Small business owners struggle with many things including finding skilled staff, fundraising and inventory management. However for inventory management, now there is a solution. It is not a just another software or any complex system that need more time or higher monthly fee!
EMERGE App is a cloud solution for inventory management which was developed with the focus of for small business owners and their struggles on managing inventory. With its user friendliness and affordability, Emerge App provides great solutions for startups and small businesses in keeping inventory in track with easy and simple steps.
We had the opportunity to talk with the founder of EMERGE App, Benjamin Yee who is a young entrepreneur from Singapore. In this interview he shares how he developed the EMERGE App and the struggles he faced as an entrepreneur. If you are an emerging entrepreneur, this interview with Benjamin Yee will inspire you!
Q1. For those who don’t know you, let us know who is Benjamin Yee?
I’m a young entrepreneur from Singapore, a bustling city and country in South-East Asia. Like many of you, I don’t like doing things the conventional way! While studying for my diploma I was itching to make money — I didn’t want to rely on anybody for handouts. By then, I already knew what I wanted to do and that was not to work for anybody.
Otherwise, outside of work I like to travel solo to off-the-beaten track places. The more isolated and offbeat, the better! Exotic food works for me, too. I like riding scooters and motorbikes and my most recent adventure was biking around Vietnam in the wet monsoon season. It was dangerous with landslides, floods and all. Funny, I seem to always get WiFi in remote areas and this lets me keep an eye on my businesses wherever I might be.
Q2. Why did you decide to create EMERGE App?
I didn’t set out to start a cloud-based software company from the start. I didn’t join hackathons, startup competitions or anything like that to find the Next Big Thing in software.
EMERGE App actually was born from a desperate need to get my inventory in order when I ran a custom t-shirt printing business back in school. Back in those younger and naive days I was itching to run a business and make some money. Since I had no budget for software, I used spreadsheets to manage my business. But in no time I had multiple copies of my spreadsheets saved locally and all over the cloud.
It worked OK in the beginning but then I started to forget to invoice my customers. Orders were coming in faster than we could fulfil them. T-shirts in all sorts of designs, colours and sizes were being overstocked. My money was increasingly being tied up in stock. It wasn’t a good time as I spent hours solving issues in operations rather than selling or following-up with repeat customers.
I then looked at some inventory management solutions out there but they were too expensive, too complicated or didn’t have the features that we needed yesterday. So I decided to build one instead. Along the way we thought that other small and medium-sized businesses dealing in inventory must surely face the same problems as us?
So we spun out our in-house inventory management solution and called it EMERGE App. We wanted other businesses to emerge from whatever they were doing in the past to manage their inventories and embrace a new way of doing things online.
Q3. How do you think EMERGE App is helpful for other emerging entrepreneurs?
While looking at the profile of some of my paying customers, I seem to attract a lot of makers and doers. These people make things with their bare hands or sell things that they passionately believe in. Hobbyists, jewellers, soap makers and organic produce sellers are big users of EMERGE App.
So, in addition to my wallet-friendly prices for these startups and micro businesses, I’d also like to think that I’m helping them to organise their inventory and make their operations run more efficiently. Nobody wants to be sitting around entering data into a laptop when the sun is shining outside or when the beach beckons! This gives them more time to spend on the things that truly matter in their business, such as business development and catching up with their best customers.
Q4. Did you face any difficulties or challenges when you decide to create EMERGE App?
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. I have faced many challenges in the journey and here are the top two.
Founded in Singapore with lack of engineers to begin with, it was extremely difficult for us to attract good talent with long working hours and startup-like wages. Initially, we relied on foreign engineers but after a short while it was difficult to hire them because of the shift in the government’s labour policies. It was a difficult transition for us but we overcame it by setting up our development team in Vietnam.
As we were bootstrapped from the beginning, every cent that was going out had to accounted for. I experienced a few years of sleepless nights not knowing if I was able to pay the monthly salaries. This taught us to spend our money wisely: always consider a free or cheaper alternative if there is one. You might not be turning a profit yet but a lack of cash flow will quickly kill your startup!
Q5. With other inventory management apps available in the market, what makes EMERGE App unique? How is EMERGE App different from its competitors?
Given our humble beginnings as an in-house solution for our small business, we decided to focus on small and medium-sized businesses around the world. Dealing with stock is a global problem no matter what country you’re in or what language you speak. I’m proud to say that we currently have users in 40 countries on 5 continents. I don’t think we can add any more continents unless there’s a trading and distribution business in Antarctica!
Since we initially designed the software for ourselves, we wanted the user interface to be cool-looking and easy to use. Users should be able to login and pick up skills along the way when they discover little features here and there.
And in a true fashion for our small and medium-sized business customers, we offer a free account for businesses with modest needs. If you’ve seen our website, our paid plans are extremely competitive and offer much value for money. Many users said they signed up with us because they were put off by high prices and complicated plans from other competing solutions.
We also run a tight and small team around South-East Asia. Sales, marketing, engineering and support are spread over Singapore, Vietnam and India. I’ve just added an office in China. This makes us extremely responsive to users no matter their time zone. I’m always happy to consider feature requests from users and many of them contact me directly through chat apps and speak their mind or deliver praises!
Q6. As a young entrepreneur, would you like to share some advice for others who want to become entrepreneurs?
Keep it simple – don’t try to over complicate things!
Different stages of a startup will have different priorities and it’s essential to only focus on a few priorities at any stage.
For example, if you’re just starting out, you need money to build the product, you focus on fundraising and try building the product with whatever little resources you have.
When you have the money and the product already in the market, you focus on growth such as acquiring customers.
So I would say, an entrepreneur should know when to focus on what matters.
If you love reading books, here’s couple of books I recommend:
On Building Business – Secrets of Building Multi-Million Dollar Businesses by Adam Khoo.
On Building Product – Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal.
Check more details about EMERGE App by visiting www.emergeapp.net
Also read: Our interview with Trevor Swenson , Founder of Agent Live 360