Interview with Zowedo: One platform for your lifestyle needs
Want to learn how to bake and cook? Or are you looking for a reliable handyman to service your air conditioners? Whatever lifestyle services you are looking for, there’s now a website called Zowedo that provides you options to fulfil your needs.
“But, can trust or not?”
As Singaporeans, we know that this would be one of the early questions that we will have on new businesses. So we checked in with the CEO and Co-founder of Zowedo, Antoine Nicole to find out more about the online platform, how it all got started, where its name come from and more.
Why Zowedo? How did the name come about?
Zowedo is a name inspired by our vision to create a community of service providers (“so we do”) and for customers to live life doing the things you love.
How did you guys come up with this idea?
As a dual income household with children, I am constantly busy having to organise the home and do activities with the kids. I found that home maintenance services like as aircon servicing or swimming lessons are not well represented online. There are a lot of classified ads on different websites, but it’s pretty opaque and you still had to call the service provider to get more information and negotiate a price. I was not able to compare different offers or book online.
In the internet age, consumers can purchase anything online – fashion, electronics, groceries, food delivery, taxi, etc., however, there isn’t a website where you can find a variety of services an individual would need, book an appointment and pay for it online instantly. We identified personal, lifestyle and home service industry as an opportunity and developed Zowedo with our proprietary Dynamic Scheduler to address the problem faced by many individuals.
What were you guys doing before Zowedo?
From the inception I wanted my co-founders to bring complementary skills to Zowedo.
Abhinay, our CTO – brought all the tech know-how, product development and managing the tech team. He has over 14 years of experience on systems, software and architecture for the web. He has previously worked for Oracle, Cognizant, TATA AIA.
Martin, our CMO – has a long career in marketing and understands digital consumer journeys. He has over 20 years of marketing and consulting experience in various industries including broadcasting, advertising, publishing, IT and management consulting.
I used to work for Apple as a project manager for Applecare, the customer service and support branch of Apple. I have a lot of experience in project management, process reengineering and operations.
What were the difficulties you faced and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge is to balance supply and demand. We need to attract vendors, then customers. However, attracting customer is tough if the service offer is small. We may not have enough choice in term of service, price, schedule, location for the customer visiting our marketplace. And without customers, vendors won’t continue working with us.
It’s a matter of scale and generating awareness. We’re still a young company and have a pretty steep learning curve to dynamically move the business forward and drive more customers to use the Zowedo platform.
Why did you choose Singapore as your first market?
Singapore is a great choice to launch a startup thanks to the existing ecosystem favouring innovation and business creation. The demand for services is also very strong here, so it was an excellent opportunity for us to test the market before taking the Zowedo to other cities in the region.
Can you share with us what types of services Singaporeans can expect to find on Zowedo?
There are five main categories of services that a typical person or family might need, and these are:
- Home services – cleaning, aircon servicing, plumbing;
- Learning – academic, professional, painting, baking and cooking, photography lessons;
- Lifestyle – beauty, kids activities, entertainment and celebration;
- Health & Fitness – yoga, fitness coach, swimming, tennis, massage; and
- Experience – Fun activities, tours, culture.
How’s the take-up rate so far on your website and what are the top three services that Singaporeans seek?
We are seeing a strong response from vendors showcasing over 500 services on Zowedo with a simple solution for micro businesses to join the digital economy. We are seeing strong demand for home services such as cleaning aircon maintenance, baking and cooking classes are pretty popular as are fitness programs.
Fake reviews are swarming around many e-commerce sites. How does Zowedo weed these fake reviews out so that consumers trust what’s on the site?
Only customers who have booked and completed a service are allowed to rate a vendor and write a review. Services industry is all about trust. You are hiring someone that will come to your home or teach your kids, so ratings and reviews are key for customers to make an informed decision when booking a service. So we will be very careful to ensure all reviews given are real.
Now that Zowedo has officially launched, what’s the next step?
Our priority now is to grow Singapore, to increase our service offer and make it relevant and useful for customers. We will also deliver additional features this year to improve the user experience of our partners. We have to make it very simple for vendors to accept online booking and manage their schedule. We will also prepare our first overseas expansion in