTalent.com, JobStreet English Language Assessment, JobStreet Resume Assessment, JobStreet Interview Assessment, Standout Listing and the JobStreet Forum for Career and Education.
Looking back at my time at JobStreet, I feel very fortunate to have played a small part in what I would call one of Malaysia’s successful tech companies (it sold to Seek Asia for over RM1 billion in 2014)
A+M: What was your biggest tech blunder?
Yeoh: In the early days of Fave, we launched what we thought would be a game-changing feature called Fave Chat. The idea behind Fave Chat was that we would make the Fave app more social by getting users to discuss what they would like to do, eat or even recommend to their friends and family members about the great deals they see on Fave.
Instead, what we saw was only employees using Fave Chat and barely anybody else outside of the company using it. It was hard to get users to move away from well-established messaging apps such as WhatsApp. Rather than recognising that the product we built was not what our consumers wanted, we continued to push it for an additional few months before finally killing off the feature.
A+M: How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
Yeoh: After realising that Fave Chat had limited traction, we decided to go back to the drawing board and started by asking what problems are out there and how can we solve them. We spoke to our users and merchants, analyse their usage behaviours and that’s where we launched what is now known as FavePay. At the end of the day, we believe that failure is some way or form is inevitable.
You just have to fail fast and learn fast.
A+M: What are some of the common challenges you face with digital today?
Yeoh: One of the advantages of going digital is that you now have access to data and this is also one of the biggest challenges out there. The distinction between what is important and what is noise is a very fine line and digital marketers need to be aware of this.
A+M: Are there any digital trends which excite you or that you are wary of?
Yeoh: Over the last year, we have seen the rise of mobile payments and that to us is one of the most exciting digital trends to take place. While mobile payments have been around for quite sometime in China and India, it was not until the start of this year that we began to see it take off in Southeast Asia.
At Fave, we have our mobile payments product as well called FavePay and when we first started in 2017, we faced a challenge convincing merchants to accept payments. However, now we are accepted at over 5,000 outlets across the region with brands such as Starbucks Malaysia, Victoria Station, Subway Singapore, Gong Cha Singapore and many others.
We managed to overcome this challenge by understanding our merchants wants and needs. Beyond just providing them a convenient cashless platform, merchants told us that loyalty was a big issue for them among consumers. Hence, we introduced a cashback feature that would allow them to reward their consumers with cashback exclusive to their brand to encourage consumers to come back regularly.
To top it off, governments across Southeast Asia are now making a big push for their countries to go cashless. Hence, we see this as the upcoming digital trend to look out for.
A+M: Any tips for top marketers and brands embracing digital?
Yeoh: Marketing is all about getting your consumers attention because if you have their attention, then the game is yours for the taking. That’s why whenever people tell me that billboards still work because there are a lot of people driving, I would argue that while there are plenty of drivers today, most of them are looking at their phones than looking at the road.
Also, take a second to try and remember the last time you saw a billboard of a company and took an action like downloading the brand’s application. That said, it’s important to understand who your consumer is. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy.
The best part about embracing digital is that you as a marketer will have access to tons of actionable data and insights that was never available to the traditional marketer.
These actionable data and insights, if used correctly, will make your marketing plans far more relevant and targeted which in turn will lead to better results.
A+M: Any takeaways about the Malaysia market that you will carry with you?
Yeoh: Malaysian consumers are becoming a mobile-first community. Everything from checking emails to using Facebook, they do it from their mobiles first. Hence, for any brand looking to go digital, should consider how they can reach a mobile-first consumer.