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Initial Startups: Behind the Scenes - FlagAHero

Blog post   •   Jun 07, 2013 16:57 SGT



Isn't it great when you can 'flag' for a hero when you are in need like the way you are in a rush and start flagging for a cab? Now you can do just that! 

Why? Because... FlagAHero is born! 



FlagAHero brings about conveniences for people to find assistance or services within their own communities yet most importantly, with a strong sense of human touch and engagement.

Now… we shall peek in at the people behind the scene…



Interview Dialogue with FlagAHero Founders, Mr Ken Toh & Ms Yumi Wong and Pioneer Employee, Mr Ivan Tan (Business Development).

1) What went through your initial thought process on forming your initial core team? How did you go about attracting your core team member? If there were challenges faced, please elaborate.

Finding our core team is not easy for me and Yumi. We took nearly a year to find the correct people whom we can truly believe to grow FlagAHero together. The first thing we asked ourselves is what are the kind of skill sets that will fill in the gaps of the founders. We have to find people with same aligned values and skills that complement the team. Luck also plays an important part. We need to find the correct people at the correct time, if we catch them at a wrong time like they have started a new job, or just got married, these are example of bad timings. We were lucky that we found Alvin & Ivan at correct timings.

Attracting our core team members is not simple too. As a startup, we do not have financial resources to offer big salaries and bonus package to attract talents. However as a startup, our core team cannot also be people who are only attracted by the financial gains. When we are roping in our core team members, Yumi and I make it a point to understand about their aspirations, their current needs and their risk appetite. Our relationships between us and the core team, are much deeper than the expected financial returns. What connect us are friendships, dreams and aspirations to create a better future together. All of us have a unique set of skills that complement the team and with our aligned values, we believes, we have finally formed our “A” grade core team.

2) What were your initial plans for these pioneer employees when they first joined you? How is the execution differ from you initial plans, and in what ways?

When we got Alvin in as our Chief Techie, our initial plan was to let him manage the development work of the outsourced team. After some weeks, he decided to roll up his sleeves and take on the role of development himself as he believes it will be far more effective. Ivan, our Chief Business Developer was meant to be a part-time arrangement, doing what he can for FlagAHero in his free times. Ever since he joined FlagAHero, he has been working with us every day, even during weekends. Both core team members have proved their invaluable commitment for FlagAHero and we as the founders deeply appreciate everything they have done.

3) What will you advise to budding founders if they are looking to form/hire their initial core team?

Be True to people. Life is not just about your idea and your startup. If you want to find the best core team members, you first have to be the best leader for the team. Reflect about what your potential core team members really need. Do not rush into forming your team, getting a bad team is worse than having no team members.

And next, we move on to the side of the story with one of the Pioneer Employees – Mr Ivan Tan.

1) What make you join a Startup in full-time employment?

It is always a dream of mine to start a profitable business from scratch, to really have a career that I can call my own, and it does not belong to someone else that is far and unrelated. So I have been dabbling with this idea since my polytechnic days, and along the way, though there were crazy ups and downs, but it is just the thrill of being in a startup that makes me want to try and join startups full time, which is like playing a strategy game, just that this game is for real. 

Though I have been employed in the finance sector before, and I have even tried management consulting under a MNC, as well as being a freelance in that, due of my academic background in business management and entrepreneurship, I felt that those are not what I want as a career. The money is good, and the kind of risk faced within a startup is also negligible in those jobs, but I don’t feel satisfied with what I’m doing. Hence I join FlagAHero full time, partly because of the adventure and thrill of being in a startup, but it’s also because it is where I feel proud of what I’m doing, and it is what I want to do.

2) Being one of the pioneer team member, what are the kind of initial challenges faced?

The first challenge faced was definitely the money. As FlagAHero was a fresh startup then, and the only employees within the company were just the founders, Ken and Yumi, who were still going for broke, they were unable to pay a high salary, though there are compensations in other ways.  The next challenge was that being a pioneer member within the company, I am already considered like half a founder. Whatever Ken and Yumi were deciding and executing, I’m a part of it too. Even when things do not go as well, I have the responsibility to think in their shoes too. There are many things that have not been explored, and there are many things that are still not done yet. Hence I become that extra pair of hands and legs to help out with everything, sometimes even being a mediator when both of founders start to take sides. 

3) Has your role differ from when you first join? If yes, please elaborate.

I am in the role of business development, which is towards strategising, developing, and implementing growth opportunities within FlagAHero. But because of the lack of manpower within FlagAHero, there is a need to share our task and responsibilities among all of us and to work out of our responsibilities, so that things can be done in the fastest way, and we are also able to react to situations or matters that requires immediate actions to be made. Therefore now, as long as the task is like management-related other than finance, I’m the one who is handling it. For example like management of interns, road shows and events, on top of issues like strategic management, marketing management and sales and marketing, which was what I have to handle. But the good thing is that, if any one of us is maxed out with stuff, we have at least someone else who is ready to just take over for a while, until we are ready to move on with it again.

  4) Challenges are inevitable in a startup environment. Prior to joining Flagahero, are you ready for these challenges? Or did you know what you might have to face?

Perhaps of my academic background, as well as my consulting experience with various companies, whether big or small, I was expecting challenges to come in my way, and I even had solutions in place to resolve them. On top of that, I have dabbled with small businesses, being self-employed, as well as joining another startup for a while, which was under the same incubation programme that FlagAHero was in, therefore I know very well of the kind of issues they are facing, as well as the challenges ahead of them. I think that’s one of the reasons they looked for me in the first place to be a pioneer core team member, and I am more willing to be in their team. Challenges, being challenges, which is mostly tough and hard to handle, but thankfully I am well exposed to them, especially challenges pertaining to FlagAHero, therefore I was relatively ready, and it’s pretty alright. 

With that, we round up our 3rd interview! If you want to know more about FlagAHero, click on this link -> More About FlagAHero

Startup Jobs Asia’s next interview will be revealed next weekend! Stay tuned! 


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