EL Translation of Lianhe Zaobao Article on Clicks®
[Translated version of Lianhe Zaobao article on Clicks®]
As a property owner, Tan Chee Yeng tried to sell his property by himself in the past but encountered lots of pain points in his attempt, that was when he got the idea of starting a business to solve these pain points.
In an interview with Lianhe Zaobao, the 40-year-old said that two years ago, he originally wanted to sell his four-room HDB flat in Telok Blangah area by himself. He tried to facilitate the transaction without a real estate agent, but found it extremely difficult, "There is no platform on the market that can meet my needs. If without a real estate agent, it is almost impossible to advertise on existing, popular platforms."
Generally, local real estate agents charge homeowners a 2% commission. He revealed that this is the second time he has sold a property; the first time he completed a resale transaction through a relative who is a real estate agent. After attempting to sell his next property by himself, he found out that the pain points were not worth his efforts, so he ended up entrusting the sale to the same relative again.
After in-depth research and investigation, Chee Yeng found that no matter where in the world, the process of real estate buying and selling generally faces trust problems. Both buyers and sellers are worried about fraud, so they would choose to go through real estate agents.
Referencing the concept of social media platform LinkedIn, and the idea of Clicks®, an online real estate networking platform, was born. Clicks® was launched in April this year, and similar to LinkedIn, it allowed registered users to network and authenticate each other through connections. Users include property owners, (potential) buyers, (potential) renters and real estate agents. With Clicks®, he hopes to make the process of buying and selling properties easier, more flexible and transparent, through networking and digitalisation.
Digitalising Rental Transactions by Harnessing the Power of Blockchain and Smart Contract
Through word of mouth, the platform currently has over 1,000 registered users, and Chee Yeng set a goal to increase the number to over 300,000 by 2025. Clicks®’ target market isn’t just limited to Singapore, they are also looking at overseas markets such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Australia.
He revealed that the platform is currently focusing on creating more functions to digitalise the real estate industry. The platform is expanding from resale housing to the rental market, and would be harnessing the power of blockchain through smart contracts for a start. With this, he hopes to assist homeowners and tenants to sign contracts, which are immutable and easily accessible, directly online.
With regard to ensuring the security of users' data, he said that while a start-up is unlikely to spend money to set up its own cyber security team, Clicks® has minimised this risk by relying on Google's Firebase to develop its applications and managing its users’ data.
Students of Yesteryears, Now Business Partners
Before starting Clicks®, Chee Yeng served as the head of digital banking of Citibank Singapore’s International Personal Bank and has been involved in the financial industry for five years. His work experience spans across different industries, including being a physics teacher at River Valley High School, and managing personnel training in the hospitality, logistics and gaming (casino) industry.
He emphasized: "To start a business, you need to find people you trust, although it's not easy to find."
Luckily, he got the support of Pang Rousi and Guo Jianlong for his first start-up, both of whom were his former students from River Valley High School, and now his entrepreneurial partners. They are responsible for financial administration and technology development.
"I have known them for more than ten years. Once my students and now my friends. They come to visit me every year during Chinese New Year ."
In addition, when he shared his ideas with two Citibank colleagues and they were willing to become shareholders of the company, providing pre-seed funding for the company at a valuation of SGD6 million.
Chee Yeng resigned in June last year, giving up a stable income to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. He emphasized that the process of starting a business does not require huge capital, especially now that working from home is widely accepted. Still, as the head of the family, he said he thought through this at length and had strong support from his wife.
"I have five children, and if my wife doesn't support my decision, I would never dare to take the leap of faith to start a business. After I discussed with her and worked out our finances, the conclusion was that even if I quit my job, as long as my family watch our expenses, our existing savings would be able to cover our cost of living for at least a year or two."
*Note: this is an unofficial translation of the article. To access the original article, please visit Lianhe Zaobao article on Clicks®