It's not everyday we hear of SouthEast Asian startups raising USD$1.1 million in their SEED round of funding.
It's also not everyday where you find a startup that's based out of SouthEast Asia and South Korea at the same time.
That startup is Swingvy - an all-in-one HR solutions company with the goal of making a difference in the way small and medium sized businesses manage their teams.
We managed to catch up with Kit Hoong, one of the co-founders of Swingvy to share a little more on his journey and experience of building the company.
Below is the interview:
1) What is Swingvy about and how did you get started? What was the primary driver for starting this whole venture?
Swingvy is an all-in-one freemium cloud-based HR platform for small businesses available through the web and mobile.
My partner, Jin and I realised that there was an opportunity for HR tech in SEA market as most businesses are still practising manual HR with paperworks, using traditional HR Software or outsourcing the task to expensive payroll agents.
In the US, HR tech startups have gained much success and disrupted traditional HR practices. However, there is still no market leader in SEA market yet. SME market size studies indicate that SouthEast Asian market is 14X bigger than the US.
2) You have a very unique company based in South East Asia but partially operating out of Korea with a Korean co-founder. How did this come about and is it challenging working with people from different cultures/backgrounds?
I co-founded Swingvy with my Korean friends having worked with them previously as business partners.
When we started the business, we believed that the remote culture is the future - which is not only beneficial, but an essential element to our company.
Challenges are part and parcel of any business. Most businesses that are built in-country, but we see diversity in terms of globalisation opportunities. For instance, the exposure to incredible talents creates the opportunity to benefit from a diverse knowledge of new and insightful approaches to business problems.
I am grateful for the talents we have. Our team is passionate in the work that we do and we share a spirit of collaboration and success vision.
Given our cultural differences, there are plenty of things we can learn from each other. Going global is definitely in our business pipeline and we’re aware that there will be bumps along the way but we still work closely as a team.
Communication is key for us and we have that luxury of open communication with the help of the internet and social tools today. We’re like a family!
3) You managed to raise $1.1M in your recent round. What was the experience like?
The $1.1M funding was raised during our seed round, we’re still overwhelmed and humbled from the success. It was surreal filled with excitement and joy as we received a lot of interest from VCs around the world.
We are really happy because they have so much believe in us and the business.
4) What’re your tips for newer founders/startups that are starting out and raising venture capital funding?
My advice for new founders/startups is to not just build a business that solves problems but with a value proposition that come with strong monetizable products.
As much as startups are looking for funding, funders/investors are also looking for good startups to invest in - It works both ways.
Stay focused and keep believing on the value proposition of your startup, the investors will eventually come to you. And, of course with luck too.
5) Earlier you mentioned that you’ve expanded to Singapore. What’re the main differences between the market there, Korea, and Malaysia?
We are already in Singapore and there are couple of countries coming our way soon.
The differences are always the culture, people, society and the language.
In fact, we enjoy the challenges of each country which makes us learn so much from one another.
We’re looking forward to building a strong and rich platform by sharing insights and combining each cultural values from each country.